From Netflix’s Big Mouth to Lindsay Lohan’s Mean Girls, pop culture rarely touches upon the very real act of code switching. Code switching, a term generally used to describe jumping between languages, is more or less when you sensor a part of yourself to fit in with a particular demographic you generally do not belong to. With Big Mouth, it was black youth attempting to sound more urban among their peers. With Mean Girls, it was Cady Haron dumbing herself down to fit in with The Plastics. Literally juggling personalities, if you will.
As a gay man, I routinely code switch when I’m at work or out in public. When I first meet clients or encounter strangers, I talk with a deeper voice and put on more “masculine” mannerisms as to try to showcase a stereotypical heterosexual persona. Especially after Trump’s America, we’ve learned that evil doesn’t just hide in the shadows anymore and, as a previously oppressed minority, we’re prone to experiencing violence from those who do not agree with our way of life. Love is love, but it’s hard to carry that sentiment into an interaction with a stranger who may want to kick your teeth in.
I also changed up my personality when I first started my new job as a vet tech 2 years ago. Mostly because I didn’t want anyone knowing my business because work is work, I felt like it was easier to let my employer and coworkers get to know me as “geek Mike” instead of “gay Mike.” Labels, stick with you, my friends. As it turns out, and according to charity Just Like Us, a large portion of gay men also go back into the closet when starting a new job.
Formed in 2016, Just Like Us works to promote better opportunities for LGBT youth in school and in local communities. Their most recent research, which was conducted in The UK, shows that 31% of gay men are not open about their sexuality when joining a different work environment.
Almost 4,000 LGBT people were surveyed and here is other disturbing data.
- 19% of LGBT people have reported harassment in the work place
- 17% of LGBT people have reported a pay gap they believe is due to sexual
- 56% of trans youth report that they remain unemployed despite looking for jobs
Amy Ashenden, CEO of Just Like Us, tells Forbes:
It is extremely concerning that LGBTQ young adults face so many challenges in the workplace that, in 2023, a quarter go back into the closet when starting a job. Our research shows that the treatment of LGBTQ people in British society today is preventing young adults from thriving at work. LGBTQ young people deserve to safely be themselves at school, home and work – there must be no exceptions.
Are you surprised by these numbers? Do you think statistics would be better or worse if more people were polled? Do you hide your gay pride when starting a new job? Comment and let me know!