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QotD: Gay

Question: What the hell does being gay have to do with getting a job?

My Answer: Hell if I know. I couldn't care less whether an employee of mine was gay or not, but just as I'd never hire a guy like Todd on the TV show Scrubs (think: overt sexual behavior, usually straight), I'd never hire a guy who felt the need to wave a rainbow flag in my face. Putting "I am gay" on a business card instead of, say, your phone number? Doesn't show a lot of common sense for a guy who "thinks about" "navigational issues." How do I navigate to your phone number? (It ain't on his home page, either.)

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

49 Responses to "QotD: Gay"

  1. I think its clever. Its not a good feeling having a job wondering if you will be at risk if you came out. With that card, you put the information on the table, and so you know if you're hired you're a-ok with them.

    But perhaps you've never squirmed infront of a boss when they start getting curious about your homelife and "roommate." In which case, you wouldn't understand.

  2. I wouldn't squirm, because firing someone for being gay (or tall, or a woman, or black, or a Patriots fan) - or even asking questions about unrelated personal things like a "roommate" - are illegal. Employees can sue, and do sue, and often win.

    I treat "I am gay" the same as someone putting "I am straight" on a card. What does it matter? Who cares? How can one justify putting that on instead of a phone number?

  3. Actually, many states have put laws on the books specifically excluding sexual orientation from discrimination laws. My home state passed such a law and I moved to the Bay Area shortly thereafter. I know when I'm not wanted. Although I'm not necessarily a proponent of wearing your sexuality on your sleeve, it is eventually going to come up. If you work closely with a group of people and reveal absolutely nothing of your personal life, people wonder what's wrong with you. And I'm not a big fan of having to make up an intricate false backstory.

    I've struck a compromise by dying my hair orange and spiking it before every job interview. (I still dress nicely, mind you.) It doesn't necessarily label me as gay but if someone will hire a new employee with orange hair, they probably won't have a problem with homosexuality 😉

  4. Didn't know that, John. Thanks.

    And clever bit on the orange hair, I suppose. Credit to you.

  5. But in the same vein, why would he put his age on the card either? Or nationality, unless he's going for specific jobs that require citizenship.

    I guess I'm saying I agree, I would rather see this:

    "My name is TOM COATES

    I do R&D work.

    I think about..."

  6. I don't think putting it on there has anything to do with getting a job. I think susan is right though -- it reassures him that he's not going to be fired in 6 months when they find out.

    And there might be laws protecting people from thigns like that, but the effort of suing usually is not worth the outcome.

  7. Hang on - you wouldn't hire someone who mentioned early on that they were gay because it would be pushing it in your face? That seems a bit hardcore.

    Well anyway, I was thinking about these kinds of issues a lot when I made the thing, and the two conclusions I came to when trying to work out what to write on the piece of paper w/r/t sexuality and stuff were:

    (1) It's NOT the same as saying you're straight. People will *assume* I'm straight if I don't tell them anything different. Straight people don't have to make their sexuality clear to people.

    (2) I want to avoid the difficult situation of being in a situation where someone sits across from me and makes gay jokes or asks me about my wife or whatever and then subsequently feels (rightly) embarrassed or self-conscious when I finally have to tell them that I don't have a wife and I don't find gay jokes terribly funny. And I don't want to have to worry that when I finally tell people that they're going to feel that I lied to them in any way or was duplicitous. I want to be able to talk freely about ex-boyfriends or whatever should it come up in conversation and not have it be a big issue. And I want to make sure that if someone's going to have a problem with me being gay when I'm going for a job that we both know it before either they offer it to me or I take it.

    Therefore I get the whole gay thing out of the way as soon as is humanly possible. Once it's known then the person concerned can get all their crap or questions or complete ambivalence or not-giving-a-shitness out of their system and we can start talking like actual grown-ups. I spent ten years of my life avoiding the issue. I don't want to do that any more.

    With regards to my phone number. Well to be honest, I don't use a phone very much. And I'd rather choose whether to give out my telephone number to people on a case by case basis, depending on whether they needed it, rather than give it to all and sundry. I don't think that's terribly relevant to 'navigational issues' to be honest. And I don't have it on my site because a reasonable number of people visit my site, and I run online communities and I don't really like the idea of people I ban on Barbelith.com (for saying that they want to beat up black people with tire-irons for example) being able to ring me up at home or at work and give me a hard time

    Actually, I find your whole reaction here slightly infuriating. Realistically, what particular difference does it make to your life what I'd like to put on my business card? And why be aggressive about things you don't understand (like how 'coming out' is a process that you have to do every time you meet someone new) when you could just ask me directly?

  8. PS. It also has nothing whatsoever to do with 'overt sexual behaviour', any more than you being seen with your girlfriend or wife in public has anything to do with overt sexual behaviour, or a wife referring to herself as a 'Mrs' is about overt sexual behaviour. I mean - can you imagine that! A woman wandering around the place, adding something to her very name that suggests that she's heterosexual, married and has probably had sex with a specific person! How disgusting that she'd wander around advertising the fact! Slut!

  9. What kind of question is that?

    Tom rightly takes someone to task for what appears to be an ill-informed, reactionary, passive-aggressive rant....

  10. Quote of the year

    It [...] has nothing whatsoever to do with 'overt sexual behaviour', any more than you being seen with your girlfriend or wife in public has anything to do with overt sexual behaviour, or a wife referring to herself as...

