To Bee or Not to Bee

September 22, 2012

I was up in the hills above Salt Lake City poking around in a huge stand of pink and white spreading dogbane when I took this photo. "Check out that bumble bee!" I thought, as I snapped the shot.

Only, it’s no bee. It’s actually a bumble bee scarab, or bee beetle. Here, it is seen collecting pollen, exactly like a bee would. From a distance, it looks like a bee and flies like one, but up close, you can see that it has shiny, hard wing covers and tell-tale scarab antennae. By pretending to be a bumblebee, it is assured of being left alone.

Nature is full of things pretending to be other things for safety and protection. Many of us in the LGBTQI world do the same – whether we intentionally hide in plain sight, or just “pass” as heterosexual, cis-gendered, or vanilla without meaning to. It can keep us safe, but it can also lead to greater cognitive dissonance and unhappiness.

Studies by organizations like Out and Equal show that people who are closeted in the workplace are less happy, less likely to build rapport with coworkers, and, as a result, less likely to be promoted. Many businesses, especially large international corporations, are beginning to recognize this and to actively encourage a culture change that allows them to keep LGBTQ employees happy, and to keep good talent in the pool. It's just one piece that can help companies stay competitive in today's tough times. You can check a company’s score at HRC's Buyer's Guide. (by Madelyn Boudreaux)

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