S2E16: Queer Experiences in the Workplace:
Breaking Down the Gender Barriers

S2E16: Queer Experiences in the Workplace:
Breaking Down the Gender Barriers

S2_Ep16_WEB.jpg

We continue with our conversation around the queer experiences in the workplace in this episode with Dr. Nicholas Salter, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hofstra University. From pay gaps to family leaves, we talk the research and expert side of being queer in the workplace, how have queer experiences evolved over the years, and how to best navigate these challenges.

This episode was produced by Global Thinking Foundation USA and Hangar Studios.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube!

Connect with Dr. Salter here, find him on LinkedIn, and read more about his work on Google Scholar

View Transcript

Austin: (00:44)
Hello happy money people and welcome back to Your World, Your Money. This is Austin, and I'm back with Lauren to continue our conversation about gender, sexuality, and money, and to continue talking about being queer in the workplace.

Lauren: (00:57)
That's right, Austin. Last week we got to chat with an amazing guest, Teri Tan, about their experience being in the finance world. And today we are excited to keep diving into the barriers of being queer in the workplace with Dr. Nicholas Salter.

Austin: (01:11)
Nicholas Salter, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hofstra University.  He received his PhD in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology from the Bowling Green State University.  I-O Psychology is the study of psychology applied to the workplace: helping people perform better at their jobs as well as enjoy their jobs more.  As the director of the Workplace Inclusion, Leadership, and Diversity (WILD) research lab, his research interests explore issues of diversity and inclusion of all kinds in the workplace, including gender, race, sexual orientation, and intersectionality, among other topics.  In what ways do underrepresented populations experience the workplace differently?  In what ways are their experiences similar to majority populations?  He is also particularly interested in the unique experiences of minorities in leadership positions.   Dr Salter strongly believes in the importance of outreach and working with the community to make research meaningful in the working world.  He has been invited to speak to multiple organizations about diversity, equity, and inclusion and is a regular contributor to the Fisher Leadership Initiative blog where he posts about how organizations can use research to better their work.  He has also served on various Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology committees, including the LGBT committee as the chair of the research team, and currently as a member of the Committee for Ethnic and Minority Affairs.  He and his students regularly present at national conferences, such as SIOP (“sigh-opp”- The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) and Academy of Management, as well as publish in various scholarly journals and academic books.    

Lauren: (02:39)
Hi, Nick, I'm so glad that you're here. You've clearly done a variety of different things all in relation to the queer community, which is really exciting, especially hopping off the call with Terry, um, and diving into this one. Do you want to introduce yourself or if you have anything to add to that introduction as well.

Nick: (02:59)
Yeah no. I think that was a pretty impressive introduction. I think it makes me sound a lot cooler than I am. I'm just so happy to be here, just like Austin said, my research is on diversity and inclusion. I am a professor and I teach classes on diversity and inclusion. My kind of professional world is diversity inclusion that I eat, breath it all day long that I could talk about it all day long. I've been doing this for a long time. You know, I've been kind of involved with some form of DNI work through different lenses for 20 years or so now. So I'm just excited to talk to you all today.

Lauren: (03:31)
I'll start us off. So Dr. Salter, can you tell us more about yourself and your works on queer people in the workplace? Um, can you tell our listeners a bit more about how you got into this field and where the passion for working on diversity and inclusion comes from?

Nick: (03:45)
It's interesting to think about what got me interested in doing work on diversity and inclusion in my field in psychology. We often say research is me search. And so like you often hear people like doing research on things to kind of important and relevant to them. And so, I mean, that's, you know, as simple as it started for me, like I identify as a gay male myself. And so I just became interested in like, what can science tell us about people like me, you know? And so I've been doing research for a long time about the experiences of LGBTQ folks in the workplace, kind of more broadly, I'm interested in kind of all people identify with some sort of minority status. I think it can be a little narrow to just focus on like, well, I don't care about people of color because I just want to study like gay people or something like that. Like, I mean, just in kind of the common experiences that a lot of people face, but yeah, I've been studying LGBT folks for a long time. My personal lens through which I look at this topic in this population. And it's funny, I, I think within like my field, like people kind of know me for always being the person that remind people, that LGBTQ folks in the workplace and in life really, face a lot of challenges and difficulties. And I don't want to ever minimize that. But then if you ask LGBTQ folks or anybody that identifies with a minority status, would you take a pill to change and become straight or become white or become male or whatever that I'll say no, being gay is amazing. I would never get rid of it. And so this real kind of benefits and positive aspects as well. And so as someone that's interested in just exploring the human condition and for me in the workplace, like I just kind of want to see everyone's full experience, the good, the bad, the positive and the negative.

