Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thanks for saying "gay"

Yesterday, I had the once in a lifetime experience of speaking before all the Walm*art managers in this great state. They called (from headquarters in Arkansas) and said they were holding a training on diversity and they would like the topic to be something like "How lgbt people contribute to corporate America" or something. I happen to do a workplace training that deals with such thing so I agreed to participate. Bad idea number 1.

I showed up early because that's just how I am. I watched the speaker before me and knew it wasn't possible for me to be more nervous than him so I relaxed. I met a few people and told them I was speaking. One lady, an HR MANAGER, asked, "so when we Get a gay employee, how do we deal with that?" I switched up my training a bit to include things like "how to Deal with a gay employee/co-worker". I figured if we got through the first steps then maybe I'd get back to my original topic.

I gave my speech. I through out every scenario I could think of when running into a "gay". I pretended to work at the Walm*art with a closet "gay" and listed some of the things I could do to make him/ her more comfortable. It was pathetic. So then I went on to the regular training and I don't think anyone heard how it could possibly be beneficial to them to hire or work with a "gay". (or any person different from them) I didn't get a single question, not a single head nod. Nothing.

When I finished, they gave me a certificate and a check. Some girl came running up and claimed to know me from high school. Then she said, "so, you kept your maiden name!" What? You aren't BORN with a maiden name. You get a maiden name when you take the name of someone else. I seriously didn't know what "maiden name" meant for about 5 seconds. Weird.

During the closing remarks, the big manager looked at me and said, "& let's all thank Keri for using such sensitive words like gay, lesbian and "t". That must be uncomfortable sometimes." Again, what? "t"? You can't even get that one out! Go ahead and thank me for standing in front of you for an hour with no more than a blink from anyone. Thank me for switching up my presentation to include terminology. But I don't need thanks for saying GAY. It's not a swearword for God's sake.

And in the elevator on the way to my car, a woman looked at me and said, "that must've been hard on you." You have no idea, lady.