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J Appl Psychol. 2007 Jul;92(4):1103-18.

Making the invisible visible: fear and disclosure of sexual orientation at work.

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Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53211, USA.


Stigma theory was used to examine the fears underlying the disclosure of a gay identity at work. Using a national sample of 534 gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees, this study examined the antecedents that affect the degree of disclosure of a gay identity at work and, for those who had not disclosed, the factors that influence their fears about full disclosure. Employees reported less fear and more disclosure when they worked in a group that was perceived as supportive and sharing their stigma. Perceptions of past experience with sexual orientation discrimination were related to increased fears but to greater disclosure. For those who had not fully disclosed their stigma, the fears associated with disclosure predicted job attitudes, psychological strain, work environment, and career outcomes. However, actual disclosure was unrelated to these variables. The utility of fear of disclosure for understanding processes underlying the disclosure of gay and other invisible stigmatized identities in the workplace is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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