Lauren: (05:34)
So my mom works in a very corporate setting and she hates the word diversity. I'm a black queer woman. My mother is also black. So when they say we're going to have a diversity event, my mom's like, what is diversity? Why does it matter? Like what does that bring up for you? I'm sure you might hear parts of that often.

Lauren: (05:50)
Yeah. It's interesting. I, in saying the word diversity a lot, when talking to organizations, that's a, no-no you don't diversity. Nowadays is inclusion. You talk a lot about inclusion, but now I'm seeing even talk about like equity and whatnot. It's the end of the day. It's just people trying to kind of do the right thing and changing the language to try to kind of appease people that are not comfortable with certain things. I think that unfortunately in some circles that were diversity has conjured up this idea of like, oh, you're just trying to be politically correct. You're just trying to prioritize some people over others. And so it's sad that we have to kind of like monitor our words to try to make other people feel comfortable. But unfortunately, that, that was the brakes. When they say like, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do. There's research that shows that like, if you frame something as diversity training, then people will just automatically walk in and feel negative about it. Whereas if you frame it as, I don't remember the exact study, but if you frame it in terms of like a learning opportunity or something or an inclusion or something, people automatically feel better. And so if you walk in automatically feeling negative about something, you're not going to learn. So yeah, Lauren, I do agree with you that that word unfortunately, has become difficult in some ways. And so therefore, unfortunately people have to kind of work around that.

Austin: (07:10)
So we talked to Teri earlier about kind of the experiential side of being queer in the workplace and what it is to be a queer in the workplace. And so I'm really interested to hear from your research brain and from that side of the conversation with your OI background and what barriers you see for queer people in the workplace.

Nick: (07:31)
Well, you know, it's interesting to think about this because again, if I want to put it on the lens of like, I've been kind of thinking about this issue for 20 years, a lot of people in 2021 are like gay people. Got it, great. Homophobia is over. Transphobia is over. And that's clearly not true. And so I think that there still are barriers. And I think that because a lot of people think that, oh, it's people are accepting of gay people anymore. It ends up hiding a lot of the barriers that still exist. You might get less and you don't get zero, but you might get less like overt discrimination, but there's still going to be these, a lot of implicit assumptions and implicit beliefs and implicit attitudes. Sometimes if the person doesn't even realize they're doing it because people have this collective idea or many people have this collective idea that like, oh, gay people have it fine now, they ignore a lot of these assumptions about people. I did a study last year where I interviewed number of people identified as LGBTQ leaders. And you know, one of the common themes I heard was I asked her like, what stereotypes do people hold against you? And just kind of assuming that people would hold all these like negative stereotypes about gay people. But instead of the more common thing was, people talked about what I call positive, problematic stereotypes, uh, gay males, people would say to them like, oh, you're gay. Like, you must love fashion. Let's talk about this or something that, and they're like, it kind of ends up diminishing me and reducing meat and nothing, but this like silly stereotype of a person like, oh, you're a lesbian, can you help me fix this thing in the break room or something? And so I think a lot of the barriers come there. People make these kinds of like underlying assumptions about people, they're, they're kind of ended up being problematic, kind of negative, and they don't always take them seriously. I mean, those barriers, of course, on top of, especially in the past four or five years, we have to acknowledge the rise and very overt discrimination as well. I mean, that's certainly not gone.

Austin: (09:33)
I'm interested since you, you mentioned that the rise of that discrimination and I know your work has spanned a couple of years. And so I'm interested to hear how the research has changed in the last 20 years, the research on queer people in the workplace and those barriers and how, how it was and how it is now.

