• Your boss’s sexual orientation or gender ultimately doesn’t matter
  • You should treat an LGBTQ+ boss the same as you would a straight boss
  • Take this opportunity to check your bias and be intentionally more inclusive
Human beings are funny creatures.

No matter how socially aware you think you might be, chances are, you get a little weirded out when you’re in a situation that requires you to spend time with someone different than you - at least when it’s a new experience for you.

If you’re white and you find yourself in a very diverse environment, you might suddenly become super conscious of not saying anything that could be offensive.

If you’re able-bodied and make friends with a person with a disability, it could take you a while to feel fully comfortable and able to look past the disability and see them as exactly what they are, just another friend.

And if your sexuality is straight, reporting to a boss who is LGBTQ+ may feel like a big deal.

The key in all of these situations is to look past the superficial bullshit labels and differences and simply connect, human to human.

That’s a pretty good strategy for life in general.

That said, it can feel like reporting to an LGBTQ+ boss requires a level of awareness that you simply haven’t had to have if you’ve previously only reported to people who are similar to you.

And there are certain nuances to be mindful of that you may not have encountered in your working life up until now.

How Does Having A Gay Boss Differ?

Short answer, it doesn’t!

A person’s sexuality or gender has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do their job and manage you effectively. So why should it make any difference to you as the direct report?

Just like having a boss who is a minority or disabled, having a boss with a sexual orientation other than straight really makes no difference.

There are some outdated views that a boss who is LGTBQ+ will automatically display different behavior to a straight boss.

For example, some might say that a gay man is likely to be more caring and easy-going, while others might say that a lesbian woman is likely to be mean to the men on her team.

Ideas like this are old stereotypes that should have been left in the ‘80s along with stone-washed jeans but somehow have lingered in the minds of some people.

It should go without saying but stereotypes like this are a pile of crap. You can have a gay male boss who is a complete and total asshole or a lesbian female boss who you couldn’t even tell is a lesbian unless she told you right to your face.

Sexual orientation doesn’t predict behavior. Shit, you can’t even assume that an LGBTQ+ boss won’t exhibit homophobic behaviors - it happens!

If you want to connect with your boss and build a good relationship - regardless of their sexual orientation or gender - here are a few key tips
  • Set clear boundaries; if you answer emails at 1am, they’ll come to expect this of you going forward
  • Be clear about your goals; let your boss know your ambitions so they can support you effectively
  • Provide clear feedback; if something about your working relationship with your manager isn’t working - let them know! You may just have different communication styles or approaches to work
  • Be a solutions person; whenever you come to your manager with problems, be sure to have some solutions too
  • Be accountable; your relationship with your manager is your responsibility too. It’s a two-way street.
  • Share and celebrate your wins; we can’t expect our boss to see everything, so share your wins with them!
These are all fundamentals of managing your boss, no matter what kind of boss you have. The bottom line is, having a gay boss is pretty much just the same as having a straight boss.

Sexual Harassment Still Applies

Sexual harassment is a serious issue in the workplace. A manager is automatically in a position of power over their direct reports and this power can be abused to make unwanted advances on staff or punish employees for saying no to these advances.

This is no different when your boss is gay. The only difference for you might be that you’re used to being on alert for this behavior from the opposite sex and not so much from the same sex.

Don’t assume that inappropriate behavior is nothing just because it comes from someone who is the same gender as you.

A good rule of thumb is, if you would feel uncomfortable with your boss’s behavior if they were the opposite gender, then it’s probably something you should feel uncomfortable within this scenario too.

Inappropriate physical contact, lewd jokes, propositions and unnecessary comments on your appearance are sexual harassment whether they come from a male boss or a female boss.

That said, don’t assume your gay boss is into you just because you happen to be the same gender as them. Just like you wouldn’t assume your boss is into you simply based on the fact that you’re a member of the opposite sex.

It sounds ridiculous but, even in this modern age, there are many straight people who think in this way.

It comes down to the same point we keep hammering home - whether your boss is straight, gay, bi, trans or any other sexual orientation or gender identity, the same rules still apply.

Any and all sexual advances from your boss must be reported to HR, pure and simple.

Nuances Of Having An LGBTQ+ Boss

Even though having a non-straight boss shouldn’t make a difference, there are some areas you might want to be more mindful of.

To be honest, these are all things we should be doing anyway if we consider ourselves to value equality and inclusion. But considering we live in a society that is highly heterocentric, it can be easy to fall into bad habits due to our conditioning.

So, having an LGBTQ+ boss can force us to change behaviors and patterns that we might otherwise be unaware of or simply too lazy or comfortable to do anything about.

But ultimately, even if you don’t have an LGBTQ+ boss, you should really be observing the points below in your daily working and personal life anyway.

1. Never Assume Sexuality

We all see the world through the lens of our own personal experiences. This means that, if you’re straight, you’re likely to assume that others are also straight by default.

In the workplace, this could manifest as asking a male colleague if they have a wife. It could be making an innocent joke about a female colleague having a crush on a male celebrity.

Equally, assuming a non-straight sexuality is a no-no, especially if this is based on stereotypes.

It’s not okay to assume that a female colleague is gay based on her outward appearance and it certainly isn’t okay to then make those assumptions known in conversation.

