The Corporate Closet: The Professional Lives of Gay Men in America

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9780029356043: The Corporate Closet: The Professional Lives of Gay Men in America

Using interviews with hundreds of gay professionals, this study discusses the effects of their sexuality--whether open or in the closet--on their careers, including the stress that may result from managing their sexual identity at work. 15,000 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A revealing and timely, if partisan, description of the strategies that gay men assume in order to function among heterosexuals in corporate life. Woods (Communication/CUNY) began this study as a Ph.D. dissertation, then was joined in the writing by Lucas, who runs an ``organizational development firm'' specializing in employment issues relevant to gays. Although many of the homosexuals who replied to Woods's survey insist that sexuality is irrelevant to their business lives, the author complains that corporate life is in fact dominated by the sexual identities of heterosexuals, as expressed by family pictures on their desks and discussions of weekend activities. Some gay men, he explains, use various strategies to hide their own sexual orientation--including establishing boundaries, making up stories, choosing sympathetic allies, evading the issue by using verbal and situational dodges, distracting with other eccentricities, remaining ambiguous, or simply withdrawing. While none of Woods's respondents regrets coming out of the closet, those who have do so with accompanying corporate-life strategies: minimizing visibility; ``normalizing the abnormal''; ``dignifying the difference''; exceeding the employer's expectations; or accepting tokenism. Whatever the penalties for coming out, Woods says, businesses profit from having workers who are uninhibited by their sexuality, whose self-esteem is enhanced by going public and who therefore are more productive workers. Throughout, Woods reveals the strategies necessary for any minority (sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious) to survive in a conventional, homogeneous corporate world--but, as he makes clear in his perceptive study, of all these minorities, it's only gays who move through that world with their particular identity unshielded by law from harassment or abuse. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

One of the best business books of the year to date, this work focuses on the professional lives of more than 100 gay men. Woods, an assistant professor of communications at City University of New York, and Lucas, a partner in an organizational development firm, are appalled by the dichotomy between the cherished American belief in "fair play" and the country's history of discrimination against various groups. Using a critique of these "traditions" as their methodological framework, the authors study corporations that spotlight marriage and family--"Gay careers are . . . shaped and diverted by the subtle, persistent tug of heterosexism." Their observations on the suffocating "corporate closet," on "playing it straight" and on "maintaining boundaries" are insightful, as is their call for creating gay employee groups and for dismantling the closet. "When they defend conventional definitions of privacy and professionalism, gay men support the very ideologies that compel their invisibility." This book, with an impressive bibliography and extensive notes, should generate vigorous trade and academic sales.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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James D. Woods
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