Dateline yesterday, MPR. Newsreader in a story about, I believe, employment law mentions that there are issues for “gay, lesbian, and transgender people”.
So I’m definitely not straight. Ask anyone who knows me. But for me to use the word “gay” to describe myself (or to be described that way) would be to assume a certain load of baggage that goes with the word. I’ve told the story before about the diversity professor who, when I mentioned my wife, took a step back, put her hand flat on her chest in a gesture that was almost but not quite a pearl-clutch, and said “I thought you were gay!” Yes, professor, I’m not straight. But that doesn’t mean that I’m gay, because gender is not a limiting factor in my attractions and potential partners.
So employment law must not have any relevance to bisexuals, right? I mean, it’s not like I have ever faced — or feared — discrimination at work because of it… except for all the years I hid it precisely because I feared formal or informal retribution. Like the time I was working as a security guard and my site partner for the evening went on a homophobic rant. Or the time, in on off-site employment management bonding retreat camp, when during the modified game of Truth Or Dare the question of same-gender sexual contact came up, and I quietly drank my beer and spent the night alone in my tent terrified that someone had picked up on my reaction and I would receive… consequences.
Now it’s reached public radio. Something that, while imperfect, at least has a history of trying, sometimes, to get it right. I would have expected this with Fox. I think that’s why I am feeling so simultaneously let down and enraged.
Comparisons with racial issues frequently go awry, but I’m going to essay it again here.
Imagine what would happen if the newsreader made a comment like this: “Employment discrimination affects all People of Color, whether they are Black, Latinx, or Asian.” Think about that one for moment. Are you noticing who has been left out?
If you didn’t, read it again.
If you did, reflect on what it really means, to simply leave out a large group of people who are significantly affected, as if they just did not exist, or were such a small minority that they were statistically insignificant.
It’s getting worse. We need to be louder, not quieter.
Go forth, and be fabulous.