I once had a boss tell me to stop talking about being gay. I was confused by his request. I rarely discuss being gay while at work. I had a couple of co-workers tell me that I was full of gay pride. More confusion.
It turns out in both cases my gay pride and my talking about being gay stemmed from the fact that a picture of Cheryl sits on my desk and if you ask me what I did this past weekend, I’ll answer in the plural.
There are a lot of people who claim that they “support” gay rights, but we should just shut up about being gay. To these people, a discussion that includes a mention of my wife counts as “gay talk”, but a discussion about their wife doesn’t count as “straight talk”.
This morning, I didn’t say a word to my co-workers other than a cheerful good morning. Every single one of them mentioned either their spouse or their children. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Now, my current co-workers are neither the boss nor the co-workers I mentioned earlier.
I’m mentioning them to make a point – people can’t get through a day at work without mentioning their private lives.
In 29 states, you can be fired for being gay. Think about that – a productive worker can lose their job for being gay. There are people who say big deal. Then, don’t mention you’re gay. Or, I’ve heard the argument that a business owner should have the right to not hire someone. Well, it works both ways: if you can be fired for being gay, you van be fired for being straight.
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) is proposing a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for the workplace, since it worked so well for the military. And, that brings me back to my original premise: We all discuss our personal lives at work and we shouldn’t have to hide who we are.
We need to end workplace discrimination. We need to pass ENDA, so that you can’t be fired in any state.
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