Diversity Guides

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

Archive for October, 2010

Enabling Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Employees to Feel Safe & Valued

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

A few years ago, my spouse Ray was a managing director of global equity sales for Lehman Brothers. To the surprise and great regret of his firm, he took an early retirement because he felt tolerated there as a gay person, not accepted. As one of the first gay people out of the closet on Wall Street, he felt alone in coping with the silence he experienced when he brought up my name with fellow employees, and with the lack of questions he received from them about our weekend or holiday plans. His colleagues were not hostile to him. But their ignorance-based anxiety about homosexuality made it hard for them to engage Ray socially. Some may have feared using the wrong words. Others may have worried about wandering into a discussion for which they were ill prepared. The result of their anxiety was emotional exhaustion for Ray, and with his departure, a major financial loss for the company. Not only did Lehman forfeit the talent, years of experience, and good relationships with clients that Ray represented, but they also lost the most effective tool they had in marketing to the gay community. Read more…

The Best Way to Put Out a Fire Is Not to Start It

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Without all of the facts, it is difficult to understand what the City of San Diego was thinking when it required firefighters to participate in the 2007 Gay Pride Parade. Four Catholic firefighters objected, saying that they experienced sexual harassment during the event, making their workplace feel hostile. The California Court of Appeals has concurred.

Employees, whether in the public or private sector, and whether straight or gay, should not be forced to participate in a city’s gay pride parade, unless it is their job. Police officers, for instance, line the routes of civil rights marches and of those for Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Although the City of San Diego, and others who seek to create public support of gay and transgender rights, had the best of intentions, their requirement of participation started a fire that the firefighters shouldn’t have been required to put out. Although the firefighters’ claims of headaches and irritable bowel syndrome as a result of seeing half-naked gay men simulate sex seems silly to me, they nonetheless shouldn’t have been in the parade unless they were working to providing public safety. Read more…

I Can’t See Myself on your Mantel

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

It became common knowledge among my siblings as we grew older that the photos we saw of ourselves on our grandmother’s living room mantel really hadn’t been there all year. We watched our mother do the same with her grandchildren, pull photos out of drawers and place them prominently for family visits.

Corporations that picture us in ads in gay periodicals or in gay event programs are doing the same. They want us to feel special and welcome during our brief visit. At the recent Out and Equal conference in Los Angeles, several major companies had photos in their ads of two women with their child, two men getting married, two men with their children, and two women with their heads romantically touching. And while those great ads were much more meaningful to me than the ones that celebrated diversity with colored balls or scrabble pieces, I knew that once I left the conference, I wouldn’t see my picture again until I came back next year or opened a gay magazine. Read more…

Is Moscow’s Mayor Gay?

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Is it absurd to suggest that Yuri Luzhkov, the recently deposed Mayor of Moscow, is possibly a closeted homosexual? He called the planned gay parade there "satanic," and has blocked every effort of gay people to gather in pride. Why is he so vocal on the issue, and what damage have his harangues had on the physical and emotional well-being of young gay people living there?

What about Andrew Shirvell, the assistant Attorney General of Michigan, who calls gay people "sick freaks," and is so obsessed with making life miserable for the openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan that he has spent six months writing a blog about him? What are the chances that he, like so many other homophobic bullies, is actually a closeted homosexual who hates his attraction to other men, including the student body president?

Bishop Eddie Long is the anti-gay black preacher with a 25,000 member congregation, and he believes that "greed is good." The odds are very high that he is a closeted homosexual. He’s been charged by four young men recently with sexual assault. An anti-gay bully and a closeted homosexual—in my experience, there seems to be a pattern. Read more…