Nick: (09:50)
Yeah, it's interesting. I actually just write a chapter on this topic last year. And like, it's interesting to see how research on this topic, what people are studying mirrors what's going on in society at the time 20 years or so ago. A lot of the resource was just on what we would refer to as like identity management or like what makes people choose to disclose or come out at work? What makes people choose not to? How is it received and whatnot. And so for decades, we've had a lot of research on that when same-sex marriage was legalized, a number of years ago, we started seeing a spike in research on LGBTQ work-life issues, because suddenly people were thinking about these things. When the military, when like don't ask don't tell was banned or dissolved or whatever word you want to use for it, there was suddenly some research that was done on LGBTQ folks in the military. And so it's been interesting to kind of see that in recent years, I've seen an uptake on this kind of like implicit research and plus discrimination, a lot of research recently on allyship as well. How like people outside of the LGBTQ community can be a part of the conversation. And part of helping the situation.

Lauren: (11:02)
Something that you might not know about me is that I'm really interested in getting my PhD. So I'm very much diving into the research similarly, as you, and definitely in the queer fields, specifically in race theory and something I can relate to is this gap in the research. It's very difficult to find certain topics about marginalized communities, about these marginalized topics specifically. And I'm really wondering how you have faced those challenges, how you've filled those gaps. How have you done research about topics that have never been researched before?

Nick: (11:32)
Yeah, I mean, it's interesting. So, I mean, in my field, like when there's kind of, not much to go off of, we often start with like qualitative research. Like I said, I did these interviews last year. A lot of times just to kind of hear directly from the people, like, what are you experiencing? And I think that qualitative research like interviews and focus groups and open-ended stuff is especially important when researching people identify as a minority because like these are populations that are often silenced already. And so giving them a voice and, you know, just tell me about your experiences, I think is really important. You know, you mentioned race and I think that it's certainly within the field of LGBTQ folks, uh, research is an understudied topic. I mean, really all of like a lot of intersectionality is when you talk about like an LGBTQ person, you probably would agree with me.

Nick: (12:23)
A lot of people automatically in their mind think of a white person. If I say like, oh, that's the gay man. People automatically think of a gay man. And unfortunately all of the research has been done on gay men or on white gay men. Why is this it's difficult? I think there's a lot of well intentioned people out there, but then there's also the challenge of like what percent of the population is LGBTQ, like 5%. And then what percent of the LGBTQ population identifies as like a person of color, certainly under 50%, it just becomes like a small sample. And so therefore just for like finding the right population, it becomes difficult. And then also kind of, it becomes weird in some ways for like outsiders to be coming in. Speaking on behalf of some of these communities, I have two colleagues of mine that identify as cisgender, want to do research on transgender folks.

Nick: (13:15)
And so went to a trans conference and we're collecting data. Can we hear from you? And a lot of the people there were like, who are you? What do you want to do with this data against me? And you can use it against me. You got to tell my employer because it was kind of seen as like an outsider. And so like for me, I identify as a white man. It feels weird for me in some ways, if I wanted to do research on people of color to be like making statements about like, well, this is what black people go through when I'm like, I mean, sure I've got data, but like, that doesn't mean I know what happens, you know? So it just becomes like a whole host of things that happen. But the end result is that we just don't have a lot of research on the intersectional topics, unfortunately, but we're seeing more of it.

Lauren: (13:59)
Which is great news. Quick question for you. So when you talked about the fields that you went into, why did you want to go into psychology specifically? Right. Like the same topic could have been researched in a different field, whether that be American studies or English or History. Why specifically psychology? Sociology. Why, why pick psychology?

Nick: (14:21)
So, it's the funniest story in the world. When I was in high school, I worked at the buffet. It was like objectively kind of a terrible job because it was like this like low end restaurant. When you work in the buffet, you're just talking food all day. So like, I always smelled like food. Like even when I left, the customers were so mean and they just yell at you all the time. They really did though. They're like, why don't we have any broccoli here? You know? But like, I cannot tell you how much I loved that job. My best friend from my high school, we both worked there and we both still talk about it. Until they went out of business couple of years ago, whenever we'd go home and visit, we still ate there. We used to make jokes among the people. Like, would you get the name of this restaurant tattooed on your forehead for a thousand dollars or silly stuff like that?

