Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Can you help a brother please?

I think minorities and women should help each other out at work. I am not saying that minorities or women should be promoted unfairly, especially when our work is not up to par. But I see it as the duty of minority people (and women) to help other minorities (and women) to make sure everyone has all the help and mentoring they need in a straight-white-male dominated environment.

Let me be clear that I have nothing at all against straight white males, and I’m not suggesting they move to the back of the bus. There should be plenty of room for all talented individuals, no matter their race, gender or orientation, at the head of the table. But the reality is, especially in older circles, that there are still a lot of straight white guys sticking to their own kind and keeping all the fun to themselves. So there are situations in which minorities and women need to be mindful.

So why am I writing this? I have seen and experienced, numerous times, instances of gay guys not helping each other in the workplace. And that gets my goat.

It irritates me when a gay guy at work doesn’t want to be my friend. Yes, I understand that not everyone in the world is going to like me ---- but in the grand scheme of the general population, anyone who knows me will admit I’m pretty inoffensive. I’m not overbearing or loud (not usually, anyway.) I’m not an asshole. I’m not stupid, I’m not lazy and I’m not incompetent. (Or, at least I know how to hide my stupidity, laziness and incompetence when I’m at work.)

So when I work for a gay guy who seems to distance himself from me, I usually assume it’s because I’m gay and he a) doesn’t want anyone to think he’s doing me any special favors, or b) he’s uncomfortable in his own skin, and my smiling face just reminds him that he should be ashamed to be a big ole’ queer and that he’d better not attract too much attention. So bye-bye to Tom.

This has happened to me several times, either with people I’ve reported to or people who have been in the same organization but slightly senior to me. (For the record, I’ve also had more than one gay friend at work, so this problem is far from universal.)

But Poor George has had this problem in at least one severe situation. He worked for this bitter queen who was a total self-hater and as such, could not stand to see Poor George’s happy face every morning. He never said or did one nice thing to George, and eventually even got George fired.

Yes, PG had a few problems with the job and was slightly – just slightly – in over his head. But it was certainly nothing that could not have been fixed with hard work and some friendly mentoring. And who better to mentor a queer at work than another queer?

But it was not to be. This happened about six months ago and I’ve been meaning to vent about it for a while now. So here it is.

Listen up, my non-white friends, my gay friends, and my female friends. Don’t undercut your brothers and sisters at work. You may not like every one of them, and you certainly don’t have to be best friends with someone you don’t feel some sort of bond with. But I’m here to tell you that it is your duty to try to help move your brothers and sisters along in their careers. Someone probably helped you --- and it’s time to return the favor.

So unless your minority friend is incompetent or just plain bad, get with the program and lend a helping hand.

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