Diversity Guides

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

Archive for March, 2013

A Boy in Tokyo Understands

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

The 12-year-old boy in Tokyo asked, "Mommy, why do some Christian people believe that being gay is wrong, and it’s okay to discriminate against them?" The only answer she could think of was, "Because they are stupid and ignorant, and enjoy condemning people who do not fit their narrow definition of ‘right’." But, she knew that answer was as bigoted a response as that of some fundamentalist Christians to gay people, and she didn’t feel it was the best way for him to reply to his Christian cousin who questioned her son’s support of gay marriage.

Having heard me speak to her colleagues about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workplace issues, the mom e-mailed me and asked for the best response to her son’s question. I complimented her mothering skills, and asked her to thank her son for being such a great ally. I would have preferred to answer his question by saying, "Don’t ever allow religious people, or anyone else, to intimidate you as you find your life’s truths." Instead, the response I suggested she give to his question was, "The Christian people who believe that being gay is wrong interpret the Bible differently from many other religious people. In lots of places in the world, the majority of Christians are very supportive of gay people. Some people quote the Bible to support their fears and biases."

She replied that she and her son were very glad to receive the response. Read more…

Laying an Egg in Another’s Nest

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

To help prepare us for a planned summer on Tupper Lake, our friend Susan sent us the book Adirondack Nature Notes. The book is organized by the months of the year. In the section on June, I was introduced to the cowbird. I didn’t like what I read.

There is something inherently unjust about the behavior of the cowbird. It reminds me of people who won’t take responsibility for their actions. Ray thinks I’m being too hard on the cowbirds because they’re only following their instincts. Unlike humans, he says, they have to follow their nature with no awareness of choice. Maybe.

Though they are capable of building their own nests, and nurturing their own offspring, cowbirds instead sneak into the nests of other birds and place their egg among those there. Often, they will throw out an existing egg to make room for their own. They do this up to 36 times a season.

Sometimes, the bird whose nest was invaded will destroy the foreign egg, and sometimes it will raise it as its own. If a cowbird sees its egg destroyed, it will often destroy those of the other bird. The cowbird chick demands more food than the other chicks in the nest, and frequently bullies them into starvation. If the cowbird chick survives, it doesn’t take on the characteristics of its foster parents when mature, but rather mimics its mother’s practice of forcing other birds to care for its offspring.

The description of the cowbird’s behavior pushes my buttons. "It isn’t fair," I think. But, is it wrong to be angry at cowbirds if they allegedly can’t help being irresponsible? If so, what about being angry at people who won’t take responsibility for the eggs they lay? Is it in their nature to be selfish? Or do they have choices? Read more…

Killing the Angels

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

When young Matthew Shepard was tied to a split-rail fence in Laramie, Wyoming, and bludgeoned to death with a gun, some gay people, myself included, referred to it as a "crucifixion." A sacred spirit, or an angel if you will, had been murdered by blind bullies who believed him to be a revolting deviant worthy of destruction. I have long believed that the world’s wise, nurturing, generous, thoughtful, loving, spiritual souls are being senselessly hunted down and destroyed by fearful, ignorant people, like those from Sodom who surrounded the home of Lot with the intention of raping and killing the angels.

Angels are an archetype, a universally accepted symbol of particular qualities or roles. Are gay people truly sacred spirits, or nature’s angels? Read more…