  11. links for 2004-12-22

    Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Being an episodic and not entirely functional film for children, whose unexpectedly dark, macabre, mournful and witty elements are easily worth the price of admission... (categories: film filmadaptation ...

  12. Straight people don't have to make their sexuality clear to people.

    And I would argue that nobody has to make their sexuality clear to people. What does sexuality has to do with performing a job? Or at least one not related to sexuality, anyway? Nothing.

    I want to avoid the difficult situation of being in a situation where someone sits across from me and makes gay jokes or asks me about my wife or whatever and then subsequently feels (rightly) embarrassed or self-conscious when I finally have to tell them that I don't have a wife and I don't find gay jokes terribly funny.

    There's a big difference between putting something on your business card and telling someone who's being a jackass to shut up. That's all the guy is - a jackass.

    Perhaps I'm not in touch with the struggles of the gay man (or woman). Heck, no perhaps about it. Even still, I have a hard time believing that you'd rather waste space on a business card than tell a jackass to shut up.

    You've been forced into a precautionary position. I'm absolutely sure I'm not choosing the best words here, but a guy who makes jokes about your sexuality behind your back is still a jackass, so I'm not sure you've really solved anything by putting it on the card.

    Unless someone asks you during an interview "dude, you gay?" I can't see how you'd feel "duplicitous" for not mentioning it. It's none of their freakin' business.

    I was asked once (right after I was asked if I smoked and drank), and it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'd applied to work for them, and I left. From what little I know of you, Tom, you seem to have a lot of respect for yourself. Why you're failing to display that quality here is beyond me.

    There's a grey area between "avoiding the issue" and shoving it in people's faces. I'm not sure you've found the sweet spot with this one.

    Actually, I find your whole reaction here slightly infuriating.

    Tom, you're one strange puppy.

    PS. It also has nothing whatsoever to do with 'overt sexual behaviour'

    Yes, it does. To me, "I am gay" is the same as putting "I am straight" on a business card, and it's one step shy of a woman walking around saying "I like to suck dick" or a guy talking about a customer's big boobs.

    And if you've never seen Scrubs, then perhaps you've simply completely misunderstood what I've said.

    I think that a person's sexuality is their own damn business. It should not need to be flaunted. It simply shouldn't ever come up - it's an employee's private business. If your "slut" example was sarcasm, it's failed: I wouldn't hire a woman like that either.

    You've "made it" come up. I don't have to understand the "process" of coming to know that I don't give a shit. I simply don't care if you're gay or not. Good for you, whichever road you take. Keep it to yourself and I'll do the same. Very, very simple.

    A business card is your first impression for a lot of people. I think with this card (which I realize is not even a physical object yet), you'll be making a bad one with a lot of people.

  13. To me, "I am gay" is the same as putting "I am straight" on a business card, and it's one step shy of a woman walking around saying "I like to suck dick" or a guy talking about a customer's big boobs.

    saying I am gay is NOT just about what goes on in my bed. Comparing it to a woman saying what sex acts she likes or a employee making inappropriate comments is just disgustingly insulting. I'm gay is part of my identity, my daily life, fears, worries, partnership, pride and happiness. It actually has little to do with sex. In the end, it, as well as "im gay" on a buisness card is a FAR cry from overt sexuality as you call it.

    I have so much more to say on this topic based on replies, but i wont. Why? Because you simply do not understand and probably can not. Equating announcing "im straight" to "im gay" just proves this.

    Things must look real rosy through your straight white male glasses. If could ever take them off, you would understand.

    If this were my buisness card, you are exactly the "I sware im not homophobic...BUT..." type I hope it would scare off. Now go play some golf and shoot some guns; you'll feel better about yourself.

  14. I have to agree with Erik. None of the business cards I have ever seen mention sexuality (or age for that matter). So when I saw the mock card both of these lept out at me.

    I personally felt that sexuality was pushed at me because of this.

    It also seems to me that it could be due to somebody considering being gay as central to their life (it reminded me of David "I am the only gay in the village" from Little Britain [a UK TV show]) in the same way that some people bring God and their faith into EVERY conversation.

  15. Susan, there are far more tactful methods by which someone can make an inquiry as to the "gay-friendliness" of a company. Putting it on a business card makes the job applicant stand out as a person who may cause trouble.

    "I'm straight is part of my identity, my daily life, fears, worries, partnership, pride, and happiness." That doesn't mean I've gotta run around making a point of telling everyone I meet that I like chicks. It has nothing to do with "can you do the job?"

    If "I'm straight" is not the same as "I'm gay" you're going to have to explain why. Simply saying "It's not the same" doesn't really cut it.

    I'll attribute your horrendous spelling and grammar to the rage in which you seemingly typed your last reply. 😛

  16. You joke about the "rage" but if you only knew how upsetting your passing comments are.

  17. I really don't see how you can compare putting "I am gay" on a card to using Mrs. in a title. I think a more accurate comparable would be "I am straight".

    And in such an instance, I think the 'in your face' issues apply just as much.

  18. A few questions to think about:

    If you don't care that Tom's gay, why are you making such an issue out of him saying it?

    What does the content of a business card have to do with getting a job? Are there other situations, perhaps, in which people might exchange business cards?

    Why are three words about himself on a card more offensive than having loud confrontations with people, which is what you suggest?

    What's wrong with Tom wanting to avoid loud confrontations with people whose prejudicial attitudes are unlikely to change?

    Why are you telling Tom to respect himself, yet somehow equating that with not telling people about who he is?

