STRAIGHT JOBS, GAY LIVES by Annette Friskopp


Gay and Lesbian Professionals, the Harvard Business School, and the American Workplace
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 A stultifying tome surveying the work experiences of white- collar gays and lesbians. Friskopp and Silverstein, both Harvard Business School graduates, interrogated more than 100 of their fellow gay and lesbian HBS alumni about the challenges homosexuality had posed for them in their careers. The authors stress, in murky prose, that both overt and covert discrimination still exist in the business world, especially corporate failure to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners. But while the discussions of corporate policies on gay issues can be enlightening, the professionals under scrutiny here constitute such an elite that their experiences will probably speak to relatively few readers. They are all impeccably buttoned- down and well connected, typically employed at middle to upper managerial level in conservative, networky fields like consulting and financial services. The authors also state that, on average, these men and women accepted their sexuality (or, in the authors' unhappy phrasing, ``came out to themselves'') much later than most gays and lesbians, and suggest that they're basically more repressed. A lot of them remain in the closet, which, as the authors point out, makes them much more vulnerable to a whole range of obstacles from the homophobic slurs of ignorant colleagues to ``an amorphous lack of fit.'' While many reasonable concerns are expressed by the authors and their subjects, other issuessuch as corporate sponsorship of in-house gay organizationswill strike many readers who don't belong to this demographic as luxuries, not standard expectations. The authors repeatedly state that the more open their subjects were about their sexuality, the fewer problems they encountered in balancing business and personal life. An extensive appendix itemizes resources for gay and lesbian professionals. A few valuable points buried in a long-winded argument for coming out.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-80424-7
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1995