Q: Is it appropriate to discuss gay lifestyle issues at work? I’m a straight male employee at a software company, and several of my colleagues are gay or bi. I talk with them (as I do with my straight co-workers) about nonwork-related issues like weekend activities, which sometimes involve their time at a gay bar or nightclub. Also, what about invitations to after-work events at known gay establishments? I don’t particularly want to spend time in a gay club, but I don’t want to offend my colleagues either, since my work situation depends greatly on their assistance and cooperation.
A: The first thought I have is: Is it appropriate to talk about straight lifestyle issues at work? Yes, it is. We do it every day. It’s equally appropriate for gay colleagues to discuss gay lifestyle issues. What’s not appropriate is to allow any conversation to veer into topics that are going to make other people uncomfortable, regardless of lifestyle. When the conversation delves into highly personal, private, or controversial issues, it has crossed the bounds of what’s appropriate for an office environment. Socializing with co-workers is a great way to build stronger working relationships in the office. While it doesn’t sound like you want to spend every weekend going out to bars with your gay colleagues, doing so once in a while may well be worthwhile. At the same time, why not turn the tables and ask them to join you at a bar of your choosing one night?