THE CORPORATE CLOSET by James D. Woods

THE CORPORATE CLOSET

The Professional Lives of Gay Men in America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A revealing and timely, if partisan, description of the strategies that gay men assume in order to function among heterosexuals in corporate life. Woods (Communication/CUNY) began this study as a Ph.D. dissertation, then was joined in the writing by Lucas, who runs an ``organizational development firm'' specializing in employment issues relevant to gays. Although many of the homosexuals who replied to Woods's survey insist that sexuality is irrelevant to their business lives, the author complains that corporate life is in fact dominated by the sexual identities of heterosexuals, as expressed by family pictures on their desks and discussions of weekend activities. Some gay men, he explains, use various strategies to hide their own sexual orientation--including establishing boundaries, making up stories, choosing sympathetic allies, evading the issue by using verbal and situational dodges, distracting with other eccentricities, remaining ambiguous, or simply withdrawing. While none of Woods's respondents regrets coming out of the closet, those who have do so with accompanying corporate-life strategies: minimizing visibility; ``normalizing the abnormal''; ``dignifying the difference''; exceeding the employer's expectations; or accepting tokenism. Whatever the penalties for coming out, Woods says, businesses profit from having workers who are uninhibited by their sexuality, whose self-esteem is enhanced by going public and who therefore are more productive workers. Throughout, Woods reveals the strategies necessary for any minority (sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious) to survive in a conventional, homogeneous corporate world--but, as he makes clear in his perceptive study, of all these minorities, it's only gays who move through that world with their particular identity unshielded by law from harassment or abuse.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-935603-2
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993