In today’s world, there’s a growing awareness and acceptance of the varying sexual orientations beyond gay or straight and gender identities beyond male and female. And, if it’s new to you, it can be confusing as hell.

It’s not just a matter of XX (biological female) and XY (biological male) chromosomes. Science is uncovering that there’s more to it beyond those genetic assignments.

This study from the American Psychological Association shows that as elementary kids mature, their self-perceived gender identities evolve. This can also extend into adulthood too.

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” explains it quite well in this two and half minute video clip below.

VIDEO: Bill Nye On Sexuality and Gender Spectrum
YOUTUBE: Erin Jensen
LENGTH: 2:34
Summary points:
  • Humans are born with biological genders of either male or female
  • Biological gender is only part of the overall picture
  • Gender identity is not just male or female but can spread across a spectrum 
Put simply, base someone’s gender on how they identify and/or present and don’t assume anyone’s sexuality. You can only be sure of it if and when they choose to share it with you.

And, frankly, it’s really none of your business. There’s really no need for you to ever know your colleagues’ sexual orientation, especially if you learn to use inclusive language.

2. Be Inclusive

Related to not assuming sexual orientation, it is important to ensure that you are inclusive in the workplace.

This includes using inclusive language. Instead of asking if someone is married, or specifically using the term husband or wife, ask if they have a partner.

In a group of men, don’t make a general reference to wives and girlfriends and vice versa for a group of women.

Avoid gendered language, such as referring to a group as guys or gals. Try using team, gang or troop, etc.

Inclusivity goes beyond simply the language you use in conversation. If you’re organizing a company happy hour and employees can bring a “plus one”, be sure to ask people to bring their significant other or partner to make it less gender specific.

Generally, just ensure that your language, behavior and activities wouldn’t alienate anyone who is non-straight, trans or non-binary.

3. Don’t Tell Offensive Jokes

This might seem obvious but, again, we all see the world through our own experience.

There might be some jokes or memes that you wouldn’t deem offensive because they may be quite subtle and don’t target you.

Just be careful about any memes that you share in work chats and don’t make any jokes that put down LGBTQ+ individuals.

Laughing at jokes of others who do this acts as a form of allegiance. Be sure to make your feelings clear about any inappropriate jokes or forwarded memes. Or, at the very least, don’t re-forward that shit.

4. Don’t Ask Inappropriate Questions

Sometimes, we allow our curiosity to get the better of us.

If you build a good relationship with your boss and they decide to share with you their sexual orientation or gender identity, you may feel inclined to ask questions.

Even though you may feel that you’re simply taking an interest or educating yourself, there are some questions which are just plain rude.

Also, bear in mind that your boss has probably had to answer these same questions a million times and, frankly, it’s not their job to educate you, it’s yours and maybe Google’s too 😉

A good rule of thumb is don’t ask any questions you wouldn’t ask a straight man.

So questions about how long they’ve been with their partner, do they have any kids etc. are fine.

Questions about when they knew they were gay or if their partner is “the butch one” - not so much.

5. Don’t Gossip

This is a rule to live by. Other people’s private lives are not yours to share.

Whether you have an inkling that your boss is trans or they have shared with you that they are bi, it’s not your place to blabber this to others in the company.

Not only is it a betrayal of their trust and privacy, it’s also totally immature.

And if word travels back to them, you could be putting your personal brand and career at risk. You need to avoid the gossip trap at work. Instead, stay focused on being the superstar that you can be at work.

6. Don’t Let Things Slide

Treating your LGBTQ+ boss the same as you would a straight boss includes calling them out or reporting them when needed.

If your manager is a fucking clueless executive, slacking, bullying you, creating a hostile work environment, incompetent or any other issue you might face, it should be dealt with in the same way.

Some people might feel fear over reporting a misbehaving manager who also happens to be LGBTQ+ for fear of being seen as discriminating.

But the truth is, you would be discriminating if you don’t report them.

As long as you can be clear on what the issues are and they are entirely focused on work interactions and not prejudice, then there’s no reason to hold back.

If it’s a new experience for you, having an LGBTQ+ boss can seem like a big deal but it’s really not. It’s simply a chance to check your own biases and show up in a way that is inclusive and respectful of all.

Just Remember It’s Business As Usual

Especially in times like these, it’s more important than ever to focus on coming together rather than what separates us. We seem to be learning more and more each day that what we see as separation is merely an illusion.

Belonging is one of the key characteristics for wellbeing. The more we can foster a sense of belonging and community around us, the stronger our mental and emotional health will be. And, the better we’ll all be at managing work stress like champs.

It’s all about creating positivity at work.

But it has to start with us. It’s up to each of us to ensure others feel accepted and loved around us and we will attract that in turn. Remember, what you put out in the universe is what comes back to you.

This not only applies in general life, but also in the workplace. Whether your boss is gay, straight, bi, male, female, non-binary or whatever, it makes no difference. Treat everyone with respect.

All that matters is connecting, collaborating and building a workplace community that makes Mondays something to look forward to and lets happiness happen at work more often.

So, build a positive and kick-ass relationship with your boss and you’ll see some great things come from it - guaranteed.

Feel Better,

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