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Let’s Have a Candid Conversation About Being Gay In Public Accounting

After last week's post about LGBT accounting professionals, we received the following:

Dear Going Concern (Caleb, Adrienne, and the once-a-week Greg),

I feel like the GC community could benefit from an actual discussion about homosexuality in the Big 4. For a bit of background, I am a homosexual male who started as a Staff 1 at the Big 4 in September in the Midwest (say, somewhere in WI/MN/IL/MO/KS/IN/OH/MI/KY/TN for the sake of anonymity). I came to terms with my sexuality in early November, and I came out to everyone important in my life by late November or early December at the earliest.

The exception is my colleagues. I work in audit, and I am constantly worked in a cramped space with other audit people (yay assurance?). I have not told a single soul at work that I am gay, because I fear the ramifications. I am still fully coming to terms with my sexuality and what being a gay male in the Midwest means, and I do not need the rejection of my co-workers. While my firm has a "support group," I fear the ultimate repercussions of coming out at work. In becoming friends with those in my start class, they have occasionally made homophobic comments in passing. Nothing is meant to be discriminatory, but the general consensus is that being gay is unacceptable, and something is wrong. While the LGBT "support group" at work could be a great opportunity for networking and a source of support, it is 75% likely (a number I pulled out of my ass, let's say significant more-than-likely), that I would only feel negative repercussions from coming out. Awkwardness from male colleagues and superiors, snide comments, and general discrimination would be the likely result, despite what my firm would state to the contrary.

While I do not live in 1950 (for which I am very grateful), I also do not live in an era in which I could marry my hypothetical boyfriend in a marriage recognized by the state in which I live. Big 4 accounting is much the same way. 1 partner in my office is openly gay (for anonymity's sake, I will only disclose there are 5-20 partners in my office, which I understand is baffling from a statistical standpoint, but anonymity is key, as I have stated above), and that 1 partner is the only one.

Can we spark an open discussion on homosexuality in the Big 4? What have others experienced after coming out in the workplace? How have others reacted? I am not quite sure what I am seeking from emailing GC, but I feel like this is an issue which needs to be discussed. Paying lip service to the acceptance of LGBT is not enough. The first step is unknown to me, but it has to start somewhere.

Now, before we get into anything, I'm going to disclaim this by telling the trolls out there that I'm ready to ban most of you making jokes about sausage parties and fish tacos because I myself identify somewhere along the LGBT spectrum, though it's still none of your business where and I don't give a shit how you feel about that. Luckily I work for a hack accounting website where I can be myself and not in the corporate world, so I'm not ashamed to say I've never fully embraced the "straight life" but I'm not making out with my girlfriends at the bar either. Back when I was in CPA review, I worked for a company in San Francisco so it's safe to say sexual orientation was never an issue (anyone who has seen my former boss's videos and thought to themselves "well wait, he is MARRIED?" knows what I mean ifyouknowwhatImean), and I was in a relationship with a man for most of the time I worked there. But who cares?

So let's open it up and discuss it like the adults we purport to be – is it safe to be gay, lesbian or TG in public accounting? Any advice for this guy?