Nick: (15:02)
And so like ever since then, every job I've ever had, I've always kind of liked. I just am the type of person that likes working. And I've always felt like you spend so much of your time at your job. You know, you spend more time at your job than not. If I can help people enjoy their jobs a little bit more, I will feel like I'm doing right by the world. You know, I'll feel like I'm contributing something. So that's why I kind of entered the field of workplace psychology because I've wanted to like go into help people enjoy their job experience. Maybe even just a little bit.

Lauren: (15:39)
I absolutely love that.

Nick: (15:41)
Thank you.

Austin: (15:43)
I feel like people spend so much time at work and doing their jobs. And so to be able to enjoy that and feel a sense of purpose there, and a sense of belonging at work is so important. In terms of research, as we were speaking on that, and this potentially could be a gap in the research that needs to be filled, but is there any research specifically about money and about promotions are queer people being promoted at the same rate as their heteronormative counterparts? Why and why not?

Nick: (16:15)
So there's research that kind of talks around that issue. And to be fair, I obviously don't know every study that's ever been done, but I, I suspect there's certainly not been much that explicitly looks at that or there hasn't been any, maybe just because like, it's hard to like get a sample of people that are going to talk about whether or not they got promoted and then a comparison sample of heterosexual folks as well. But it's research that would kind of support and talk about this. So for instance, there's a pretty common theory in leadership research on gender called "think manager, think male". And it's this idea that like, again, if somebody talks about a manager or a leader, the prototypical idea you have in your head is a male. So when like females come in and they're leaders, they just don't fit the implicit assumption that people have about leaders.

Nick: (17:04)
And therefore, because of that, there's like a dissonance in people's minds and they just feel negative about the woman because she's not the person they expected out of a leader. I've done some research that looks at how think manager think male works among gay and lesbian leaders. What we found is we looked at like perceptions about gay male leaders, lesbian leaders, heterosexual, female leaders, heterosexual males, and the gay males were reviewed the worst, even though they were male people holds assumptions about gay men that they're feminine. And so therefore the gay men were seen as feminine and they weren't fitting that leadership prototype. The lesbians were kind of somewhere in the middle. And I think because there's kind of a dissonance of like, well, you're a lesbian. So that makes you like a man is like backwards as that is, but you're also a female. So I just don't know what to make of you. So they just fell kind of in the middle. But I feel like,

Lauren: (18:00)
Okay, what I find difficult about this research is that it's so I feel like you can so easily base it around stereotypes, right? There are plenty of gay men who are masculine and plenty of gay women who are feminine and they often get left out in this conversation. So what do you think of that dichotomy of expression?

Nick: (18:21)
Yeah. So I mean, to your point, I will say that you're right. That's what the theory is about. It's about what stereotypes people hold about. But when people don't fit those stereotypes, it just further confuses people. So like a gay male that acts masculine or a lesbian that acts feminine. I mean, at the end of the day, sexual orientation does not dictate one's gender expression. So they're kind of doesn't matter. But when gay men act masculine, when lesbians act feminine, it can further confuse what people expect of a gay man or a lesbian. That confusion of course can lead to. Like, I feel negative about you and I don't know why, so it could be that, or it could end up being, well share you're gay, but you're not one of those gays. So you're okay because you don't act gay or you're lesbian, but like you still look like a woman, so you're fine. And that's super problematic. That's really, really problematic. And again, that goes back to what I was saying before of the barriers of people aren't saying, I don't like gay men saying like, oh no, no, I don't mind gay man. As long as they don't act too gay. And you're one of the good ones, see, you're fine. Like that's just as problematic even though the person thinks they're being better, I guess.

Lauren: (19:36)
From a psychologic perspective, what is that next step? So after saying you confuse me and I don't know why. And then you think negatively about that. What is that next step specifically in psychology, right? Like if this is your work, this is what you study. What is that next, the level of after we get past that barrier, what is the next thought that should be happening? Whether it's people of color, marginalized communities, or if it's the people who are interacting with these marginalized people.

