Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'm Listening, Too

Yesterday was the GLBT meeting at work. It went well, overwhelmingly so, and I am still glowing with pride at having been involved with such a cool group of people, and all of us making even tiny little steps forward. But it was very intense and I'm exhausted. I volunteered to lead the meeting because I didn't think it was fair to ask a gay person to do it at a company that would have fired you for being gay for the last 200 years, and now, and only because of a wonderful merger, has open arms. Suspicious at best.

But it went great, couldn't have gone better. It started a lot of conversations, which was exactly what I was hoping for. (It was what I was hoping for, assholes.) Everyone, mostly people who didn't attend the meeting, in their own awkward ways, wanted to talk about GLBT issues. So we did. We did all afternoon. Very positive. Senior managers asked me if the meeting meant we would be offering benefits for partners, and I let them know we started doing that already. It's strange - management said multiple times how radical this is (I think trying to temper my enthusiasm or manage my expectations), and even an older employee said he's never worked for a company in Upstate that makes a space for GLBT employees. I guess I'm not in Portland anymore, and I'll have to redefine success or progress.

Afterwards I had to leave the office for a while to just be alone. I was just feeling overwhelmed with shame that all people aren't able to feel safe and free at work and in life. And I felt angry and helpless knowing that some people don't even realize that there are folks (like in the cube beside them) that aren't able to feel safe and free being themselves. Baby steps, right? It all helps. We're going in the right direction, I hope.

And then I came home last night and saw this. Outrageous. Another Christian public servant for hate. I've already written my letter. I guess it's a long, long road.


  1. I'm so proud of you for leading this meeting! And yes, it does make a difference when a straight person heads up a meeting like this. It sends a message that these are issues everyone should be concerned about--not just gay people.

  2. I can remember attending a compulsory 'Diversity Awareness' seminar at my company in 2002 where sexuality wasn't mentioned. I went straight (ha ha) from that to a status meeting where a Senior Partner made a joke against 'the gays'. During my 5 years off work I heard that my company had been voted one of the best places for LGBT employees to work. On my first day back I was told that something was 'really gay' and regaled with a story of how some queer had come on to someone in a hotel bar... THANK YOU for doing your bit. I'm going to have to start challenging people when I feel a bit more established.

  3. This is what I wrote over at Jestertunes after he posted that video...

    "Bitch, you can rationalize your disgusting intolerance any way you like... it doesn't change the fact that you're a homophobic piece of crap that has no business being a State Legislator who is supposed to be representing ALL their constituates equally."

    Tragic, really. :-(

  4. I'm proud of what you're doing, too, as always. It's such an important thing for people to feel safe and accepted in the workplace, where they spend the majority of their day.

    I've been trying to compose an e-mail to that yahoo since I first heard that the other day. You know, I don't usually have any problem writing outraged letters. For some reason, I can't get this one out. Maybe I'm just tired ... I feel like there
    s nothing left to say and it won't make a difference anyway. :(

  5. I share both Michael and Matt's sentiments. By chairing these types of meetings you are showing everyone what acceptance looks like. Me included.
    You are an example to those people who don't understand because of their ignorance and also to those people that choose not to because they are bigoted.
    My pleading and demanding to be treated equally will only get me so far. I need more of my 'straight' friends to say "enough is enough" with me. You may not have said these exact words but to me, your actions show you have. Thank you mi amigo and a big hug to you. xo

  6. i concur with all of the kudos. nicely done.

    i've never felt comfortable being out at work. i've always worked in very small companies and felt that it would place too much strain on me and everyone i worked with. but then i had to deal quietly with all of the homophobic comments.

    it's amazing to me that it's 2008 and we still have to deal with all of the intolerance of all kinds. when does it end?

    i also second matt's frustration about wanting to write a letter to the oklahoma yahoo, but feeling that it was pretty pointless.

  7. Thought you'd like to know that Ellen tried to leave a voicemail for Sally Kerns on the show today, but her voicemailbox was full (surprise). So she just made a statement to her on the show instead... I'm sure you'll be able to find it on YouTube..

  8. I too like knowing Ellen took this on. As for being out at work, I try to be anywhere i go, except sometimes, it just doesn't work out...for my own safety.