    Why can you not understand that being gay is an essential part of who Tom is, and about so much more than just sex?

    If you admit that you know so little about what being gay is actually like, why are you denying or ignoring everything that homosexuals are telling you about what it means to them? (As evidenced by your reply to Susan's last comment.)

    Since putting "Mrs." in front of your name explicitly refers to marriage and thus (currently) heterosexuality, how is that not the same as "I am straight"? How about wearing a wedding ring? Is that an overtly-sexual action too?

    In your wonderful universe, in which declarations of homosexuality and heterosexuality are identical in effect and in which nobody ever makes assumptions about sexuality that have unpleasant consequences, how many thousands of years ago was homophobia eradicated?

  19. I think what is pissing people off is the thought that Erik doesn't care.

    Nor do I. Well, let me be more clear. I don't care about the sexual identity of people I don't know. I also don't care about their diet, favorite color, religion, or anything else that makes them a human. I don't know them well enough to care. What bearing does your sexuality have on your appropriateness for a position?

    Hell, is "gay" all you are? You don't exist outside of being Gay? Man, that's rather limiting in a conversation don't you think?

    "Nice weather we're having"

    "I'm gay"

    "Man traffic sucked"

    "I'm gay"

    "Okay, you're gay"

    "I'm gay"

    "we just established that"

    "I'm gay"

    "...right...so I'll just go chat with someone who can tell me something else, mm-kay?"

    "you're a bigot"

    "WTF?"

    Why is it somehow okay for you to tell me, a total stranger, within minutes of our first meeting what your sexual identity is, if you're gay, but not if you're straight?

    Oh wait, that's right, all straight white guys are too busy plotting how we're going to get all the chicks, spics, negros, kikes, dikes, queers, chinks, etc., to understand why that's necessary.

    Why is it okay to treat my sex, sexuality, and race, three things i have no control over, like they're dirty, dispicable things that automagically make me a bigot and blind to the world, yet, if I were to do that to a gay person, or anyone who isn't a straight white guy, then I'm just a horrid evil person?

    Susan, why is it okay for you to assume Erik is a bad person because he's a straight white guy, but not okay for him to assume you're a bad person because you're a lesbian?

    I wish i wasn't straight and white and male. it must be so nice to be able to crap on people and be cool *because* you're doing so, not in spite of doing so.

    Cast out the beam in thine own eye before you cast out the mote in mine.

  20. If you don't care that Tom's gay, why are you making such an issue out of him saying it?

    He put something on his blog. I put something on mine. That's how these work. What I originally wrote was quite small. I would argue that I'm not the one making an issue out of things.

    What does the content of a business card have to do with getting a job? Are there other situations, perhaps, in which people might exchange business cards?

    What's the first word in "business card"?

    Why are three words about himself on a card more offensive than having loud confrontations with people, which is what you suggest?

    I don't suggest having loud confrontations with anyone. How about saying "I'm gay and your comments are offensive, jackass" in a normal tone of voice?

    What's wrong with Tom wanting to avoid loud confrontations with people whose prejudicial attitudes are unlikely to change?

    It's unnecessary. It puts his sexuality in the forefront. Who cares? I don't. Should I list my favorite cereal on my business card? No. It doesn't belong there. Neither, in my opinion, does "I am gay."

    Why are you telling Tom to respect himself, yet somehow equating that with not telling people about who he is?

    You completely missed the point.

    Why can you not understand that being gay is an essential part of who Tom is, and about so much more than just sex?

    I'm not even debating that. I'm debating the practicality of advertising the fact that you're gay (or not) on a business card. How many times have I said that I don't care whether someone is gay or not? It has no impact on the ability of someone to do a job. Who gives a flying fuck what Tom's "essential parts" are? An employer is going to care whether he can do a job, simple as that.

    If you admit that you know so little about what being gay is actually like, why are you denying or ignoring everything that homosexuals are telling you about what it means to them? (As evidenced by your reply to Susan's last comment.)

    I'm not. But unless Tom is going to hand his business card to only gay business owners, the opinions of others - including me - are going to matter. Not necessarily me (he hasn't applied for any job I've got), but people like me or similar people.

    Since putting "Mrs." in front of your name explicitly refers to marriage and thus (currently) heterosexuality, how is that not the same as "I am straight"? How about wearing a wedding ring? Is that an overtly-sexual action too?

    People typically don't put "Mrs." or "Mr." on business cards, so, moot point. And there really isn't room for it on an application. It's not on a résumé either.

    In your wonderful universe, in which declarations of homosexuality and heterosexuality are identical in effect and in which nobody ever makes assumptions about sexuality that have unpleasant consequences, how many thousands of years ago was homophobia eradicated?

    I don't live in a wonderful universe. I live in a world in which I expect people to keep their personal lives to themselves, and expect that I will respect their personal lives as just that: personal lives. Not business-related.

    It's really very simple.

  21. I think it's a good idea. In fact I'd take it a step further and insist all gay people had 'I am gay' tattooed on their foreheads.

    The same with people from Asia too. Think how much easier it would be if they sported 'I am Chinese', 'I am South Korean', 'I am Japanese' tattoos. There'd be no reason at all for that 'Hey, they all look the same to me' excuse to be trotted out in police station line-ups.

    And what about people with facial hair? "I have a moustache" or "I sport a neatly trimmed Goatee" would certainly provide people with the information they need to make an informed decision based on something which doesn't matter at all.

