Diversity Guides

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

Archive for January, 2012

There are No Cooties in the Garden of Eden

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

The Garden of Eden is not a mythological place like heaven and hell. It is located in our own zip codes, on our own streets, in our own homes. But there are no cooties allowed in the Garden of Eden, nor shame. If you think you have cooties, or you are ashamed of who and what you are, you’ll never find it no matter how hard you search.

The Garden of Eden is bliss, or, if you prefer, great happiness. It is a moveable feast that travels with you to school, work, and recreation. It is there when people love you and when they hate you. It is there when you are considered a failure and when you are considered a success. You can feel it in the White House and in jail. But you can’t feel it if you have cooties, or are ashamed of who you are.

Children tell each other that they have cooties, with the intention of causing shame. But children first learn of cooties at home. Cooties are things that other people find disgusting. A guest at lunch yesterday told us that because she had polio as a child, her mother told her, "God gave me five normal children. What happened to you?" Polio is cooties. If you believe you have cooties, you feel shame. If you feel shame, you can never experience bliss. If you can’t experience bliss, you can’t be in the Garden of Eden. Read more…

“Get Back Aboard! Damn It!”

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Everything was going great until I flipped the bird.

It felt like a joyful morning. I had hugged Fannie, the woman who manages the flowers in the grocery store, and I had led the produce personnel in a round of "Happy Birthday" for Emmanuel, their manager. When I wished him "Happy Martin Luther King Day," he responded, "And it’s my birthday." How could I let that pass?

Then, as I pulled out of the parking lot, a guy on the sidewalk was yelling at the top of his lungs to someone I couldn’t see, "You faggot!"

"Hey," I yelled in a disapproving voice from the car.

"Mind your own business," he angrily yelled back. "I’m not talking to you."

"I don’t like that word," I replied in an attempt to have him understand.

"I’m a Vietnam vet and I can say anything I want," he screamed. "Why don’t you come out here and try to make me shut up, faggot."

The light changed. It was time to move on, and I chose not to let it pass. I flipped him the bird. Read more…

Tonto & the Lone Ranger in the Men’s Room

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

My friends waited outside the movie theater for me as I finished washing my hands in the men’s restroom. As I was leaving, I watched an older man back up from the urinal and turn toward the sink. His knees didn’t work well and he was struggling for balance. I was going to step in and offer help until I noted another older man standing by watching his friend with loving concern. I lingered and watched them stand side by said in front of the mirror.

"Now that’s a wonderful look of love I see," I said to them, and to the other men in the restroom.

"It reflects 56 years of being together," the more physically able of the two responded with a big grin.

"Good for you," I replied. "Ray and I are just babies at 35 years."

"Oh, no," he said. "You understand." Read more…

When We Assume We’re Wanted

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

As American lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations think about expanding their services beyond U.S. borders, it’s really important to spend time asking if our services are wanted. Sometimes, even when we think we’re doing a good thing, other people don’t want or appreciate our help. Read more…