Diversity Guides

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

Archive for March, 2012

Water Please, No Ice

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Ray and I are on the wagon. He’s been sober for 25 years. I quit drinking a few years later. There are a lot of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people who are clean and sober, but we’re invisible, and when we come to the celebrations of our friends, we are often handed a glass of champagne for a toast. Just as it is assumed that a person is straight unless he or she says otherwise, it is assumed that people drink alcohol unless they say otherwise. We live in a world that esteems booze, and questions the normalcy of those who don’t.

On cruise ships, gay people gather the first night at a publicized meeting for the "Friends of Dorothy," a reference to Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz. She wasn’t gay, but she believed in a place where dreams really do come true. Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts meet as "Friends of Bill," a reference to the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. On a straight cruise, there are a lot of gay people who have to decide which meeting to go to. It’s a lot easier to decide if you’re on a gay cruise, but most recovering alcoholics I know avoid gay cruises, where the captain of the ship is the designated driver.

I feel that people who don’t drink make most drinking people as uncomfortable as do atheists among theists. In the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, this can make life particularly difficult, especially if you are single. Read more…

The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Four gay men in their forties and sixties, from the United States and France, sang in our living room with Kermit the Frog, "Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me."

Jean-Marc and Patrice had watched the Muppets as children 30 years ago in eastern and southern France. As they sat with Ray and me, with bowls of homemade popcorn, they excitedly named the characters as they appeared in the film, The Muppets: Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal, and Swedish Chef. Ray and I were delighted to share that experience, which transcended language and culture.

Patrice, being a song and dance man, knew all of the lyrics to Kermit’s closing song: "I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it. There’s something that I’m supposed to be. Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me."

That morning, Patrice was horrified to learn that a gunman had killed Jewish children near the town in which he had watched Sesame Street. He had been on the telephone with his mother and sister who still live in the area. At the same time, I received a request for help from a friend who had been asked to testify against a coach who openly harassed gay athletes and students. Immediately after watching the film, I got another e-mail regarding a gay man who was being discriminated against at work because he made others feel "uncomfortable."

Where is the disconnect between children across the world singing The Rainbow Connection, but not seeing that the black, Jewish, gay, Latino, and transgender people who upset them are just Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal, the Swedish Chef, Kermit, and Miss Piggy, all hoping to find in life what they’re supposed to be? Read more…

Vanity or Freedom?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Yesterday, I met a gay superstar. He’s a young, very handsome, muscled, stage and cable television entertainer and educator on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. He stopped by the Stonewall Museum booth at Pride Fest, and gave me his card. He had no awareness of my work, nor that that I was just like him 37 years ago, although much-less muscled. When I told him, it didn’t seem to register.

"The messenger is the message," I said quickly, as he eyed other people he felt drawn to see. "Take good care of yourself, and don’t feel you always have to be ‘on.’ Tell your story. And be ready to let go." And then he was gone. Read more…

Menacing Closeted Gay People

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Please raise your hand if you think that Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student accused of driving his gay roommate to suicide, is a closeted homosexual. To me, he’s a classic example of men who cover their preoccupation with their own homosexuality by condemning it in others.

"Keep the gays away," he wrote in an e-mail; translated, that means, "Keep homosexuality away from me, because if my parents find out they’ll hate me." Train your web cam on your roommate’s sex life in order to see how many of your friends are disgusted with what you truly want to have in your own life. Read more…