  22. When I first read Tom's post both the age and and "I am gay" parts of the card leapt out at me -- they didn't seem to fit in on a business card. But then it's not a normal business card, as is obvious by the style and the rest of the content. A card should be an expression of its owner, not only in design but in content and if, from his experience, Tom feels proceedings will run smoother if he makes something clear from the outset, then he should be free to do that. Maybe you wouldn't hire him, but then he'd probably be happier that you didn't too, so it's done the job.

    Having read his explanation here it seems a more reasonable idea, although I must admit I'd still find it a little odd if someone gave me a business card with this on it. But it's up to him, and either way, I didn't feel it was a big enough deal to bring up in the comments on Tom's post. Never mind create a snarky post on my own site about him...

  23. On putting 'I'm gay' on a tongue-in-cheek mock-up of a business card (and all the bloody grief it's causing)...

    So I've been trying to respond to the thread about my apparent obsession with going on about my sexuality (note - they're talking about this) that's manifested over at NSLog(); except now all my comments are getting bounced for 'questionable...

  24. John C Welsh - the point is that you don't need to tell people you're straight because they'll just assume you are. Just like they'll assume I am too. And I'd be surprised if you managed to get through a day in your job without your heterosexuality being referenced in some way - either just by mentioning your partner or in conversation about some other apparently unrelated thing like what you're doing for Christmas or what your New Year's Resolution might be.

    And by the way, yeah - anyone who stood their saying "I'm gay" in response to every comment directed at them would get pretty boring pretty quickly. But then I'm not proposing doing that, am I? I'm proposing that we find a way to get that conversation out of the way as quickly as possible - ideally without actually having to have the conversation at all. Then we can all talk about the weather and stuff without getting into situations here people have to be called names.

  25. that's what being gay is all about! making sure everyone knows you're gay.

  26. So tell me, Erik, why does your weblog state, in the right hand column, that you are a:

    "// Geek, Lover, Golfer"

    What does it matter? Who cares? How can one justify putting that on instead of a phone number?

    Golfers. Pah! They should keep it to themselves.

  27. On his about page he has the nerve to talk about his girlfriend. It's almost as if they're fornicating in front of me right now.

  28. There's two things I'd like to point out.

    1. The crux of the matter is that Erik is asserting that Tom's declaration of his sexuality is *WRONG* (despite his qualifications that this is due to the fact that he feels it is an irrelevance for Tom to make this declaration). I don't think Erik understands how oppressive this stance he's taking actually is.

    2. If you read Tom's original post, the business card idea was light hearted and "rose-tinted" idealist in intent. Perhaps you should re-read it and try and take it in the spirit that it was intended.

  29. Tom… okay so really minor point. Welch. Not Welsh. Welch. You see it every time you go to grocery store that carries major market juices and jellies. See… that's MY rant that is TOTALLY meaningless to everyone else. 5 letters, one syllable, you probably see the damned word at least once a week, yet the percentage of people spelling my last name correctly is what, 10%? But if you aren't me… who friggin' cares. I realized long ago… people will never spell my name right. Such is life.

    On the assumption thing. Well, people assume a lot of things. They're probably wrong. What are you going to do? Not a god-damned thing. So someone who doesn't know you assumes you're straight. AAAAGH!!!! YOU'RE UNCLEAN!! Quick, get "the gay" soap and wash until the stench of assumed heterosexuality is gone! People assume stuff all the time, you think you're going to stop that with a friggin' card? Talk about wearing some rose-colored glasses.

    If someone I didn't know at work made "I'm gay" the first, or even the fifth thing they said to me out of context, then I'm making an assumption. That for whatever reason, they're just as insecure about their sexuality as some twat of a redneck talking about "evil queers", and avoid any discussion of anything that REMOTELY could bring it up, because people who are that insecure suck total ass to talk to.

    My second job in massachusetts, one of three guys in our little IT shop was gay. Me, Bob, and Mark. I talked about my wife in proper context, Bob talked about his wife, in proper context, Mark talked about his… partner? SO? Boyfriend? (We need a better term), in PROPER CONTEXT. He didn't bring it up out of the blue. Because when you do that, it's TMI. You know what he had on his business cards? Stuff that was pertinent to his work. "I'm Gay" wasn't one of them.

    He didn't hide that he was gay, he didn't advertise it either. He didn't have to. It's called "being secure in who you are". Of course, it let him make little comments that were funny as hell. Like when I turned 32, and was kvetching about prostate exams after 35, and he said, "yeah, those suck… wait, no they don't, I love that… as long as there are no hangnails." I called him an asshole because laughing with coffee HURTS. Funny as hell though.

    If you're putting "I'm Gay" on business cards, you're telling people that every interaction with you is going to go through the "I'm Gay" filter. You're becoming "The Gay Guy" as your identity. Not "Tom" who, among his other qualities is gay. But "The Gay Guy"… oh yeah, "The Gay Guy"… what IS his name… oh yeah… Tom.

    If that's what you want, cool, but then suck it up when people point out that you may be creating an environment that you think you're avoiding.

  30. wasn't the title of Tom's post "In a happier world would this be a good businees card"?

    unless I've missed something it was a made-up, what-if, not-actually-real post, wasn't it?

    good grief

  31. Hang on, John. Why would someone be looking at that business card and pick on the fact that it says "I'm gay" on it and from then on think of me as "that gay guy" rather than all the other stuff on the card?! Why wouldn't they be thinking, "Oh that English guy" or "The guy who does R&D" or "The guy who does plasticbag.org" or "The guy who thinks about social software". Thing is - you're focusing on the gay thing as if it's the only part of my character or personality. I'm not - I've written at least eight separate things about me on that card. Twelve if you consider each of my interests as a separate subject.

