Diversity Guides

Brian McNaught's Gay & Transgender Issues in the Workplace Blog

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LGBT Seniors in the Workplace

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

When we think about the issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and gender variant (transgender) people in the workplace, we work with the assumption that there is a war for talent in the workplace that somewhat evens the playing field. In theory, companies can’t afford to lose the best and brightest workers because their workplace is unwelcoming. To attract and retain highly-qualified people, and to maintain a competitive edge, most companies seek to create conditions in which the diversity of their workforce is celebrated and fully tapped. That should mean that older lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are seen as having the potential to be among the company’s best and brightest employees, increasing the odds of profitability. Read more…

No Money, No Work, and You’re Old

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The dream is recurring. I’m in a panic because I don’t have a job, and I question if I’ve ever worked. I’m sure that I’m too old to find meaningful employment, but I need money. I eventually become conscious that I’m dreaming, and I remind myself that I’ve had a personally rewarding career, and that I don’t need to work.

Perhaps the dream is prompted by my struggle with the idea of retirement, or having been fired for being gay at age 26, or almost always working for myself, or maybe it’s because it took many years before my father and mother accepted that educating others on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues was a real job. It’s a bad dream that takes me a while to shake.

Yet, for many people my age and younger, there is no waking from the bad dream, and there is no shaking off the emotional toll it takes. Read more…

Living in Shock or Surprise

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

As I remember the story, Noah Webster was caught by his wife making love to the maid. “I’m surprised,” she said angrily. “No,” he replied, being a well-known stickler for definitions, “I’m surprised by your entry. You’re shocked by my behavior.”

To be surprised is to be startled, or taken unaware. To be shocked involves judgment.

The first time I saw a bearded man in a dress was 40 years ago. There were four of them in what was called “Skag Drag” at the time. I was speaking on gay issues at the University of Michigan, and they walked in dramatically, and sat on the floor in front of me. I was startled by their entry, and I was shocked by their appearance. I had never seen hairy drag queens before, so it took a little while for me to sort through my thoughts on their gender expression.

A handsome, young, bearded man just won a major European singing competition. I was surprised that he won, because of what he wore, but not shocked by his appearance. He sang in a dress. Read more…

Can You Spend Too Much Time on Facebook?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

“You spend too much time on Facebook,” Ray said the other night from his side of the bed.

“No more than you do on Huffington Post,” I replied. “And, I end up reading the same things you do because of the links people provide.”

Like almost every person I know, regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or spiritual beliefs, my life has been dramatically impacted by the Internet. Read more…

Sometimes I Just Sits

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

It isn’t easy, but it’s very satisfying, to change from a human doing to a human being. There haven’t been many moments in my past life when I was a human being, but I remember them clearly. Once, as a young teenager, I lay in a hammock at my grandparents’ cottage on Pleasant Lake in New Hampshire, and I watched the sun dance off the leaves and needles of the trees above me. I wasn’t thinking about doing anything then, nor did I think about what I should be doing when I sat on rocks in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and watched the ocean water crash below me, creating swirls of foam. I lost all sense of time. But that didn’t happen very often.

In the past, I’ve prided myself on how many tasks I could take on in a day. For example, I would write a column, do the laundry, and decorate the house for the holidays. Friends and colleagues were initially shocked at how productive I was, and then it became expected. I was a multi-tasker who could be counted on to deliver what was requested, not just on time, but in perfect order. I was an excellent human doer. But I was not very good at the “being” part of the human experience. Smoking pot or drinking Chardonnay were the only things that interrupted the drum beat in my head; I eventually had to give those up because they were causing more problems than solutions.

Now I am getting very good at just being. Read more…

The Value of Your Signature

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The woman in front of me signed her name on the credit card check-out machine with three quick slashes, like the Zorro of my youth. Perhaps her name is Zorro, but I’d never find her in a phonebook based on her signature.

I, on the other hand, carefully write each letter of my name in the best penmanship possible, as if Sr. Digna were looking over my shoulder. I actually get frustrated when the machine doesn’t display all of my cursive writing. You’d have no trouble knowing who I am by the way I write my name. Or would you?

Many years ago, Lily Tomlin gave Ray and me a signed poster for the movie The Late Show. Her autograph is really big and loopy, written in Magic Marker. The poster was a thank you gift, and we hung it in our home with great pride. There is no mistaking whose signature it is. But what does it tell us about Lily?

Over the last four decades, Ray and I have entertained a lot of early leaders of the Gay Civil Rights Movement. We asked these guests if they would also sign the movie poster so that we might create a record of historic significance. We recently donated the poster to the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Ft. Lauderdale. Almost all of the signatures that can still be seen are in easily read script. But what do the signatures really say?

Unlike our fingerprint, which is an un-chosen, distinguishing feature about each of us, our signature is a chosen representation of ourselves. Read more…

Who Is Not Holding Hands?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

We customarily hold hands with guests before starting dinner. Not long ago, one of the stars of the Miami Dolphins held hands with his younger brother, also well-known for the sport, and with Ray. I held hands with the younger brother, and with a gay man to my left, who owns a local gay guesthouse. My gay friend held the hand of his spouse, who also held Ray’s hand. Holding hands and being quiet before a meal allows us to focus on the moment, with awareness of what we have, and of those not at our table who are hungry, lonely, and frightened.

When I finished sharing my thoughts about our bounty, the need for gratitude, and about those who have so much less, the football celebrity said, “If you had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here with you guys, I would have told you that you were crazy.” Read more…

What Do You Mean?

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry said he will be sending U.S. “experts” on homosexuality to persuade Uganda President Yoweri Museveni that the horrific anti-gay bill he signed is based on faulty science. There are many of us in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sexuality education who wonder what will be said and by whom. It’s essential that the experts’ presentation be understandable and relevant to the African, Evangelical Christian. Read more…

Planning for Our Final Years

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Planning for your final years is a fascinating experience when there’s no imminent threat of death. I find myself thinking more and more about it.

People in their 80s might laugh at me, feeling that at age 66 I’m still very young. And maybe I do have 20 years ahead of me to prepare for death. But I nevertheless spend an increasing amount of time imagining what it will feel like to say “good-bye” to Ray, or to have him do the same to me. Read more…

Is the Lady in the Muscle Car a Good Lawyer?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

It fascinates me how many kinds and colors of cars I see on the road today. I don’t know their makes and models unless I get close enough to see the names or logos on the back. But, I’m taken with the variety of bodies.

If you imagine all of those different cars pulling into a parking lot, and all of the drivers exiting to a building, you’d never know who went with what car body, and you wouldn’t judge the drivers’ skills at lawyering, accounting, or information technology by the model or color of the cars they drove. And yet, we often make decisions about a person’s skills by looking at the design and the color of the body they move around in. Read more…