Working While Queer

A friend of mine started a new job and has been wrestling with the issue of how, when, or even whether to come out as trans to her new colleagues. It’s an issue that came up repeatedly in my research and reporting for a two-part radio documentary, “Working While Queer,” scheduled to air this month on 200 community radio stations worldwide.

Close up of a microphone with a computer screen in the background.
Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash.

Coming out at work is fraught, despite the promises of legal statutes and corporate policies. Getting ahead on the job comes down to being well-liked, and if your work relationships go sour, you may pay a heavy price — financially and emotionally. But staying in the closet takes a toll, too.

There’s a cost, no matter how you play it.

The documentary features a University of Tennessee professor who lost her contract with the religious studies department shortly after coming out as trans this spring and a biotech manager whose career progress was stymied after she came out as trans in 2012. A queer psychologist weighs in on the challenges facing LGBTQ people in the workplace and offers advice for navigating a hostile work environment.

Listen to Part 1

Listen to Part 2


This is the first radio documentary I’ve produced since 1985 when I wrapped up a four-year stint at KPFK Los Angeles. There, I produced news and feature programming on LGBTQ issues — primarily the rise of the Moral Majority and the emerging AIDS epidemic.

Is This Thing On?

In my new role as a freelance reporter and producer for This Way Out: The International LGBTQ Radio Magazine, I’m working with two of my friends and former colleagues from KPFK, Greg Gordon and Lucia Chappelle, who started the weekly program in 1988. But nothing else about working in radio is as familiar. Slicing and splicing quarter-inch audio tape has given way to digital audio workstations that allow you to edit, mix, record and restore files with the click of a mouse. It’s a new world.

Unfortunately, progress in the larger world seems to have advanced in fits and starts. Some of the names have changed since 1985 (MAGA picks up where the Moral Majority left off) but the struggle for social acceptance and legal protections for LGBTQ people continues as ever.

I’m glad to be back in the fight — and on the air.