    So tell me again - precisely which one of us is more obsessed by me being gay? The guy who writes it as 1/12th of the information on the card about him (and not much more than 5% of the actual words on the card), or the guy who looks at the card and only sees the three words at the end of the third line?

  32. It's NOT the same as saying you're straight. People will assume I'm straight if I don't tell them anything different. Straight people don't have to make their sexuality clear to people.

    What a load of crap. People will not necessarily assume you're gay or straight. And where they do, it works both ways, someone might assume that somebody is gay when they are not.

    Essentially, you're putting forward double standards. I can only imagine what the reaction would be if somebody put on their website a 'business card' stating "I am straight".

    So tell me again - precisely which one of us is more obsessed by me being gay? The guy who writes it as 1/12th of the information on the card about him (and not much more than 5% of the actual words on the card), or the guy who looks at the card and only sees the three words at the end of the third line?

    If you put down something that so blatantly sticks out like a sore thumb, don't be surprised when somebody picks up on it! If I wrote a 10 page report and stuck "I am straight" on the third line, I'm sure that those words representing 0.005% of the document will be picked up and commented on.

  33. Clearly they wouldn't say out loud that they'd had a birthday party for their 3-year old son. I mean all of these things would be shouting from the rooftops about their sexuality.

    Tom, perhaps your position is so weak that you've felt the need to create a straw man to attack. I'm not suggesting that you can't talk about your boyfriend much the same that a straight guy can talk about their girlfriends.

    I'm surprised that you can't see this is a world away from having "I am gay/straight" printed on a business card.

  34. So tell me, Erik, why does your weblog state, in the right hand column

    It's a personal site. Not a business card. Does a business card have room for essays and photos and Questions of the Day? One you've failed to answer, btw?

    On his about page he has the nerve to talk about his girlfriend. It's almost as if they're fornicating in front of me right now.

    If you have to resort to making completely off-topic remarks, Tom, then you know you've somehow managed to screw something up. I don't give a shit what you say on your site. I simply think slapping "I am gay" on a business card is dumb. It has nothing to do with performing a job.

    wasn't the title of Tom's post "In a happier world would this be a good businees card"?

    In an unrealistic world. That doesn't stop me from asking the question. The easy counter to that: in a happier world, nobody would give a shit whether you were gay or not, and you wouldn't have to run around informing people when you first meet them, either. It's not necessary information.

    So tell me again - precisely which one of us is more obsessed by me being gay? The guy who writes it as 1/12th of the information on the card about him (and not much more than 5% of the actual words on the card), or the guy who looks at the card and only sees the three words at the end of the third line?

    Tom, your other stuff relates to the job. Here's the stuff I have a problem with: "I am 32. I am English. I am gay." "I do R&D work" - great! Job-related! Congratulations! The rest!? Job-related! Congratulations!

    It's not the size of the phrase "I am gay" that makes it stick out. It's the context. It's simply out of place.

    Folks, this is a business card. Very few people have answered the original question: what the fuck does being gay have to do with doing your job? Nada.

    Thank you for maintaining a (mostly) respectful tone. I was fully prepared to shut the comments down this morning, but so long as the behavior remains at least this civil they'll remain open. The maturity and respect being shown here is much better than was shown on some previous Kerry/Bush posts.

  35. Well, i can't speak to the UK laws, but in this country, you're not allowed to ask someone's age unless there's a hard requirement to know. (i.e., if you're interviewing for a Wine Taster, then being able to legally consume alcohol means that you need to ensure a candidate is at least 21.)

    Nationality is usually voluntary, but is used for things like EEOC stats. however, it's not a requirement either. I can't MAKE you say you're [ethnicity] to get the job.

    I've never, in any interview I've done, and i've done a lot, asked age, ethnic background, or sexual preference.

    None of that had anything to do with the position, and is, extraneous data. I don't care. I don't care what you do outside of work, that's your business, unless you burn down buildings while wearing the company logo. I don't care who you consort with. I don't care who you sleep with, just don't do it at your desk. (Office sex of ANY stripe is tacky.) I don't care about your social organizations. I care about your skills, I care about how well you communicate. I care about your professional demeanor. I care that you know the basics of please, thank you, excuse me, and don't scratch your bum during the interview.

    What possible reason would i have to know, or give a rat's ass that you're gay, straight, bi, or TG? What the hell does that have to do with anything. And before you bring it up again, that applies to heterosexuals too. I despise people who talk about their children or pets ad infinitum. (yes, I have one. I still hate hearing about them. i don't talk about mine out of context) I hate pregnant women who insist everyone withing arms reach feel their impending spawning. Unless i'm a personal friend of some sort, don't need to know your grampa has to wear diapers. I come to work, do work, have fun, and go home. I don't have to like anyone i work with, I just have to work with them in a professional, polite manner. If I decide to care about your personal life, you'll know, 'cause I'll ask.

    Indeed, were i to be cynical, i would say that putting "I'm Gay" on a *business* card, is deliberately making it an issue, and playing head games with the interviewer. How are they supposed to react? Congratulate you? Applause? Apathy? Ignore it? Ask you why you put it there? Seems pretty manipulative to me.

