What comes to mind when you think of a gay person?
Was it QANTAS Group CEO Alan Joyce, the CEO of the Business Council of Australia Jennifer Westacott, or perhaps Bank Of Queensland CEO George Frazis? Chances are, these weren’t the first names that came to mind when you thought of LGBT+ Australian icons.
Despite leading a collective +$15 billion worth of leading national brands, these queer business leaders aren’t often the names that come to mind when we think of the gay community.
As a gay young professional myself I often find myself wondering what society’s perception of the LGBT+ professional community is, and just how visible one should be in the workforce. I find myself torn on this. On one hand, I want to be out and proud to show others that you can be gay and excel at anything you set your mind to, but at the same time, I also don’t want to reinforce the stereotypes that critics have used to define the gay community in the past.
What prompted this line of thinking for me was a conversation with my now ex-boyfriend’s father a few years ago.
This conversation took place over dinner the first time I met his father. After finding out that I ran my own company his dad and I spent a great deal of time chatting about business and management and we had a brilliant evening. At the end of the night, he thanked me for the conversation and made a comment that whilst was meant as endearing, has had me pondering society’s perception of LGBT+ professionals ever since.
He said, “Well done Scott, it’s really great to see a gay with a real career!”
This comment got me thinking about society’s perception of the types of jobs you have when you’re gay. Today you can find members of the LGBT+ community working in organisations big and small in everything from entry-level roles up to c-suite executives. Despite the queer community kicking goals in the boardroom, for some reason, a large portion of the general population still assume that all gay people are confined to a very narrow stereotype of careers and lifestyles often portrayed in movies and TV shows from the 1980’s.
This got me wondering about how queer professionals can be more visible in the workforce. But this then led me to ask, just how gay should you be in the office? Should I be wearing seven-inch stilettos with my suit? Perhaps I should be wearing a cheeky pride pin on my blazer? Or is it being gay something that should only be talked about in hushed tones by the water cooler?
This is something that I am still yet to find an answer to, and even today as a proud, openly gay young professional I find myself within a year going from wearing heels at the work christmas party to smiling and nodding awkwardly as some of our more traditional clients try to set me up with their daughters.
Whilst queer professionals have come a long way in recent decades, we still have a long way to go, and while I may not have the perfect answer, I implore you all to ensure you’re visible to not only inspire the next generation of queer young professionals, but to also show some of the more traditional thinkers out there that you can excel in anything you set your mind to regardless of your sexuality.
So I ask you again, who comes to mind when you think of a gay person?
About The Author:
The tech-head prodigy behind BOP Industries, Scott Millar is a young entrepreneur taking the world by storm. Compared to a young Steve Jobs after turning a year nine business project into a thriving business, Scott finished high school and deferred university to run BOP Industries full time, now with a growing presence around the world. As a now 22-year-old, Scott has recently been named one of Australia’s top 30 under 30 in business, Asia Pacific’s Inspiring Youth Leader for 2019, Queensland's Small Business Leader for 2021, Griffith University Entrepreneur In Residence and an LGBT advocate and leader in Australia and overseas.
To find out more about Scott and to see if he's available to speak at your next event, head to: www.iamscottmillar.com/speaking