Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The homosexual workplace

I am in an entirely different environment working in fashion retail. I am no longer surrounded by Latin verbs or cradle Catholics. The Real World has been a challenge with some fun thrown in with a dash of employee discounts. One of the difficult yet most interesting aspects of fashion retail is interacting with different "lifestyles."

My manager is a practicing homosexual. Until today, I could have told you that he never mentioned this to me. The men that I work with are typically artsy and well-dressed. Many of them are also, like Jim, practicing homosexuals. Most of them do not advertise this fact. Tommy, on the other hand...

Tommy started working with me about a week ago. He is a stylish fella, a pretty nice fella. His mother is Jewish and his father is Catholic, so he calls himself a "Cashew." (I found this rather clever.) The first thing I noticed about Tommy was how friendly he was while introducing himself. The second thing I noticed was how tight his pants were on his bottom. The third thing I noticed? Tommy seems to feel a need for everyone to know that he is a practicing homosexual. He interjects the fact into almost every sentence- including staff meetings.

Shift leader: We are getting a shipment Friday night-
Tommy: You know where I'll be- at the club for gay night!

Shift Leader: These new jeans are men's-
Tommy: Well, I know men.

If a straight man said anything like the above regarding women, it would be sexual harrassment. Tommy also tends to boss around, snatch coworker's customers if he finds them attractive, and interrupts constantly. My impression of Tommy is that he does not find his identity outside of being homosexual. He does not see himself as an individual human person, but merely as a part of the homosexual movement. My opinion on active homosexual lifestyles aside (rather the Church's opinion), this is not right.

Despite our differences, Tommy and I get along just fine and work together well. Maybe just by loving him and treating him with kindness, he will come to a better understanding of his primary identity as a beloved child of God.

My existence outside of the comfortable Little Catholic Bubble is collectively amusing, scary, disheartening, and pleasant. I hope I keep my identity in check, too!


Kate said...

Ok now, take those comments, say 'women' instead of 'men' and 'ladies night' instead of 'gay night', and wouldn't those comments be sexual harassment? Except, of course, were some straight male coworker to complain, he would be accused of intolerance and homophobia.

Don't get me wrong - I think you have the right approach to this. My point is just how disturbing it is when anyone defines themselves by their sexual proclivities, and how unfair to those around them.

Louise said...

It IS unfair. Many homosexuals that I have known use it so they can act/say/do things that heterosexuals cannot.

Angel Roth said...

I hear ya, shmeeze- sounds like a HANOPE you're dealing with- Homosexual, Active, No Other Personality Evident. My manager is a lesbian and that freaks me a little- although she's never flaunted it; she's a professional and doesn't make it the office's business to know about it. But honestly, the Here! Queer! Cheer! attitude is super annoying. Do they realize how silly? I vote we all don "Straight Pride" t-shirts and have a straight pride contingent in the Pro-Life March this year.

Thomas said...

the thing you have to realize is that its 95% of the peopole named "Tom" who give the rest of us a bad reputation...

I guess this means I have to wait to tell my story about how thrilled I was to find a GAP shirt at a thrift store for $3.00 that was almost identical to this awesome shirt I saw in clark's register for $149.00 dollars.

in all seriousness though, what a sad existence this guy must lead. we should keep him in our prayers...

Meghan said...

*sigh*, yeah last summer was traumatizing for me for that reason as well. Not of course because I am anything near a homophobe as you know, but because it was absolutely heartbreaking that people are so insecure they hide behind their sexual promiscuity to fill out their lives. I came to really like one of my gay co-workers and there were so many moments I caught him in repose in a dreadful kind of blank melancholy.

Anyway, I digress, but from my experience and from talking to people who have made this their mission, love and gentle friendship is the most effective statement of Christianity. They notice and appreciate it.

Brian said...

I followed a comment from Kate's blog since you mentioned Oregon, where I also happen to live.

This post was very interesting to me. I only read your first month of stuff and the most recent.

The thing I find interesting is the contrast between this post, where you call someone out for being too public with their sexuality and the post on the most recent page where you have yourself smooching your hubby.

I saw that one first and thought "hmm ... I would never put a pic up of me kissing Shawn. I guess people have different levels of privacy on that."

So, in reaction to this, please keep in mind that we are put in a strange position - if we never mention anything we are lying by ommision and acting like we are hiding something. If we talk about it all the time we are pushing it in people's faces. I agree that both are not good, but I would also like to note that the space for us for being "appropriate" is much smaller.

And I would counter the claim that such things don't happen among straight men. I just recently was meeting a new guy at work from another site who could not stop staring and women and was telling me that "it was my job" to get her info for him, with questionable comments along the way.

I interviewed with a rather uptight east coast company and in the process was told that there were great (straight) strip clubs to go to nearby (which I politely dodged).

My best friend (who is a woman) worked in a place where men frequently made comments to her, the most aggregious being "I think of you when I have sex with my wife".

My point is that some men are pigs and/or uni-dimensional.

But the higher point is that the balancing act between being closeted and in your face is a pretty narrow one. Hopefully Tommy has since grown out of a need to flaunt it...