    The "I don't like gay jokes" thing is a non-sequiter. Everyone is offended by something, and comedy is supposed to offend anyway. People just tend to act like "Well, you can insult THEM, just not US". I like "South Park". They mock everyone and everything. Gay, straight, you name it. Why is it wrong for me to somehow force you to listen to me talking about the latest "Big Gay Al" bit, but it's okay for you to tell me I'm a jackass for talking about it? How come discrimination is okay for you but not me? Why must I know you're gay within seconds of meeting you?

    Oh, and you think gay people are the only people getting hit with assumptions? HAH! Try being a single father. I get hit with FAR more on a daily basis, and it's assumed that, thanks to my "y" chromosome, that I'm incompetent to care for my kid. EVERYONE gets hit with wrong assumptions. Why do [insert minority group here] always think they're special and unique in this way?

  36. but so long as the behavior remains at least this civil they'll remain open

    I think the comments have run their course and in a sense, it is a fuss over nothing. Perhaps if you had asked the question what does AGE have to do with getting a job then the reaction might have been different (and this point was noted on Tom's site without such a fuss).

    But because you commented on sexuality, then it automatically becomes an anti-gay comment, the gay bloggers of the world unite and the next thing you know you've got rainbow flags waved and virtual pride marches going on.

    I think the question was a reasonable one: what does being gay have to do with getting a job? In the UK, if an employer asked that in an interview, he'd have a potential discrimination case on his hands. Now it's all been blown out of proportion. The question was not an attack on gays, but some have taken offence for no rational reason.

  37. What precisely is my position?! That it makes it easier to interact with people if they happen to know that you're gay before they start making comments about your wife or children or whatever?! Would you rather someone asked whether I had kids at work one day and I then said, "No I'm gay, actually". You don't think that them not knowing about that might make them feel awkward?

    There's no straw man here. The comment made was that people shouldn't flaunt their sexuality by mentioning it on a business card. I was suggesting that if bringing up your sexuality at any stage was to be considered a flaunting, then a woman who called herself Mrs on her business card was doing exactly the same thing. Or wore a wedding ring to a meeting or an interview. That's all.

    Point is, it only sticks out like a sore thumb to you guys because you think it's a big deal someone saying it. I don't think it's a big deal. I don't see the big drama. I don't see it as grotesque or over-the-top or overtly sexualised for people to know whether you date men or women. I'm certainly not doing it to force it in people's faces. I'm not doing it to go on about it. I'm doing it because it makes social interactions easier for me, and often for the people I'm having the conversation with. As I say - it's there more to avoid having to make an issue out of my sexuality than it is to be all melodramatic about it.

    [By the way the reason that it would be weird to say that you were straight on a business card is because people would read it as if you were making it explicitly clear that you were not gay. Because - since the assumption would be that you were straight - that would be the only reason to actively go out and say it. To make it particualrly clear. These things are not symmetrical.]

  38. Would you rather someone asked whether I had kids at work one day and I then said, "No I'm gay, actually". You don't think that them not knowing about that might make them feel awkward?

    Actually I would. It might be awkward, but so could "No I'm single", "No, my son died in an accident" or "Yes, they are living with my ex-wife".

    The comment made was that people shouldn't flaunt their sexuality by mentioning it on a business card.

    OK.

    I was suggesting that if bringing up your sexuality at any stage was to be considered a flaunting

    I don't consider bringing up sexuality at any stage as flaunting and therefore, "then a woman who called herself Mrs on her business card was doing exactly the same thing. Or wore a wedding ring to a meeting or an interview. That's all." is not in point. However, we probably just have to agree to disagree that putting something on a business card that is not usual is not the same as using a title or wearing a ring that has been common tradition for years.

    Point is, it only sticks out like a sore thumb to you guys because you think it's a big deal someone saying it.

    Not true. It's because you're saying it in a context where it sticks out. Because it was uncalled for and because by doing so you have yourself made it a big deal.

    I don't see it as grotesque or over-the-top or overtly sexualised for people to know whether you date men or women.

    Agreed.

    I'm certainly not doing it to force it in people's faces. I'm not doing it to go on about it. I'm doing it because it makes social interactions easier for me, and often for the people I'm having the conversation with.

    While I don't doubt you, I would suggest that despite your intentions, that to somebody on the receiving end it might feel that way.

    Peace.

  39. Its clear to me that these comments are not going to convince the either side either way. (perhaps even more clear because I know we're right, they're wrong, and can only hope that with time they may some day understand 🙂

    As i've already said- to the gay posters and supporters- take a piece of mind that this buisness card is meant to detract from these "i promise im not homophobic" type.

    Its a matter of the "I get it"s or "i don't get it"s. I only want to work for the "i get it"s. And these comments are a perfect example of why a gay buisness card could be considered down right neccesary in this "i don't get it" world.

  40. To answer the original question (What the h*** does being gay have to do with getting a job?) and the second question posed in the comments of Tom's blog (what does being gay have to do with performing a job well?)

    Well, here's something that hasn't been brought up at all: I work for a company that doesn't offer insurance to gay partners. My boyfriend attends a law school that doesn't, either (although the ABA in the US does offer alternative insurance for gay law students). Nobody asked either of us whether we were gay during any kind of interview process, because of course it would be an invasion of privacy. And now this company & this school have no idea what sort of climate has been created for gay employees, because they have no idea who their gay employees are.

    So there you go. Health insurance and benefits packages are pretty important aspects of accepting a job or doing a job well, in my mind. And they're something straight people take for granted that gay people can't.

