The Office Christmas Party:

Closet You vs. Out-and-Proud You

By Phil Clements

It’s been a long graft in the run-up to the festive period, you’re looking to enjoy yourself, and it’s your chance to let your metaphorical hair down. Yours just happens to be all the colours of the rainbow.

But are you being honest about it, or hiding it under that big hat you found at the back of the closet?

Perhaps it’s time to be your authentic self. We’re a fan of that here at Pride AM.

As you’re ushered into a tinselled batcave in the glittering bowels of some swanky bar, Rajdev asks you what your plans are over the Christmas period.

Closet You tries to explain that you and your partner are travelling up to Kibblesworth to visit his mum, but without ever mentioning your partner’s gender. This makes your response come across as stilted and strangely clandestine, as though you may just be making the whole thing up and you’re actually spending Christmas secretly plotting to take over the world with an army of cyborgs.

Rajdev’s a bit weirded-out that the conversation doesn’t flow more freely and you can feel it, which makes it even more awkward. Quick! Escape the Gay Shame Loop!

Out-and-Proud You can talk about your personal life like it’s…well…just your perfectly natural personal life. As it turns out, Rajdev could do with your help on a campaign that’s going to feature an LGBT+ couple. The creative team wants to make sure the tone is right. Merry Xmas, Rajdev.

Alas, the subject of same-sex marriage brings us to Gwendolyn. She’s had a few too many and is banging on about how LGBT+ rights are all well and good, but this marriage stuff is a step too far. “Next,” she declares in a manner she imagines to be hilariously witty, “people will be marrying their dogs.”

Closet You might wonder when this pompous windbag will finally feel fully emptied, while you secretly feel alienated. Out-and-Proud You might point out that until the 14th century in Europe, same-sex relationships were welcomed and solemnised by the Church, so it makes little sense for any modern Christian to consider it an earth-shattering problem. Of course, many modern Christians really don’t.

Gwendolyn might pull that expression of horror and bafflement that you know too well. It’s okay. She’s just questioning everything she’s ever known. Merry Xmas, Gwendolyn.

The DJ’s playing a song that has your name all over it – it’s definitely time to hit the floor.

Closet You will probably play statues, because we’ve all heard that heterosexual males express their level-headed practicality by keeping their arms rigidly by their sides whenever music threatens to liberate them.

So you spend your time wistfully gazing at Out-and-Proud You who’s free to shake your groove thang. Doesn’t matter if it’s Beyoncé or Bowie, Skrillex or Sepultura, you can flail around like Kate Bush on a waltzer until you’re absolutely exhausted. And then you decide to make chitchat with Leonard.

“Hi Leonard” – oh, but wait – Leonard has given you a distrusting look and now he’s telling homophobic jokes. Something about seating four gay men at a bar. The proposed solution sounds both painful and rather unhygienic . And it definitely suggests that no-one at the bar was a top.

Closet You feels obliged to provide that all important cover of guilty laughter. You keep telling yourself it’s just a joke, but actually it’d be lovely to get through just one of these parties without someone suggesting you should have furniture inserted into you. I know, right?

Out-and-Proud You can point out that someone working in advertising really shouldn’t be relying on lazy 1970s stereotypes. No awards at Cannes for you this year, Leonard.

Melissa from HR has joined the conversation, so now he has nothing to say. Aw. Merry Xmas, Leonard

Thankfully, not everyone in the room agrees with him. There are people who joined the 21st Century almost as soon as the millennium celebrations were over. One of them happens to be that super hot guy from facilities who just offered to get you a drink.

Closet You keeps schtum about how marvellous he is and awkwardly talks about literally anything – dog training, onions, the shape of shoes – just to avoid dropping those big gay hairpins all over the carpet. All around you, heterosexual folks are flirting outrageously, but you’ve been led to believe that for you it’s a crime. And all the while you’re inwardly screaming for the joy of a smile, a hug, the human touch. You really need to fix this.

Out-and-Proud You can flirt charmingly (and, of course, respectfully) and who knows; maybe this time you actually won’t make a hideous fool of yourself by winking in a way that’s reminiscent of Vincent Price in Theatre of Blood. Yes! You managed it! A Christmas miracle!

Merry Christmas to everyone, but to you most of all.

Written by Phil Clements



Disclaimer: This article is an amalgamation of a series of shared stories from within the industry, and in no way criticises or comments upon one or any agency or company. The names used in this article are not true to form and do not represent specific or real individuals. In addition, some information has been shaped or edited in order to fit the narrative, and are not intended to be an entirely accurate reproduction of factual stories.