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What predicts visibility management at work? : a study of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Flemish government employees

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Visibility management (VM) refers to the regulation of disclosure of one's sexual orientation for the purposes of maintaining privacy as well as minimizing stigma, harm, or marginalization. Research on how lesbian women and gay men (LGs) manage the visibility of their sexual orientation in the workplace is scarce. In this study, we tested a model that investigates the relationships between VM on the one hand, and specific job characteristics, experiencing the work environment as more or less LG friendly, and personal homonegative experiences on the other. In a non-representative sample of 4,080 employees of the Flemish government, 6.3% identified as gay or lesbian. Within this LG subsample (N = 265) we found that specific job characteristics (having a managerial position, or having a tenured or non-tenured position) were not associated with VM. Knowing other LGs within the work environment who are open about their sexual orientation was associated with being more likely to apply open VM strategies, as was perceiving the atmosphere at work as permissive towards LGs. Having witnessed negative events towards LGs at work was associated with taking the characteristics of a social setting (e.g., public or private) into account when deciding to disclose one's sexual orientation. Finally, participants who experienced homonegative events (such as unsolicited sexual innuendo or abusive language) felt less inhibited about disclosure. Potential theoretical as well as practical implications are discussed.
Journal: Psychologica Belgica
ISSN: 0033-2879
Issue: 1
Volume: 59
Pages: 78 - 95
Publication year:2019