  41. You don't think that them not knowing about that might make them feel awkward?

    So now you're doing it because you feel bad about making people feel awkward? Cut the crap, Tom. You say later that you're doing it to make things easier for yourself. I'm telling you that, as a straight guy who doesn't tend to make too many assumptions about people, I hope it's the latter, because having "I am gay" put in front of me sure as hell doesn't make things less awkward.

    Several other people have pointed out that people make assumptions all the time. That doesn't mean we should all make everyone we meet read a ten-page "about me" so they can be sure to avoid feeling awkward.

    There's no straw man here.

    Yes, there is. Someone putting "Mrs." on a business card is out of context too. People put "Dr." on a business card, or other titles like "Esquire" or "DMD" or whatever, but those relate to their jobs. Business cards don't have "Mrs." on them, and if they did I'd say it was out of place as well. Job applications don't have a spot for "marital status." Nor do they have a spot for sexual preference.

    You've constructed a straw man. A wedding ring on an interview? The context of that wedding ring is her person, her body. Just as any other article of jewelry. If you want to compare a wedding ring to what you've proposed, the woman would have to write "I am married" on her business card. If I saw a card like that, what would my response be? "What the hell does being married have to do with getting a job?"

    There's your straw man.

    Point is, it only sticks out like a sore thumb to you guys because you think it's a big deal someone saying it.

    No. It sticks out because you're saying it on a business card. It's not "grotesque" or "over-the-top" in a lot of situations. On a business card, it is.

    I was friends with a guy in college, and we had an apartment our senior years. I'd always thought he was gay, but I didn't really care. He told me he was part-way through that last year. It didn't affect our friendship.

    Had he said "Hi, I'm Dave, I'm gay" the first time I met him, I don't know that a friendship would have evolved. It's just not a cool way to go about introducing yourself to people, especially in a business setting.

    As I say - it's there more to avoid having to make an issue out of my sexuality than it is to be all melodramatic about it.

    Mission not accomplished. Putting it on a business card makes an issue out of it.

    These things are not symmetrical.

    Yes, they are. Personal information unrelated to contacting someone or their qualifications for a job, their job title, etc. do not belong on a card. Whether it's "I am gay" or "I like Chihuahas". It doesn't belong.

    Brian, I realize that health care (etc.) matters to gay people, but again, there are far more tactful ways to inquire as to the health care policy of a company than slapping unrelated information on a business card. Inquire in the interview, on the phone, or with the HR rep prior to accepting the job.

    Now we're going around in circles a bit, so if nobody has anything new to say, there's really no need to continue.

  42. I think stating your sexuality on a business card might be ever so slightly over the top, but I guess that's could be because I'm currently enjoying the warmth of the coats in the closet.

    I think the reasoning Tom has, in a bright pink nutshell, is that he'd prefer the person to not make the gay joke, because the majority of people who make the gay joke arn't huge jackasses, they just don't have much experience with people who don't happen to be attracted to the other sex (and don't really get why calling something gay when they don't like it, isn't a very good thing to do).

    Popping it on his business card seems like a simple way of avoiding problems later on, if he mentions a past boyfriend, he's much less likely to get the "Boyfriend? You're Gay?" moment of uncomfortableness (I'd guess it wasn't great fun for your roomate in College to decide to/tell you he happened to be attracted to guys).

    Saying you're gay on your business card is stating a fact to prevent later uncomfortableness. It's not exactly donning leather hot pants and dancing half naked with a rainbow flag and bodypaint during the interview.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that:P

  43. This is awesome. It TAKES this kind of discussion to illuminate to us gays how much bigotry and lack of empathy still pervades our daily lives. LACK OF EMPATHY. I think Tom was very clear about his reasoning, but the opposing people can only see his arguments from their own perspective - they make no effort to see how it is different for a gay person - in fact they dismiss it. They have no idea the kind of bullshit we have to continuously deal with, in fact THEY are what we have to deal with. Even when actual physical violence is spared us, we still have to deal with this daily social and emotional violence. The card is kind of brave - it says 'I wont take that shit.' In fact, the greatest arsenal in the battle for civil rights for homosexuals is BEING OPEN. We would have no freedom without a declaration of our gayness. In fact we would be murdered and imprisoned. MURDERED if we are silent. That is what we still, made more obvious than ever by this discussion, have to contend with.

  44. Happy Holidays to you too, Ralph. Get a goddamn grip.

  45. Ralph. Your post (or stream of mental diarrhea) pretty much epitomises the rabid gnashings that we non-gays have to put up with.

    It's now 2004, soon to be 2005. It's almost fucking unfashionable not to be gay now. So why don't you quit the victim-mentality, the "sometimes it's hard to be a queer" attitude (is Patsy Cline a gay icon?) and just suck it up like a man (was that un-PC?) because, frankly, gays have got it pretty damn good.

    It TAKES this kind of discussion to illuminate to us gays how much bigotry and lack of empathy still pervades our daily lives.

    In my experience, gays/lesbians are the biggest bigots of them all.

  46. John: "However, we probably just have to agree to disagree that putting something on a business card that is not usual is not the same as using a title or wearing a ring that has been common tradition for years." - not usual vs. tradition? If you're arguing that then I'm afraid you've already made my point for me. I know that saying you're gay on a business card isn't usual. In fact in the history of the last hundred years saying you're gay at all hasn't generally been usual. It's been rather frowned upon, you might say. That's the whole point - we're trying to get away from that stuff. You say that it's fine for a woman to put 'Mrs' on her business card or to wear a wedding ring because it's tradition - but not okay for a gay guy to put 'i'm gay' on a business card. If it's only tradition that divides the two, then tradition can go hang - I'm going with what I think is right, rather than what my parent's generation thought was right before me.