Nick: (20:05)
Yeah. I mean, so there's this theory in social psychology called like the contact hypothesis, that research shows that like, if you have contact and to be fair, it has to be positive contact. But like, if you have positive interactions with somebody who's different than you, that you feel negative about over time, you just feel more positive about the person. We say the classic story in like my undergraduate classes, they'll talk about like my grandfather is a racist, but then once he got to know people of color here is, oh, they're not all that bad. And it's like sad and problematic. That story is it kind of shows that like just spending time and getting to know the people can help. So I think that's one strategy. Another strategy that I've seen people talk about in my research is, and again, I don't love the strategy it's problematic, but like a lot of these people that identify as minority, it's just saying, I focus on my work and I make sure I'm amazing and awesome at my work so that nobody can have anything to complain about me.

Nick: (20:58)
And it sucks because that means like these LGBTQ folks, these people of color, these whoever are being held to a higher standard. There's research that shows, there's a study I can think of that looks at a white manager versus a black manager. And if they make the same mistake, the black manager is dinged for it. And thought of like, as like, oh, he's a bad manager. Whereas the white managers thought of like, oh, it was probably not in his control. And so I don't love the fact that a strategy for minorities is often just kind of like be the best worker you can be so that no one can hold it against you because that's not fair. But that is a strategy a lot of people do.

Austin: (21:36)
Yeah, I think in this conversation about our expression as queer people, confusing others in the workplace specifically, I think it also can be seen as a challenge because we are challenging those stereotypes. We're challenging the patriarchal structure. If I walk in as a overtly queer man wearing a feminine outfit and expressing in a typically feminine way, I think that is something that Terry spoke on as well about speaking about how we dress, how we express, what are some of those conversations and kind of to piggyback off of Lauren's question, if you are a person in the workplace and you can feel that expression and that challenge is being pushed back against, what are some active things that you can do in the workplace?

Nick: (22:21)
Gosh, that's a tough question, isn't it? Yeah. I mean, I think yo your point about if you are expressing yourself and you are masculine and your feminine, you know, and I think that it just continues to cause confusion. The thing that's striking me is just the mental taxation, the difficulty of, like you said, having to like push back and having to challenge people. I've been challenging people for 20 years. I like that. But I also know how exhausting it can be to always have to be the one to do that. And especially when it's not your fault, you're not the one that's backwards or in their thinking, you know? And so you shouldn't have to be the one to clean up that mess. You know, one strategy could be educating people, educating the people around you that can be great in that can help solve the issue. So they don't think negatively about you, but that's just more burden on you. You know, some people say that, like I quit my job. I went and got another job elsewhere where they're more accepting. That's great, but that's also a burden on you. You know. I don't love this line of thought because all I'm saying is like, look at all the burdens that you're going to have on people. And that's not fair, but it's often kind of...

Lauren: (23:32)
I feel like, if I may interject, I feel like the question - and Austin, you can challenge me on this because I'm challenging you. But I feel like the question is less, what can these oppressed people do as a strategy and more so, what can, the people who are more privileged, whether that's being cis-gendered or sexuality wise do as a strategy to not inflict that oppression?

Nick: (23:53)
That's a great point. You know, we mentioned allyship before, and this is something that is certainly being talked about a lot in general, but also honestly, since last summer, the George Floyd murder. Diversity and specifically being kind of operationalized through allyship is really being talked about a lot in organizations. And so I think that organizations stepping it up and doing stuff so that all the burden doesn't fall on the people identify as minorities is really important. Allyship is very difficult. You know, we talk a lot about performative allyship and especially in the workplace, just kind of workplaces like, which, okay, just recently I was asked to help out with this organization and they basically reached out to this consulting firm and was like, we want to do a diversity thing because we don't do diversity here. Can you help us? And like, we're like, okay, so what, what's the issue? What would you like to do? And they're like, we don't know, we just kind of don't do anything about diversity, so I should do diversity. So, you know, and then, of course next month is pride month, which get ready for every organization is going to put up the rainbow sticker for 30 days or whatever, you know? And so when I say organizations doing allyship, I mean, real, genuine look in the mirror and kind of like ask yourself some tough questions. And there's a lot of work that can be done, I think in a minimal level. And at times possibly it can be counterproductive to have like inclusion, trainings, not diversity trainings, but inclusion trainings, or inclusion, learning opportunities, excuse me. But I think more advanced and more progressive companies understand that it's also things like having people in the hiring situations just kind of take a step back and look and be like, Hey, does the applicant pool look cool?

