22 April 2006


The Alternative Universe

Our good buddy TRJ writes (here):
[...] My boss made a comment today at lunch that really got to me. Someone asked me if I wanted some barbecue sauce and I said no thanks. Then my boss, the department head, said, "Well I guess there isn't a good sauce for people of an alternative lifestyle." The comment just blew me away. [...]
There used to be a radio ad that ran on WFNX in Boston for the Boston Phoenix's personal ads. (The Phoenix is the weekly "alternative" paper: Tabloid layout, leftist sensibility. I'm sure Orlando has one, but I don't know the name.)

"Are you living an alternative lifestyle? Would you like to be?", is how the ad started out. It just helped me put the phrase "alternative lifestyle" into what I think its proper place is: A catch phrase more appropriate for advertising than for meaningful discussion.

Anyway, I don't like hearing those kinds of comments, but it's not easy for most of us to empower ourselves in the short run to come back with snappy, "Don't people of an alternative lifestyle have the same rights to sauces as everyone else?" or "Equal sauces not special sauces" or...

Or, "What the fuck are you talking about? If you've got something to say about my supposed 'alternative lifestyle' then get it off your fucking chest and stop it with the innuendo and looking down your nose from some kind of straight person's privileged domain. C'mon. Out with it. You got a problem with it, with me, then let's hear it."

Yeah yeah. Easier imagined than done, much easier, because of habits and manners and sensitivity to everyone else at the table, because of the supervisor-supervisee power relationship, and because there's no equal protection for LGBT people under federal or Florida law. (Actually, since the employer probably has some kind of non-discrimination against LGB people policy, it might be appropriate at some point to request a meeting with an HR person and the boss to review the policies.)

But law or policy or not, this much remains true: There is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay. Nothing. Not a thing. Absolutely nothing.

It is not a sin. It is not a crime. It is simply a difference from the overwhelming majority that fate/the universe/the Creator has thrown into the mix for all of us to deal with. And it offers all of us, gay or straight, a chance to find out about our own character, whether it's some fraction of straight people indulging what might actually be some form of innate disgust and acting like an asshole about gay people -- or even inflicting bodily harm -- or some fraction of gay people dealing responsibly with the challenges that being what might be as little as 2% of the population and different in the one area that squicks almost everyone (even as we all do it) -- sex -- brings.

Remember, though, you don't have to be out to speak out. And just because someone's giving you a paycheck, they don't get to tell you what your politics should be, or that you shouldn't practice yours in the workplace when they practice theirs, both subtly and overtly, day in and day out. Gay or not, all of us, to the degree that we assert them, retain each and every one of our human rights. One sure way to lose them is to fail to assert them.

Of course asserting them in that kind of environment entails risk. What reward -- and if you ask me, living in a world where people's rights are respected is vastly more rewarding than one where assholes get to walk all over everyone else -- doesn't?

"Lifestyle", my ass.

Stupid chickenshit word for a defineable reality.

Also, it implies choice - a belief that only a stupid, chickenshit person would adhere to.
I agree. I wish I had the guts to tell that SOB that he could learn a lot from us younger people. He's set in his ways and I see him as an untouchable, so that is probably just me.....
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