Nov 22, 2007

[Gay Rights] Subtle Discrimination

Flickr: plusmedia - D4T - Chris Birthday - Halloween 019
D4T - Chris Birthday - Halloween 019
by plusmedia.

I think it was easier before all the concerns about political correctness and discrimination in the workplace. I'm not saying it's right or better to have things that way, but given today's working environment, I find myself constantly trying to define precisely where discrimination begins when it comes to the office.

You get what I mean. It's easy to tag blatant transgressions like smear campaigns and promotions denied without merit as clear discrimination whether based on race or sex or whatever. But then now who's to say what is truly discrimination and what is just us being overly sensitive about it?

Think about it.

As an out gay man at our office, I often wander into the usual jokes here and there that include references to the gay population, in the same way anyone is bound to encounter a racist joke or a sweeping statement about gender. Of course you try to remain civil and all as you assess the gravity of the situation, but how to do you define that border? It took ages for women to get harassment clearly defined and longer still for African Americans living in the US. Despite all that work, they're still struggling and they still don't get all the opportunities they should.

The fight for gay rights remains largely in its infancy, especially in a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines. Heck, I don't think there's any form of law that even mentions the fact that homosexuals exist in this country, although obviously we do. And with that, of course there are no anti-discrimination laws as of yet.

Then again, what kind of protections are we expecting? What is discrimination these days? Is telling a joke that makes fun of the more stereotypical traits of the homosexual population bad, even though you find it funny yourself? If someone does make a sweeping generalization about the gay population but says something to the effect of "But no offense..." or "But of course that doesn't apply to you..." make it all better?

In the work place, naturally even company events need to represent the company. I can understand not being comfortable with gay pageants at company outings - that's a bit too much even for me. I figure it wouldn't be appropriate to throw a wet T-shift contest for the ladies either, so it seems a similar case. But to specifically try to call for a total ban on cross dressing, even for company events, especially in the context of the call center environment - that seems a bit unrealistic and crass to me. It's all for fun after all, right?

It's not like every gay man feels the need to engage in highly scandalous and attention-grabbing activities in the work place - most of us just want to get our work done and get paid our due. We want to be able to work free of discrimination and expect to be treated fairly and evaluated equally along with our peers when it comes to promotions and rewards. Is that too much to ask?

I know, we shouldn't make everything about our being gay. That's a bit extreme for me too and I know it gets tricky trying to define that line precisely. Discrimination seems a whole lot more prevalent when you're being overly defensive since you're on the receiving end. I try my best to evaluate every instance and incident fairly and in a just manner, one that weighs in the harmless fun we're all entitled to and of course my own rights as an individual, as a basic human being.

It's a struggle, certainly, one that you live with every day when you find yourself to be part of any kind of minority group. It can be about the color of your skin or your sexual preference of your weight - you know that you just can't lash out and react to every probe and barb since if you do, then they win. However when do all these little incidents add up into systematic discrimination on a larger scale? When do you take out the placards and stand up for your rights?

It's a question I struggle to answer each and every day and some days are worse than others. What do you all think? When do we draw the line?


  1. Wow I am famous on the internets! I found this blog entry via flickr's new stats tool:

    Thank you for providing the proper attribution, it is rare these days!

    Cheers, plusmedia

  2. hey plusmedia,

    Glad you appreciated the mini-feature of sorts, it was a really good photo.

    i'm a big believer in the creative commons licenses in the hopes that it encourages more people to do the same.

    thanks for posting the photo!