Diversity Guides

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

Archive for April, 2014

Sometimes I Just Sits

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

It isn’t easy, but it’s very satisfying, to change from a human doing to a human being. There haven’t been many moments in my past life when I was a human being, but I remember them clearly. Once, as a young teenager, I lay in a hammock at my grandparents’ cottage on Pleasant Lake in New Hampshire, and I watched the sun dance off the leaves and needles of the trees above me. I wasn’t thinking about doing anything then, nor did I think about what I should be doing when I sat on rocks in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and watched the ocean water crash below me, creating swirls of foam. I lost all sense of time. But that didn’t happen very often.

In the past, I’ve prided myself on how many tasks I could take on in a day. For example, I would write a column, do the laundry, and decorate the house for the holidays. Friends and colleagues were initially shocked at how productive I was, and then it became expected. I was a multi-tasker who could be counted on to deliver what was requested, not just on time, but in perfect order. I was an excellent human doer. But I was not very good at the “being” part of the human experience. Smoking pot or drinking Chardonnay were the only things that interrupted the drum beat in my head; I eventually had to give those up because they were causing more problems than solutions.

Now I am getting very good at just being. Read more…

The Value of Your Signature

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The woman in front of me signed her name on the credit card check-out machine with three quick slashes, like the Zorro of my youth. Perhaps her name is Zorro, but I’d never find her in a phonebook based on her signature.

I, on the other hand, carefully write each letter of my name in the best penmanship possible, as if Sr. Digna were looking over my shoulder. I actually get frustrated when the machine doesn’t display all of my cursive writing. You’d have no trouble knowing who I am by the way I write my name. Or would you?

Many years ago, Lily Tomlin gave Ray and me a signed poster for the movie The Late Show. Her autograph is really big and loopy, written in Magic Marker. The poster was a thank you gift, and we hung it in our home with great pride. There is no mistaking whose signature it is. But what does it tell us about Lily?

Over the last four decades, Ray and I have entertained a lot of early leaders of the Gay Civil Rights Movement. We asked these guests if they would also sign the movie poster so that we might create a record of historic significance. We recently donated the poster to the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Ft. Lauderdale. Almost all of the signatures that can still be seen are in easily read script. But what do the signatures really say?

Unlike our fingerprint, which is an un-chosen, distinguishing feature about each of us, our signature is a chosen representation of ourselves. Read more…

Who Is Not Holding Hands?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

We customarily hold hands with guests before starting dinner. Not long ago, one of the stars of the Miami Dolphins held hands with his younger brother, also well-known for the sport, and with Ray. I held hands with the younger brother, and with a gay man to my left, who owns a local gay guesthouse. My gay friend held the hand of his spouse, who also held Ray’s hand. Holding hands and being quiet before a meal allows us to focus on the moment, with awareness of what we have, and of those not at our table who are hungry, lonely, and frightened.

When I finished sharing my thoughts about our bounty, the need for gratitude, and about those who have so much less, the football celebrity said, “If you had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here with you guys, I would have told you that you were crazy.” Read more…