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Selective Homophobia Is Still Homophobia

, , , , | Working | June 28, 2018

(I just got a new job as a cook in a hotel kitchen and am in training on night shift, even though I’ll be working mornings regularly once I’m fully trained. It’s about my fourth day of training. My coworker is Mexican-American and has his phone plugged into the radio, playing music in Spanish in the background. About halfway through the night, he offers to let me plug my phone in instead and pick the music, but jokingly adds “as long as it’s in Spanish.”)

Me: “Oh, yeah. I actually have a few Spanish songs on here.”

(I plug my phone in and pick one of the songs. It’s upbeat, and a little more pop than the hip-hop-sounding stuff he’s been playing all night, but I like it; it really puts some bounce in my step as I move around the kitchen preparing orders. After the second song by the same artist, I look at my coworker and he seems… not angry, but maybe exasperated.)

Me: “Don’t like this song?”

Coworker: “It’s too poppy. This would be like if I was listening to *NSYNC.”

Me: *jokingly* “You mean you don’t listen to *NSYNC?”

Coworker: “Of course not. Bands like that are why I’m homophobic.”

(I stare at him blankly for a minute, trying to decide if he’s joking; he’s not. It should be noted that I’m pretty obviously gay, from my short hair, to my clothing choices, to the rainbow pin on the bag I bring to work every day. The town I live and work in is super liberal, and I even talked about my same-sex fiancée in my interview when it came up, so I really wasn’t anticipating dealing with this sort of thing there.)

Me: “Uh… [Coworker], you do realize I’m gay, right?”

Coworker: “No, it’s okay. I’m only homophobic against gay guys.”

Me: “That’s… That’s really not better.”

(Later that night, he talked about how much harder it is to get a good job because of his brown skin and his accent. You’d think someone who faces discrimination themselves would be the first person to realize why discrimination is never okay! Thankfully, I’m on mornings now and all of my morning coworkers are super accepting.)

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