    Erik: With regards to the silence = death stuff, I'm afraid I'm with Ralph. Gay people are fucked with every day all over the world - it may not happen in your group of friends, I have no doubt that you're charming to your gay friends, but I'm afraid that I don't subscribe to the view that people keeping quiet about it makes the bad stuff go away. I'm not up to date with the figures but last time I checked gay people still experience job discrimination, most had experience of anti-gay abuse, twice as many gay teenagers as average were attempting suicide and twice as many were succeeding, gay people were over-represented in homelessness statistics and had enormously higher rates of depression and mental illness brought about by stress, discrimination and anxiety. I think that's stuff to fight against, and I do think the best way to do it is to be open and clear about my sexuality. Many other people do too.

    On the other hand, I'm completely prepared to stand up and defend the statement that I'm doing this stuff to spare other people as much as to spare myself from the discomfort of weird situations. In one of my first ever jobs I had to deal with a guy who went on and on about the disgusting things gay people did in bed and how repulsed he was by them and how I would feel the same way if 'one of them' had ever come up to me in a bar. I didn't feel I could talk to him about these things, he was clearly an arse, but I got on with my job and kept quiet about it. In a number of occasions in other jobs in various parts of the country I've had people make comments about gay people, and some of them were like the guy in my first job - bloody unpleasant and actually slightly scary. But just as often it's felt like the person concerned is just trying to fit in, doesn't know any gay people whatsoever, has a really weird understanding of gay people or is just a bit clumsy. In one of my jobs - at the BBC actually - a young guy I was working with a bit kept making little references and comments in the office and everyone else knew and I kept trying to drop hints so I wouldn't have to explain to him in public in front of everyone, but he just wouldn't get it. In the end it got really difficult, so I had to write him a note. That way he got to save face and not look like an idiot. And he was a great bloke. Really liked him.

    Whole thing would have been made much easier if I'd just gone in and made it clear I was gay straight-off. Might have only taken one offhand remark earlier to avoid the whole situation. I think he'd much preferred to have known earlier, and I'd have much preferred he knew too.

    So there you go (1) I'm not going to just go with the conventional wisdom about this stuff I'm afraid, because I'm in a situation where the conventional wisdom isn't terribly good for me or for other gay people. (2) I don't particularly want to be someone who shouts out "I am gay" all over the place, but on the other hand, if people were assuming I was straight then I'd consider it bad - young gay teenagers need to know that there is a future for them if they're gay and that they can get on in the world. (3) The most important thing for me is that I can be as open as everyone else at work (not more open - as open) and to not have to think about whether being gay makes things diferent. The easiest way I have found to do that is to get it out of the way as soon as is humanly possible - so hell yeah - for certain contexts I would like it to be on my business card.

    If you don't agree with any of that - sure fine, that's okay too. It's not going to stop me doing it, and I personally think your response to it is based on faulty information. But you're entitled to your views, however wrong they might be. I just don't think you necessarily have the right to be cross or angry or mean about it. If you don't like the card, there's no reason to characterise it as militant queerdom or the actions of an insane flag-waving fanatic. If you think it would genuinely hurt my chances of getting a job, then why not articulate that with concern - "Are you sure people are going to get what you're doing here? Do you not think they might view it as extreme or innappropriate?" Then we could have had a dialogue that wasn't quite so confrontational.

  47. Oh and Isambard - wow dude, you've managed to roam so far off track that I'd be very surprised if Erik even wants you on his side any more. But thanks for sparing me the effort of having to explain why your arguments are so ridiculous! If you want some statistics by trusted sources, I'd cheerfully provide em for you.

  48. So why don't you quit the victim-mentality, the "sometimes it's hard to be a queer" attitude (is Patsy Cline a gay icon?) and just suck it up like a man (was that un-PC?) because, frankly, gays have got it pretty damn good.

    I know as well as the next man how annoying the whiney minority blaming everything on a "ism" is - some people are bad at their jobs and shouldn't blame things on sexism, racism, etc.

    But some groups, be it people from the 'wrong' race, or gays do still face discrimination. Most of the time I don't give a second thought to being gay, but when i was beaten up with the guy I was with at the time, I did. (before you ask, it was a homophobic attack, not some random drunken brawl)

    It might a "fashionable" to be gay, but in many places outside of the small 'gay villages' or whatever they are called this week in metropolitan areas, being gay is a problem to many people who might try to harm you.

    Most people won't, but it's not a good feeling to know that some people want to beat up people just for being gay.

    The card is a Tom-ism. It's a bit cheeky abd a bit brash, but that's what he's like at times. If people get offended by that kind of thing, then he's just made a self-selecting decision to reduce the people he might work for. If he can still find a job, why should he care.

    People might not like the card, it might cross the line of what you feel is appropriate - these things are relative so I shan't try and decide that - but please don't start acting if everything is rosy for the Gays. It's a lot better than it was, but it's a long way from being a non-issue.

  49. This topic has now wandered into the realm in which people are acting stupid. Three posts up being a good example (and five up being another).

    Topic closed for now. Anyone wishing to agree or disagree - or anything else - is encouraged to email me if they'd like.


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