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Glad my boss is

Glad my boss is


Despite potential complications, young gays say they are much happier and more comfortable with openly gay bosses.

When gay man Josh Blye, now 22, got a job at age 16 with the Gap, he found himself working for a straight man who largely ignored him. For a year and a half "we never spoke to each other," says Blye. Whether because of discomfort, latent homophobia, or fear of mixed messages, Blye's boss kept him at arm's length. "He would talk to the female sales reps, but not to me," Blye says.

Since then Blye, who lives in upstate New York, has worked for several different companies, and all of his subsequent bosses have been gay. "The last boss I had is one of my closest friends to this day," he says.

A few years ago George Cofone, now 26 and living in Brooklyn, N.Y., worked in a Manhattan office for a straight man who rarely interacted with him. Now Cofone works at a coffeehouse for a 45-year-old gay boss. "It's one of the best working relationships I've had with anyone," Cofone says. "We just clicked--I feel he's an older version of myself."

A working relationship between an older gay boss and a younger gay employee might at first seem ripe for complications. There is the possibility of attraction between the two or the blurring of other workplace boundaries. But for young gay men like

Cofone and Blye, having a gay boss has meant having a friend and a mentor who can understand who they are. "We are similar in our personalities, outlooks, experiences, and we definitely have the same sense of humor," says Cofone. "I don't know how many times we've quoted Mommie Dearest."

New York City resident Garrett Greer, now 21, was 20 when he began working as a dormitory resident adviser in college. He worked for an older gay man who became a confidant and lay therapist to him. "I'd go to him about boy stuff," says Greer, who adds that his boss doled out advice whenever it was needed. "If we were at a staff meeting and he saw that I was upset, he'd stop by my room afterwards and ask me about it."

"[My last boss and I] understood each other very well without having to say it," echoes Blye. "If I was late for work, he'd know I was upset and back off for a day. We'd always be taking care of each other in ways I've never experienced before at any other job, just because we knew each other so well."

But having a gay boss hasn't always been perfect, Greer says. He's had two, and one of them used his sexuality to manipulate young gay employees. "He was an attractive guy, very friendly, and was an older person in power," says Greer. "Some of the other boys there had crushes on him, and he knew that and would use it to his advantage." Greer doubts any of those crushes turned sexual, but he says his former boss would occasionally send flirty e-mails in an effort to get his way.

"Jonah Cook," a 20-year-old New York City resident who declined to use his real name, had a great experience working with his gay boss, but he admits sexuality--though not acted on--was a factor in their relationship. "I think there is a sexually charged element in gay working environments," Cook says. "But the real meat of our relationship was our bonding on an intellectual level and our shared interest. He was more like an uncle to me; I felt completely safe around him." Though the men interviewed for this story noted that by and large their gay bosses were attractive, none of them considered pursuing anything outside of work. Says Greer, "The impropriety is dependent on the [employee]."

For Cofone, who grew up in a small town in New Jersey, having a gay boss meant finally having a queer mentor and role model. "It was the first time I had someone to look up to who was a gay adult," he says.

Blye also sees his gays bosses as men worthy of emulation. "All my [gay] supervisors are successful, happy, pleasant people," he says. "By watching them I can see what my life could be."

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