Bloomberg Businessweek

Hiding in The Corner Office Closet

A conversation with former BP CEO John Browne, now chairman of L1 Energy Holdings, on the price of not being out in corporate life

Bloomberg Businessweek: How were LGBT people treated when you first started working?

Lord Browne: I was born a long time ago, 1948, and while I was at university, it was still illegal to be gay and actually have gay sex. You could go to prison. The law changed halfway through my time there. But before then, people were terrified to be anything other than totally straight, otherwise you could be blackmailed or you could find yourself in terrible trouble. So the law changed, and nothing actually happened. The behavior of many years was still there—that basically people did not approve of people being gay. They thought they were weak. They thought they were unreliable. They thought they were people that really shouldn’t be part of a business world, an academic world, a commercial world. So everyone pretended to be straight, and, indeed, so did I.

So, in the closet …

I was, you know, the son of an Auschwitz survivor. She told me two important things: One is, never tell anyone a secret, because they’ll surely

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.