Monday, July 22, 2013

Email about being gay in the City

Around the time that I went on holiday with my Thai friend B, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB

Hope you are having great holidays!

I've following your blog for a couple of years now and it's been great to find out more about (your) gay life, both personally and professionally.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on a few things that I find worrisome at the moment. Just to give you some colour - I'm an international student, studying in the UK, and I've moved to London three years ago. I'm decently successful university and job wise, however, I need some advice in regards to 1) my career; 2) sexual life (read: bi/gay, not out to anyone, probably not even myself!); and 3) a link between the two.

First, at the moment I'm experimenting with a couple of guys, only having fun. I don't plan to tell anyone about my sexuality, at least not for now as I'm not sure what I really want. I guess I can give myself some time, and I don't find it particularly problematic. I believe the best thing is to see whether I'll fall in love with someone as I had a couple of straight sex relationships but never actually felt deeper connection with any of my partners. Do you think that's a good strategy?

Second and more important for me, I'm not really sure which career to choose - banking or law. I'm a bit confused as I don't know which one to choose. What is most important and where I feel your contribution to my decision making process can be the largest is - how does it feel to be gay in the City? Would you expect any differences in these two careers? How many of your colleagues are openly gay? I heard people making fun - talking pejoratively about gays in both industries? Have you ever had a feeling that your career progression is related to your sexuality? Do you think there a lot of closet gays in your bank? (I read some previous posts on your blog, but I'd appreciate if you can expand more on it than you previously did with the sauna anecdote). Some general observations on both careers will be great.

Finally, two quickies - if you meet someone at gaydar, is it conventional to meet up with the same person again? I find it more convenient (saves time) but people seem to be very reluctant after a second meeting. Just curious... The last one - is there maybe any way of meeting City professionals, who are not out? Just to make it clear - I'm not looking for any financial benefit (e.g. Oxbridge graduate with good job prospects), but I'd just like to meet some gay people, who have similar interests like me, but obviously I don't want everyone to find out. (Exaggerating a bit, no one probably cares about me, but I want to keep it down for the moment).

Many thanks in advance, Grateful reader

Firstly, I think this reader's gay personal life strategy is absolutely fine :-). Secondly, I usually avoid giving general career advice, however some of the reader's career questions relate to being gay in the City so I'm happy to say something about that.

Regarding being gay in the City, as long as someone is reasonably confident in their ability to do a good job at whatever firm they work for, then I don't think they should worry about it at all. I never felt that my career was hampered in any way when people found out that I was gay. I even came out to my boss in 1992, which was a long time before there were any legal employment protections, and my career at that bank had no problems.

The fact is that in all walks of life, people are always making jokes about other people's perceived weaknesses or shortcomings. In that sense, life is just like being in the school playground, where kids poke fun at each other for being too fat or too short or too anything! On my recent holiday, I was told that Dutch people sometimes tell jokes about Flemish people being stupid, and in turn Flemish people sometimes tell jokes about Dutch people being arrogant. Being gay is just another characteristic that it's possible to tell jokes about. This aspect of everyday life is probably a bit harsher in the City than elsewhere. However, if someone does make a joke about someone's characteristics, my advice would be for them to take it as a compliment that they've been noticed :-). In the recent past, Stonewall ran an advert on the side of London buses which said "Some people are gay. Get over it!". I feel that the City got over it many years ago.

Regarding online cruising, I've often hooked-up with the same guy after an initial meeting that went well. If a guy is reluctant for a subsequent meeting, then it suggests to me that either
  1. he's a very very cruisy guy and simply wants to *do* everyone he finds faintly attractive once only, or
  2. He didn't find the first meeting with you sufficiently enjoyable to warrant a second helping.
If this is happening a lot, then unfortunately my guess is that it's the second reason, so perhaps you're a bit selfish in the bedroom? My advice would be that in future whenever you meet a guy for activities, then you should try and make sure that he has at least as much fun as you do! If you do that, then even if he's a very very cruisy guy then he may want to meet you again :-).

In terms of meeting gay city professionals, there's still the monthly drinks for gay people working in banking, see the interbank LGBT forum website. I'm sure that many of the guys who go along to that aren't out to everyone that they know, so I think that's your best bet when you're ready for it.

Do any other readers have any thoughts for this reader?


Andy said...

Re: the career. If you do wish to be a lawyer, working in-house in an investment bank may well be a nicer life.

However, you could always go to magic circle, then shift over into banking afterwards - just make sure that your area of specialisation is transferable, but I am sure it would be commercial in nature anyway.

To get offers in this climate is very good indeed ;)-

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