Homosexuality is never an issue in the workplace, until someone finds out about it that is. No matter what a state or companies policy is, someone is almost always going to make an issue of it. That’s just a fact of life albeit a sad one. Consider for a moment that in the United States, a person cannot be fired from their job for being heterosexual, however in 30 states people can be legally fired for nothing more than being gay. That is simply atrocious.
Gay people in the workplace has been a hot button issue since the mid 1970′s in America when Anita Bryant meshed her “Save Our Children” anti-gay campaign with those of Jerry Falwell and political opportunist John Briggs from Orange County California. Briggs was particularly distasteful to most as he took whatever he saw getting one person attention and went a step further. If Bryant said kids shouldn’t be exposed to gays, Briggs said gays were pedophiles. If Falwell said God didn’t condone the act of homosexuality, Briggs said God hated gays. When it came to employment Bryant felt gays were unfit to be teachers, so Briggs went a step further yet again. He espoused that not only should gays not be teachers, and as if that was not idiotic enough, he further wanted any heterosexual person which expressed open support for gays to lose their jobs as well. We can only wonder what the California educational system would have looked like from pre-school to Stanford. He believed if you wanted a job you would stop being gay in the blink of an eye. He had grander visions however to one day spread the ban to bar gays from any jobs which integrated with children, so long McDonalds! Thankfully Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones, Anne Kronenberg, Ronald Reagan, and a host of political supporters threw their collective weight behind defeating the Briggs initiative.
Why that is significant is that this was the attitude America had towards gays in the workplace just 32 years ago! This was an actual initiative on the ballots of many states, although California was the only one to go so far as suggest those who merely support gays be fired as well. Now we fast forward to current day America and see that 60% of the U.S. still discriminates against gays in the workplace. Fortunately in many of those states employers show more common sense than the State Government and employ their own non-discrimination policies to protect their workers.
From the social standpoint as work is partially social due to regular interaction with each other, for the most part homosexuality isn’t an issue in most career fields. Certainly there are a few which are notably homophobic, but even they are slowly changing. Most people just don’t care anymore who you sleep with. The vast majority of gay people have the same common sense that most straight people have when it comes to proper workplace relations. The stories of the gay person droning on about the previous nights lusty romp is blown way out of proportion. It is no more common than the same story related by a heterosexual. It is more vividly remembered however because it is different and therefore seems more prevalent.
The bottom line is if a person can do a quality job, be depended on, and work for a competitive wage there is no reason under the sun to care if they sleep with men, women, or both. Jobs are about work, home life is about home life. They are separate and distinct. If a heterosexual person wants to mingle the two at the water cooler they have to accept the fact that a gay person may chime in. It’s no more appropriate for a straight person to talk about sex at work than it is a gay person. Straight people and gay people alike need to accept the fact that they are going to work with people different from themselves over the course of their life and that it is much easier to accept those differences and get along than create a hostile antagonistic work environment in which everyone is uncomfortable, unequal, and decidedly unhappy.