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Sarah Copley-Hirst: ‘Bringing all of yourself to work can only add to your success.’

Sarah Copley-Hirst: ‘Bringing all of yourself to work can only add to your success.’

I had been working for my employer for nearly eight years and had worked my way from clerk to senior manager when I became aware of how transparent my closet had become.

I had not made a conscious decision to "come out", but it became apparent that my defense of other minorities had been noted.

I was outed as the result of an investigation into bullying within the office. The complainant had identified me as a possible second "victim" and I therefore received a visit from a rather uncomfortable looking investigator from the Professional Standards Unit.

The particular circumstances of the investigation, while undoubtedly important to the original complainant, are not particularly pertinent to my story. But they highlight just how foolish I had been in expecting my sexuality to be unworthy of comment.

I later realized that never talking about my private life had made it the hottest topic of conversation in the department. Speculation was clearly rife.

I have any number of stories, mainly extremely humorous, about the various responses that I have had when revealing that I am gay to colleagues. Clearly I was the last to join the conversation.

I began to talk about my partner, gently correcting anyone who referred to her as "he", and proudly added a picture of her to my desk.

I found that I worked with a great bunch of people who, while being frightful gossips, had only wanted to know me better. My career has continued to progress unhindered and my newest employer and colleagues are as supportive as my former colleagues were.

I head up a department with a large proportion of university leavers. Unfortunately, recent survey results suggest that many gay graduates return to the closet when taking up their first job.

I hope that by being openly gay I can provide some reassurance that there is no choice to be made between career and coming out. The two are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, bringing all of yourself to work can only add to your success.