Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of visible body piercings (VBP) in explaining the extent of self-reported workplace sexual orientation discrimination. Design/methodology/approach – Using the 2002 wave of the UK Gay Mens’ Sex Survey, OLS and logit equations are estimated to analyse the extent of self-reported denial of job opportunities. Findings – The possession of visible body piercings is shown to increase the level of discriminatory activity. There is evidence that tongue piercings are the major contributory type of body decoration. The overall effect is seemingly ameliorated for those gay men who engage in more extensive concealment effort with regard to their sexual orientation. Research limitations/implications – The sample is to some extent self-selecting, which may affect the results. Further studies using alternative methodologies would be required to explore this issue. Practical implications – This paper sheds light on the importance, or otherwise, of presumed visual clues such as body piercing in triggering discriminatory behaviour towards gay men. Originality/value – This is the first study to examine the self-reported experience of post-entry discrimination by gay men using a major national survey comprising over 15,000 observations.