Thursday, October 29, 2009

A MUST READ: THE INVISIBLE MONSTER


On his excellent blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr, my good friend Don Charles has just written a two-part post entitled, The Invisible Monster that deals with discrimination against LGBT people in the work place; he uses some of his own experiences in his discussion

Two excerpts from his two-part post read as follows, and I strongly urge you to read both parts of his excellent post in their entirety:

If you're a perceptibly homosexual or transsexual person working in a heterosexist environment, it's best that you police your sense of humor. If you don’t, someone else will! Office humor is notoriously raunchy, but you must be extremely careful of what you say in jest. Any joke or humorous comment with even a hint of sexual connotation can and surely will be used against you. Remember what the heterosexist mentality dictates: LGBT folk should be viewed as purely sexual beings who can't help but act out inappropriately. Their uncontrollably prurient impulses must be kept in check!....

The worst thing about heterosexism on the job is that it's so damn hard to prove! Bigoted managers and administrators are smart enough not to call you a "tranny" or a "faggot" or a "dyke" to your face. Although you strongly suspect the motive behind what’s going on, you're hard-pressed to affix a label to the kind of harassment you're enduring. There's nothing concrete you can point to that screams "I hate Gay people" or “I hate transfolk” in such a way that an EEOC investigator could understand it....


What is particularly sinister about the kind of job discrimination to which Don Charles refers is what Sociologists call "Moral Alchemy." That is, "in-group virtues" are made by xenophobes to be "out-group vices" when discounted members of a minority group engage in the very same behavior that is strongly approved when a member of the dominant group engages in that behavior .

So, for example, if a Straight person seeks to better him/herself on the job, he/she is viewed as "a valuable employee." If a Gay person seeks to better him/herself on the job, he/she might well be viewed as a mere sycophant who is trying to be a rate buster who is trying to make other people look bad.

In other words, what is viewed as being a positive when a member of the dominant group does something, is frequently viewed as a negative when a discounted member of a minority group does the very same thing.

Moreover, there is discrimination visited upon discounted minority group members that are not easy to classify as "discrimination," save when it is members of that minority group that are uniquely treated in a discriminatory manner! And, particularly in a large organization, that proof is very hard to ascertain.

Don Charles concludes his post by asking: "Do you have a personal story of heterosexism and/or transphobia on the job? Please share it with me in my comments section."

I strongly urge you to take him up on his offer in the comments section of his two-part post, The Invisible Monster.

Your comments would help so many other people struggling with discrimination in the work place!
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2 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

You've heard me speak in the past of Charlene Cothran, editor of the formerly Gay-affirming, now "ex-Gay" affirming Venus Magazine. I published several op-eds in Venus. The final op-ed I sent her was an expose of discrimination I and others suffered at the Social Security Administration (referred to in "The Invisible Monster"). Charlene refused to publish it. That was in the late 1990s, and I think that's how long she's been struggling with self-hatred.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: It's very important that LGBT people, with or without self-hatred, publicize in every venue possible the acts of discrimination, or even perceived discrimination, visited upon them and upon other LGBT people whom they know. It's only in this way that the depth of homophobia and its sinister psychological and economic vulnerabilities are able to see the light of day; from which others can profit. Best wishes, Jerry.