Nick: (25:42)
Or do we need to go back to the recruitment and fast? Like what are you doing? And our succession planning, are we talking about ways of making sure there are minorities in there? And if not, why is it that the only people we see as successful are the white males, cisgender folks, mentorship programs have been seen as really effective for helping minorities, all sorts of affinity groups. Like there's ways that can be done, not necessarily quick one-stop answers, but there's a lot that organizations can do. And the more progressive ones are doing it. I think that companies are realizing now that like to be competitive, especially, you know, in a global level and today's economy and blah, blah, blah, people are the company's number one assets. And if you don't take care of your people and your employees, they're just going to go to the another company that's going to offer better.

Nick: (26:36)
We see research showing that millennials care and gen Zs are now, care more about work-life balance and how they're treated. Absolutely. There's research showing that especially more than older generations. And so companies are realizing they need to do this and need to do it, right. Not just to show that like I am woke, don't cancel me, but do it because that's the way to kind of, I hate using the bottom line answer. You know, a lot of times we'll want to have these discussions is always like, well, how do we sell it and show that you can make money off it. And I think you can show that sure, DEI work can make money, but it's also like the morally right thing to do. And I think that a lot of companies, progressive companies are seeing this now.

Lauren: (27:20)
So in the same question of allyship question, I think that we've all been waiting to get to was this idea of maternity leave versus family leave. I know that we prep as if it were to be maternity leave and Nick, so brilliantly said that it is family leave. Can you speak to what that means? How that ties into what heteronormative CIS people expect from family leave and how we can broaden our understanding of that in the future for queer families and individuals.

Nick: (27:50)
So I like to kind of promote the word family leave because saying maternity leave to me has a connotation to it of like, this is something that mothers should do and that fathers should not do. So. Yeah. You know, as far as kind of, what are some of the barriers that LGBTQ folks face when it comes to taking family leave? You know, the difficulty of like, people don't think men should be taking family leave, but if there's two men in the relationship, it just becomes tricky. If one takes the family leave and the other doesn't. So like for me, I took a semester off and teaching, my husband took one month off. And so some people possibly could look at like, oh, so in other words, Nick is the woman in the relationship and Gary is the man in the relationship. It's like, okay, well, let's, that's a separate issue of the problematic assumption that every gay relationship has a man and a woman.

Nick: (28:42)
But I mean, there's those kinds of things. There's also, especially among lesbian couples or two female couples, the challenge of if like one of them doesn't biologically carry the baby, or if heaven forbid either do when they adopt or something like that, women, because I did a study on this last year and women are often kind of, they say that like their coworkers look at them more negatively, like, well, why didn't you carry the baby? Kind of like, you're a woman. Your role is to carry a baby who is backwards. That is where some women are like, I want to be a mother. I just don't particularly want to carry the baby, you know, which is a perfectly fine option. You know? So I think that some of the barriers are the coworker perceptions and kind of like how people treat you if you take these leaves, but there's also some kind of procedural ones as well.

Nick: (29:32)
And so where I worked, the leave was very generous for people that adopted, or we went through surrogacy that granted me, I don't remember how many weeks I took a whole semester off, but only part of it was through the specific lead, but it was a lot of time, but some companies, so like my colleague of mine, she had a different institution, not where I work. She had like four children of her own and then decide that she wanted to adopt a fifth. And at her organization, when you adopt, you got one week time off and she's like, you can't bond with a child. And their answer was like, well, maternity leave is for women that need to recover from pregnancy. And pregnancy is a physical, it takes a physical toll. And if you are adopting, if you're not carrying the child, like you don't have that physical toll. So you don't need the time off. But parenting isn't just about, physicall tolls. A lot of LGBTQ folks face just kind of like procedural barriers to like getting the time off they need. And again, not because anybody in like the HR department is homophobic, but because of the assumption of like, you need time off to recover and whatnot, and just all in advertently just ends up being more barriers and causes problems for these people.

Lauren: (30:47)
Thank you for that. That's very helpful. And honestly, not something that I think about often enough as someone in my early twenties, I've always been fascinated with psychology, but I've used it more of as an interdisciplinary way to think of things. So it's very interesting to look at something specific from this one point of view, because the way that people feel and how they think in relation to these topics that don't get enough space in conversations is crazy. It's very important, it's crucial.

