The Rostow Report by Ann Rostow | 08.2015

TheRostowRprt_BoysAustinPride

PHOTO COURTESY OF AUSTINPRIDE.ORG

How was Pride this year anyway? Did you have fun? I live in Austin where organizers seem to schedule the pride festival at random every year and then keep the date a secret until someone lets the cat out of the bag one day in advance. I just checked. It’s August 29. Only a few weeks away. I’d better get my rainbow boa dry cleaned right away.


THE END OF ENDA

July was another excellent month in the annals of the splendiferous GLBT civil rights movement. Following our High Court marriage victory on June 26, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that sexual orientation is a form of illegal “discrimination…because of sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A week later, a whole bunch of House Democrats introduced the successor to the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a bill called the Equality Act which will officially add sexual orientation to Title VII and other federal nondiscrimination laws.

I know, that was a dense paragraph. But filled with happy news nonetheless. The horrible ENDA is finally dead, yay! (As loyal readers know, I have long hated this doomed and anachronistic proposal.) And we are at last working towards the obvious goal of simply adding gay men and lesbians to the long list of other groups long covered by existing law. Hey. There’s no chance the Equality Act will pass a GOP-led Congress. But at least we’re working towards a real end to discrimination rather than a half-assed piece of…did I mention I never liked ENDA?

As for the EEOC, this is the government agency in charge of enforcing Title VII. So while we wait to be formally added to the law’s coverage against workplace bias, it’s nice to know that we will be able to make a strong case in federal court whenever we find ourselves bruised and battered by mean bosses.

And—on a totally unrelated note—how about that guy who killed the lion? Can anyone be more despicable? The tragedy particularly hit home because the lion had a name, and because everyone in the press agreed that the poor animal was not just any lion, but a “beloved” lion. “Beloved lion, Cecil, beheaded by horrible American dentist” sounds a lot worse than “hunter kills lion.”

FIRST EAT ALL THE LAWYERS

I’ve been cruising for LGBT news this morning, and I was lured into a sideshow about a two-year-old boy who has become enamored with the local personal injury lawyer who he sees on TV. According to his mother, he stops and becomes fixated on the screen whenever this guy’s commercials are on. For his birthday, she acquired a life-size cardboard cutout of the lawyer, and got a cake with the lawyer’s face portrayed in icing. The little boy was reportedly delirious with joy, and kisses the cutout at night before bed.

I know it’s not LGBT news. Or is it? I know many of you guys have a few bizarre childhood obsessions still lurking in the recesses of your closets. Vacuum cleaners anyone?

At any rate, I also read a piece about a crazy knife-wielding zealot who stabbed six people at the Jerusalem pride parade before someone took him down. First, it’s lucky he wasn’t in the U.S. where he could have substituted an AK47 for his blade. Second, this guy served 10 years in prison for a similar antigay attack and just got out three weeks ago! I don’t think he killed anyone, but let’s just throw away the key this time. [Ed. Note: Sadly, right before this issue went to press, one of the victims, a 16-year-old girl, died of her stab wounds].

How was Pride this year anyway? Did you have fun? I live in Austin where organizers seem to schedule the pride festival at random every year and then keep the date a secret until someone lets the cat out of the bag one day in advance. I just checked. It’s August 29. Only a few weeks away. I’d better get my rainbow boa dry cleaned right away.

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

Speaking of crazies, I was also reading about gay bashers running around the Starbucks in West Hollywood calling people “faggot.” I thought of you all, dear readers of THE FIGHT, and wished I could have been there to throw iced caramel macchiatos down the seat of their pants and hit them in the heads with a rolled up copy of the New York Times. I would have too!

The sad thing of course is that we can never pass legislation to outlaw hatred, nor bring a court case to overturn prejudice. These we must quietly confront on the slow road to love and understanding. (Yawwwwn.) Oh what? Hi there, yes.

WHY CAN’T CAIT TRANSITION TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

Have you watched Cait Jenner’s TV show? I’m sorry. I admire Cait’s public transition as much as the next loyal member of the GLBT community, but that doesn’t mean I have the slightest interest in watching her get dressed and run around and talk to people or whatever.

I’m a big fan of “Top Chef” and “Amazing Race” and quite a few other reality shows. (I love the guys who sell real estate.) But spare me the ones where nothing happens and people just hang out and bicker. Speaking of Cait, Mel and I watched the ESPYs at our neighborhood gay bar the other night (Cait won an award of some sort) and we were shocked when they gave best female athlete honors to some unknown kick boxer rather than Serena Williams. Say what? They also gave a best male athlete prize to NBA championship loser LeBron James rather than to the horse that won the Triple Crown. We had never watched the ESPYs before, and don’t think we ever will again. That’s like giving the Best Actress Oscar to Melissa McCarthy for “Tammy.”

I have the vague feeling that I stole that line from someone, but it might have just been something I said at the bar at the time, so I’m keeping it. “Tammy,” after all, was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in recent history.

BAD MONKEY

So, I was pleased to read about a gay woman who won $100,000 from UPS after putting up with years of abuse from a Bible thumping supervisor. According to my legal muse, NYU law professor Art Leonard, Tameeka Roberts was plagued with antigay lectures and attacks from her boss, who was never sanctioned for his behavior even though she repeatedly complained through channels. The company was eventually ordered to pay up based on statutes in New York that prohibit gay bias in the workplace. Among other things, the supervisor put the “bash” in gay bashing by deliberately knocking a bunch of packages on her head.

I also saw that a former Navy Seal turned CIA contractor has complained about antigay harassment during a recent stint in Afghanistan. I suppose it struck me because you don’t usually see macho mercenary soldiers in the workplace discrimination news, now do you?

Among other things, his CIA buddies changed his code name from “Bad Monkey” to “Gay Gay.” They also made him walk back towards the base in 120 degree heat although they eventually came back with the truck and picked him up. Finally, the group used homophobic slurs and laughed dismissively while watching news coverage of the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling.

I’m sympathetic, but I also think our Seal may have been naive if he expected respectful workplace behavior from his presumably sophomoric comrades in arms. That said, the 120 degree hike was a bit much. According to ABC news, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is going to look into the case.

I’m rereading the last paragraph and it sounds as if I’m blaming the Seal for putting himself in an inherently homophobic situation, doesn’t it? Sort of like blaming a young girl for bad things that happen when she goes up to a guy’s hotel room in a skimpy dress after drinking until one in the morning.

But I’ve always blamed that girl. Not for the dress or the drinking. But for going up to the hotel room. Yes, yes. I know it’s never supposed to be her fault. Nothing justifies rape. Nothing excuses antigay language. Still, you know what I mean.

 

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