I Fight For Moments Like These

I’ve already posted an essay with my views and philosophies concerning intolerance and equal rights but I recently had an intense and tangible experience with LGBT intolerance. I recently began a part-time, minimum wage job near the University I attend to make some spending money and get out of the house a little more. I had been there two weeks when the night manager quit for another job and a fellow employee who had been there much longer was promoted to his position. I was scheduled to work his first real shift as manager and things went well to begin with. We talked about a shared interest in music, made jokes about cute girls that walked by with ugly guys and did our job. Things were going smoothly until an feminine man came through and, though my manager was very professional and polite while he was serving him, as the door closed he said very clearly “Fag”. Being someone who speaks about equality and tolerance, I did not hesitate to give my manager (let’s call him TJ)
a chance to take back his slur and let him know that I wouldn’t joke about this. He stood very firm on his viewpoint and we began to debate the point. It devolved into an intense argument that sent the other employees scurrying into the backroom while we became more and more entrenched in our viewpoints. I argued that he shouldn’t use slurs and judge people based on their demeanor, that this was dangerous and held us back from equality. He argued that biblically homosexuality was wrong and if you act a certain way then you are a certain way. I was in disbelief when he actually told me, and I am sure to quote, “I respect gays and all, like they can do their thing, but I believe we should round them all up and put them on an island and shoot them. That’s just what I believe.” I was shocked silent. It was so blatantly hateful. I’m used to bigots being cowards, never really exposing their intolerance unless they are in the presence of other bigots. I was shocked, but quickly
railed against him, telling him this viewpoint was flat-out “evil”. That rounding people up to murder them is akin to the Nazi Third Reich. That biblically the commandment to not murder far outweighs the Old Testament Leviticus passages concerning a man lying with a man like he lies with a woman. That working that Sunday and his involvement in an interracial engagement were also against biblical law. He would only say “that’s just what I believe. Do you think you’re going to change what I believe?” That’s a sentence and a sentiment that will stay with me a while. That, in his mind, he is so entrenched in his belief that nothing I can do will change it. The hold of religion in the weak mind is very powerful. A stout mind never stops looking for answers, never finds them and doesn’t believe those who do. Religion, and it seems particularly Catholicism, offers answers to people who don’t want to look. I’m really weary of defending human decency against archaic
divine orders, but I also fear what will happen if I, or people like me, stop doing so. Our shift would later end with the equivalent of us throwing up our hands, becoming polite once more and knowing we had to work together again.
Once I got home, I wasn’t sure if I would return. I considered switching my shifts so that I no longer had to work with this particular manager. I considered continuing to work but avoiding the issue of equality at all costs so to just amicably finish my shifts and get my minimum-wage checks without risk of losing my job. But after much meditation on the decision, and discussing it with someone whom I deeply respect who urged me to do so, I have decided to stay and keep debating and talking through the issue where relevant and prudent. As I was advised, staying here and fighting this intolerance with this one person could make the difference between someone feeling comfortable enough to embrace their true sexual identity or someone committing suicide because of the intolerance in their life. I can use this opportunity to clarify and crystallize my argument against intolerance, especially against biblical intolerance. I could make the difference in how this night manager treats or
raises his son.
I doubt I will do much to reach this particular bigot, but I know if I don’t fight here and know that I am as much of the problem as he is.

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2 responses to “I Fight For Moments Like These

  1. Oh wow. That guy sounds like a real treat.
    Good luck staying on and attempting to educate him.
    I’m sure you realize you may never succeed with him, but you can at least plant the seeds of critical thought, if not in his mind, then maybe in anyone else’s that happens to overhear.
    Clearly his stance has deeper routes that his religious beliefs. In most cases, people’s prejudices are their own, but the only way they can justify them to the world is to hide behind their faith, and that somehow makes it OK.
    That gets me really really angry when I see that, and I would have a hard time staying professional and cordial around him.
    But it’s what you must do. And hopefully an opportunity to really get through to him will arise. When all else fails, you should at least have no reservations about holding him accountable if you see him treating anyone poorly because of his “beliefs”. And you have the right to request that he not use that slur around you or at work.
    Again, good luck.

    PS: Imagine if he was exposed to the idea that not all gay people act “gay”. He probably encounters more gay people in his life than he realizes.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | Why do you fight?

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