Austin: (31:15)
So I know we've talked a lot about these barriers that queer people can face in the workplace. And I know Dr. Salter, something you really enjoy talking about are the positive aspects of being in the workplace. So for our final question, I would love to pause it to you. What nuggets of positivity would you give a queer person who has experienced some of the barriers we've conversed about?

Nick: (31:37)
Yeah. You know, I'll talk about this in the context of like people. But I think this really applies to a lot of people that identify outside of the majority. So one thing is specific for LGBTQ folks. There's a lot of theorizing that's been done around the process of just coming out. It's not necessarily even in the workplace, but just coming out in general means you have to learn to be flexible. You have to learn to be adaptable. You have to be in a personally savvy. You have to be able to like walk into a conversation with a new person you've never met and instantly read that person, decide like, can I come out to them or not? And if not, you have to kind of manage the way you talk to make sure you play the pronoun games. You never mentioned he or him or she or her when you're talking about your partner.

Nick: (32:23)
So they never find out that you're gay. You need to make sure that you monitor what you say you did over the weekend. You can't put up pictures of your social life and your desk or something. And so there's a lot of suggestions and that enhancing your skills, your interpersonal skills and your flexibility and adaptability can pay off in the workplace because like, those are all skills that help you in a lot of situations at work. Like anyone that's flexible and adaptable at work is going to succeed and do well. I think that's one positive benefit that a lot of people see a lot of LGBTQ folks that I've talked to also say that just they can connect with others. I think that if you're queer, you can, like, it seems silly to say it but like, oh, you're me too. Like, you can kind of like hit it off a little bit.

Nick: (33:14)
But a lot of also people kind of report that they feel like more of a connection with their heterosexual colleagues as well. You know, heterosexuals often they feel like, oh, you've come out to me. I see you as a more authentic person. And I like authentic people. And so, I mean, obviously it depends on the colleagues and depends on the people, but like that can be, is like a real connection point for people as well. I think that just the positive feelings that can come from feeling comfortable with who you are. I know who I am. I'm not ashamed of myself. I'm proud of myself that can just affect everything around you. You know, like people are drawn to people that are confident, people that are drawn to people that are feel good about themselves. And people drawn to you that can lead to benefits as well and connections and networking and all sorts of things. And finally, also I think a lot of LGBTQ folks, one positive, they feel as they feel like the work I do has meaning if they're doing something to help other LGBTQ folks, the research that I did last year, where I interviewed all those LGBTQ leaders, I mean, very few of them had jobs that were like help gay people. But like a lot of them just consistently said, Lauren's like, I want that job.

Nick: (34:38)
A lot of them talked about, I feel like it's, some of them said, it's a responsibility of mine. Some of them said the cool perk of mine. If I see other younger queer folks, I can help mentor them. Or if I see heterosexual colleagues that are a little off in their understanding or something, I can educate them. And not necessarily in the, like, let me sit you down and kind of like burden suddenly, you know, do all this, but just kind of like a quick correction or something. A lot of people feel like I did something good today and they feel good about that. I mean, like I said, at the end of the day, people often just prefer being queer and they like it. You know, somebody in my study last year said being gay is my superpower. And I think that it's important to kind of remember that, especially when we're presenting ourselves to younger people still in the closet, I don't love the idea of only presenting these sad stories to like people that are still in the closet and to think they're going to have to kind of look and be like, wow, it's going to be so hard for me when I come out. I want them to know that like, it'll be hard, but it'll be awesome too. And it could be both, you know.

Lauren: (35:48)
I love that. I think this is awesome. Thank you so much.

Nick: (35:50)
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me today. I really enjoyed this conversation. I'm glad you reached out to me. I could, like I said in the start, talk about this all day long, so thanks so much.

Austin: (36:00)
Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Dr. Salter, it was such a pleasure speaking with you. For everyone else. Next week, we will continue with our mini series talking about and transgender healthcare. And what are some of the discriminations in policy and healthcare settings that the LGBTQIA+ population are facing?

Lauren: (36:19)
If you have any thoughts or feedback on the episodes or ideas for topics we should cover? Drop us a line at hi@ywynpodcast.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Austin: (36:29)
Thanks again, and see you next week!