A while ago I made what seemed like a fun, innocuous little tweet.
What I did not yet know was that the day before, my boyfriend got an official talking to from his supervisor. Someone had complained that he and a coworker had a conversation that was “inappropriate for the workplace.” Because he mentioned that his girlfriend, that’d be me, is bisexual.
Literally the day before.
By the way, my boyfriend? He’s a chatty guy around folks he likes. Exactly the sort that shares all the weird, effed up stuff he trips over on teh interwebs. That youtube video of that fight from The Witcher, set to that one song? Yup. That video of the dog in the spider costume chasing folks around at halloween? Uh huh. That one music video that’s basically a pokemon singing about how the bitches love him? Oh yeah.
He works in an office now, but he has stories from when he worked in plumbing. And not the nice, clean version of plumbing either. The “you have human waste bubbling up out of your toilet” version of plumbing. The “your entire crawl space is filled with spiders and poo” version of plumbing. The “I have a photo of me holding the rat I pulled out of someone’s sewer line” version of plumbing.
But somehow, none of those stories caused any complaints.
Which is, quite frankly, amazing. Because some of those stories are just … 🤮.
Yet the mere mention of my bisexuality sent someone running to complain. Confirmation of my existence as a bisexual is apparently a matter for HR. A central aspect of who I am as an individual, a basic part of my humanity, is against the rules. How offensive.
As long as we don’t have those protections, neither does anyone else. That’s right, LGBTQIA protections aren’t just for us, they’re for everyone. What do I mean? Let me explain.
When some people (okay, conservatives) say that LGBTQIA folks don’t need discrimination protections in the workplace, what they mean is that we don’t deserve them. And anyone who disagrees with them is suspect and thus fair game. That’s the thinking behind running to HR because someone said the word bisexual in conversation. It’s how nobody looked at that person right in the eyes while asking, “what’s your point?”
LGBTQIA protections are as much for our families, our friends, our partners, and our supporters as they are for us. Or did you think it’s only the queer kids who face pushback for wanting QSA (queer straight alliance) clubs in school? Only the trans kids getting hate mail for wanting to use the restroom of their gender instead of their birth-sex? Only the queer half of the mixed-orientation relationship that catches flack for their choice of partner (yes, we are still queer, thanks)?
For every queer person out there, of whatever variety they happen to be, there exists a multitude of cis-het (straight, gender as assigned at birth) folks who love and support them. Parents, siblings, children, aunts/uncles, cousins, nieces/nephews, friends, coworkers, classmates, bosses, subordinates, etc. Any one of whom could face discrimination in work, school, or housing on account of their support for us.
- Have worries about your kid starting puberty blockers?
- “That’s not appropriate for the workplace.”
- But don’t forget to ask Jimmy how his kid is doing with those new asthma meds.
- Your BFF written out of the will by their homophobic parent?
- “You shouldn’t be talking about that here.”
- And how’s Karen’s inheritance making it through probate court?
- A cousin staying with you after leaving an abusive partner?
- “Your lease doesn’t allow you to have long-term guests.”
- Just don’t tell Susan down the hall, her friend and friend’s baby have been here three months after her husband ditched them.
- Don’t know what to do with your aging grandparents who can’t live on their own anymore but none of the senior care homes in the area are queer friendly?
- “You should just get them into a home already and quit complaining.”
- But please, regale us with stories about your father-in-law moving in with you.
LGBTQIA folk are here to stay. As we gain more acceptance and inclusion, the opportunity for splashback bigotry against our supporters spreads as well. As we continue to strive for the legal protections needed to defend us from narrow-minded bigotry, remember that they aren’t just for us. They really are for everyone.
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