Most notably, discrimination against gay and lesbian employees, or even those who appear to be gay, is legal in most workplaces in the United States. Between 25% and 66% of gay employees experience workplace discrimination, including losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation. This represents a conservative estimate because most gay and lesbian employees do not fully reveal their sexual identity at work (Ragins & Cornwell, 2001 a). Moreover, unlike race and gender, sexual orientation is generally invisible. This complicates the study of both heterosexism and the workplace experiences of gay and lesbian employees. Finally, there is an affective component of heterosexism, homophobia, which has no counterpart in racism or sexism.
As these differences suggest, existing models and theories of race and gender discrimination may have limited applicability to the study of sexual orientation-based discrimination. We need to chart a separate, though related, course of study that examines the unique workplace experiences of this understudied population. The purpose of this paper is to guide future research by illuminating the complexities, issues, and dilemmas in the study of sexual orientation in the workplace. Besides the paper addresses the legal undergrounds of homosexuality on the workplace and discusses whether it should be regulated/protected by law; gives points to the impacts of homosexuality on the profits, productivity, efficiency and other important indicators of organizational performance and, finally, relates the phenomena of homosexuality to Christian realities when reflecting it from religious point of view.
The invisibility of sexual orientation sets gay men apart from most other marginalized groups. For the most part, the sexual orientation of gay employees becomes visible only when they communicate it, a process known as "coming out." Coming out is an ongoing process, and the decision to disclose sexual orientation must be made with every new person a gay man meets (Appleby, 2001). Consequently, gay employees face an ongoing and often challenging process of negotiating their invisible identity in the workplace (Ragins, 2004).
Gay employees use various strategies to manage disclosure of their sexual identity. Woods (1993) identified three tactics used in the workplace. Individuals can:
(a) "counterfeit" or construct a heterosexual identity;
(b) use an avoidance strategy in which they evade the issue, maintain a social distance, and appear to be asexual; and
(c) use an integration strategy and openly disclose their sexual identity to others at work. Woods (1993) found that nearly all of the 70 gay male professional workers under study sought to avoid discrimination by posing as a heterosexual at some point in their careers. Existing research indicates that gay employees' attitudes towards identifying with gay groups, as well as the organizational context, predict the use of various identity management strategies.
Most gay employees report that they limit the disclosure of their sexual identity to a select group of trustworthy coworkers (Ragins, 2004). For example, a recent national study of 534 gay men revealed that 12% of the sample were out to no one at work, 37% were out to some people, 24% were out to most people, and 27% reported that they were out to everyone at work (Ragins & Cornwell, 2001 a). Coming out to some coworkers, but not all, can create considerable ambiguity as to "who knows and who does not.