….has to be my least favorite sentence out of an LGBTQ ally’s mouth. Generally it means they are experiencing a state of disbelief brought on by discovering there continue to be instances of discrimination. Some people follow that up with, “but it can’t be because you are gay!” In the back of my head I hum “haters gonna hate, hate, hate” but, “Yes my friend, in this time of enlightenment, we fail at human rights.” If they stop at the “but this is 2015” line I usually nod at them knowingly. After all, I have muttered, “but this is the 21st century,” under my breath each time someone exclaims, “I can Google that?!” Yes, you can Google that and yes, bigotry is still alive and well. Please Google “Ferguson police” or “People of color over-representation in prisons” or something else equally outraging for any human rights activist.
As I sip my cup of privelege, Starbucks hazelnut latte, I realize that the second sentence, “it can’t be because you are gay,” is the upsetting sentence. Yes, until I revealed my interest in LGBTQ activism & clarified their language around dress code that might impact my gender non-conformity, things were going well. My bow tie was endearing. My skills as an educator, researcher, and technologist had evoked an actual squeal of glee from one interviewer. Suggestions I made for meeting the needs of diverse clients went over extremely well. That I might show up to the company picnic with a boyfriend while wearing a lavender frock – that freaked them out. (To be honest, the lavender frock scares me a little – I am more of a pant suit wearing non-conformist & only own one skirt that I wear with cargo pants). So yes, it was about my identity as a queer individual. If they had checked my social media they would have realized I remain hopelessly single and wear androgynous clothing & wigs. Wigs are fun. “Male” clothing lacks for the diverse vibrant colors I can find in the “Women” section of thrift stores. Yep – these were the factors that led to a sudden shut down in the interview process. No biggie. I do not want to work with bigots.
I do want my friends to realize the pervasive undercurrent of homophobia that invades almost all aspects of my life since I decided to stop “passing” as straight. Try wearing a pride shirt to your local hardware store. If you get the same service as always, awesome! Tell me where they are so I can buy my art supplies there. In the meantime, imagine having to question your qualifications for a position and where to seek to improve your CV when you suffer from an unceasing suspicion that you were looked over for tweeting “#BoycottIndiana until all LGBTQ youth receive equitable treatment”.
In all fairness and full disclosure I have simply stopped applying to any position outside of LGBTQ youth advocacy. Except for EduBlogger, those folks are beyond equitable and I really enjoyed meeting them year after year at ISTE, I am only applying for work that targets improving equity in education. Now when I ask for feedback after an interview or failed application I feel more confidence about the nature of the feedback. “Oh, you think my carelessness with my letter (I swear I thought I correct ‘the the’ to ‘to the’ but apparently my major typing error got me twice) may translate into mistakes? Great feedback, I am aware of my tendency towards that particular error which is why I view working with a team for co-editing as invaluable.” Dang! Next job….at least they did not dislike me because I like androgyny!
Sadly I know I am a hypocrit. I’m working on it.