Diversity Guides

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

Archive for February, 2012

Sick of Stereotypes

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Gratefully, all of the award programs are over. Our American royalty has gone back to their very private homes. Many of them are secure in their status as stars. They are the beautiful people whose money and notoriety give them privileges equal to those of the Old World’s former royal families. Like the commoners of days long past, some of us today line the streets to see our royalty arrive at, and depart from, their exclusive gatherings, and we hope they will stop for a moment to talk to us.

I would not have been a good commoner in the Old World where others were considered gods. While I admit that I would get excited if a movie or television personality sat next to me on an airplane, I’m not comfortable with my interest in a person whose notoriety is more important than his or her values. Read more…

Pride or Shame? It’s a Choice.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Being proud or ashamed of ourselves is a choice. That’s true for all human beings, but here’s an unscientific test that helps us focus on the choices of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Read more…

Yard Sale of Our History

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Throughout time, the artifacts of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history have been burned in shame by shocked family members, or tossed away without knowledge of their significance. Our courageous accounts of our first awareness of our sexual and romantic feelings, our love letters and poems to the intimate occupants of our hearts, and the personal objects we used or collected, have been thrown into the trash or buried in the dumps. This cultural cleansing of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of our ancestors is a tragedy. Only a small handful of the stories of our family’s lives have survived, and they must be treasured and guarded vigilantly. Read more…

The Bible in Paprika Is No Prize

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Kids my age in the late 1950s used to look forward to the prize in the box of Cracker Jacks. We dug through the caramelized popcorn to find it. The prize wasn’t worth more than a penny, but it was fun to find.

Yesterday, I opened up a bottle of Hungarian paprika to make goulash for a large group of friends, and found inside a piece of "edible potato starch paper" with two biblical citations. I looked up the Old and New Testament passages to see if they were Right Wing Christian anti-gay rhetoric, but they were harmless references. Nevertheless, the citations were no prize, and they didn’t belong in a bottle of paprika.

I called the owner of the spice store, with whom I had just spent a pleasant half hour learning about his new enterprise. I took his business card because I wanted to recommend him to friends who are resurrecting a town in the Adirondacks, and who are looking for quality goods to be sold there.

"I found a biblical quote in my paprika," I said. "Do you have those pieces of paper in every spice and herb bottle?"

When he answered yes, I told him that I didn’t believe in mixing commerce and religion, and that I couldn’t recommend him or his product to others. I was particularly grieved that there was no warning that I was going to be proselytized. Read more…

My Former Boss was a Lion

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Barney Frank and I had the same boss, and the lion just died. His name was Kevin White, the legendary Mayor of Boston in the late, turbulent 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. He was the most important city advocate for gay people in the country when I worked for him from 1982 to 1984.

Boston wasn’t Narnia, but the administration worked to make it as close to Camelot as you got in the period of national racial turmoil and anti-war anger, and the Mayor was the city’s visionary, ruling lion. Kevin White pried open the doors of white Irish domination of "the Hub" and brought into government the best and brightest minds of all races, genders, faiths, and orientations. One of his protégés was Barney Frank, whom the Mayor talked out of an academic career and into one of political public service. The people who surrounded the Mayor, such as Frank, and my brother Tom, were referred to as "goo-goos" for "good government" men and women. Read more…