Monday, November 24, 2008

"We should take the chickens out, and put the gays in"

So as I was driving to my last client of the day I knew that I would be done and home about an hour before my boy was to return to the house.  As I drove I was compiling the happy, warm fuzzy blog post I was going to do about what a wonderful weekend we had together.  I was going to mention some of the truly sweet moments that make me smile and make me appreciate what being The Boy's Mommy means.  But then something happened at my client's office and now I have to turn my happy blog post into an angry lesbian rant post.  I apologize in advance for that, but it has to be done.

I should give a little bit of background.  I have mentioned before that I am a self employed bookkeeper for a living.  I have been doing this for about 10 years so at this point all of my new business comes from referrals.  I don't advertise and I don't answer ads anymore.  So about a year and a half ago I got a referral for a new client from an accountant I know.  At the time he warned me, "Um, you should probably know that this guy is very conservative and that he subscribes to the "Old Boys Club" kinda attitude..."  

"So keep the gay thing on the DL, is that what you're saying?" I asked him smiling.  He said I didn't have to necessarily do that, but he just wanted me to know that before meeting the guy.  Good to know.

He was absolutely right on in his assessment I would later find out.  This guy in particular has more money than God.  Seriously.  Like nothing I have ever worked with before.  And he and his "cronies" sit around a big table (very Sopranos like) and laugh loudly and tell jokes and talk about their guns etc...  So it would be fair to assume that they have very different lifestyles, and most definitely politics, than my own.  I should also interject that I happen to like this guy.  He is a hard working man who has earned every penny of his money.  I respect that.  He has always treated me fairly and has even referred me to two other people for work.  

I have mentioned before on this blog that I am not someone who gets up on my soapbox and tries to convince people of how they should think and how they should live.  Therefore my normal practice when I get a new client is to kind of assess who they are and what they believe in and then divulge as much or as little about my life as is needed.  I think it goes without saying that I have never told this guy I am gay.  He knows I have a small child, and he knows that currently I am a single mother.  He just assumes that my previous relationship was with a man.  I never correct him.  In fact it is for this reason that this client was the LAST person that I told I was pregnant.  I was very nervous about telling him.  And, it turns out, for good reason.  I believe his reaction was, "WHAT?!?!  Didn't plan very well on that one, did you?"  I answered, "Yes, actually this was planned."  He said, "Well then apparently you have some sort of man in your life, I presume?"  I answered, "Actually it wasn't about that.  It was very important to me that my son have a sibling..."  He then cut me off and said something to the extent of, "Well, I certainly hope you make better decisions with my money than you do with your own life."  Nice.  I moved on and we haven't spoken of it since.

Okay, enough back story.  So I get into his office today and am sitting at his desk working away.  Most of the time he leaves when I get there, but he was hanging around today chatting with people.  There was two other people in his office at this time and I believe the conversation started with something to the effect of, "Well I have been around a long time and I have never seen the economy look like this..."  

Someone else (a woman; no clue who she is) said, "Well, didn't your pick for President win?" She says this laughing...  

"HA!" comes the reaction from my client.  

Other guy in the room (OG) chimes in and says, "Out of all the things I voted for in this election, only 1 thing won or passed.  And that was prop 8!"  HA HA HA all around for all three of them.  

Woman says, "The only thing I voted for that won besides prop 8 was the chickens."  

Client man says, "The chickens?  I believe in free market and if people want to shell out their money for organic chickens, so be it.  I don't think we need to change anything because the poor little chickens are kept in cages that are too small..."  

Then OG says, "I have a friend who has a chicken farm and they aren't kept in cages.  Pens, yes, but cages, no."  "Plus," he goes on to say, "The people who are mad about the cages?  The gays!  The gays are pissed off because apparently California likes the chickens better than they like the gays!"  HA HA HA HA  "They should throw the gays in those cages; that'll teach 'em!"

Client pipes up, "Well that's pretty much where they belong anyway.  Don't they know that the people already voted on this issue?  And for some dumb-ass liberal judges (CA Supreme Court) to come in and overturn that is just ridiculous.  We just had to shoot them down again.  But it isn't over.  Those gays will never let this issue die.  We just have to keep shooting them down...  We should put them in the cages just so we don't have to keep fighting the issue."

I could go on but I assume you get the drift of it.  Holy shit.  Never in my life have I been in this kind of a situation before.  Now I am sure there are a bunch of you out there who think I should have turned around, stood up in their faces and told them what a bunch of bigoted assholes they really are.  But I didn't.  Because really, what would that have done?  Would that have changed their opinions about anything?  Would it have shown them that someone they like, and have recommended to other people, is not harming their little society in the slightest?  I think not.  It wouldn't have changed a thing.  Except maybe my job.  So I kept my back turned towards my work, felt about an inch tall, and more uncomfortable than I have possibly ever been in my entire life, and then I went home.  On the way out I thought about the moral dilemma.  Do I want to work for people like this?  I don't really have to.  Fortunately I have a pretty large business and enough contacts that I could probably quit this client (and the two others that he has recommended that share his politics and views on life) and find new ones.  But isn't that kind of cutting off my nose despite my face?  Who does that hurt?  Who does that teach a lesson to?  Not my client.  He doesn't care.  He certainly wouldn't think any differently about his politics or morals based on my quitting because he is an ass.  In fact it would probably support his claim about gays because I wouldn't have enough of a backbone to take a little criticism.  I had to quit and run away.  But wow, it was a weird situation.  Never in my life have I sat in a room and listened to someone talk about me (even if they didn't know they were talking about me) and my family in that way.

As I have stated on this blog, prop 8 was really the only thing that I felt strongly enough to break my "no politics" rule about my blog.  And for the life of me, I honestly couldn't understand why people would vote yes on prop 8.  I really didn't get it.  And today I was surrounded by people who "explained" it to me.  Granted no one in that room knew or knows that I am gay so they can't be blamed for knowingly saying those things in front of me.  It was like I was a fly on a wall.  And if only I could have flown away.  I can't believe that, in California, in 2008, that people still think like this.  But they do.  And apparently I work for them.


AuntFancy said...

Wow, I'm sorry you had to go through that. I think you handled it very well. You're right, there's no point in confronting them because you aren't going to change anyone's mind. But it is very sad, that in this day and age, and especially in the state of CA, that people still feel that way. Makes my blood boil!

Whatever you decide to do, you have the support of the people who love you. :-) YOU are the best mom I know (besides my own) and your children will be raised with tolerance and acceptance, not blind discrimination.

Billy said...

Some people :-(.
I can never understand why some people think their way is the only way. Why can't people just live and let live!?

I think you've done correctly to just sit and hear all that crap without doing anything (boy, that must have been hard). It really would have served no purpose saying anyting, they sure wouldn't change their minds and appolegize to you.
Another thought on the staying or leaving issue (and I know that if I were in your shoes, I too would be in a real big dilema about it) is that if you leave because of anti gayness, then aren't you doing the same but reverse?

qweirdutah said...

I'm just a lurker but I feel compelled to comment. I was in a similar situation many years ago and while it wasn't that divisive (gays/cages etc) it was bad. And what I did was take the person aside later and mention that I (at the time) considered myself a private and non-political person which is why I had never told him my sexual orientation but that I wanted to tell him now because of the hurtful things he said in front of me. I made it clear that I didn't expect him to change his attitude at all, but I did expect his behavior while in front of me to be more respectful. He complied.
And honestly, he had no idea I was gay. And over the next several years his attitude has changed and he contributes much of this shift to actually knowing a gay person. I'm not saying this is what you should do, but I do think that in my situation he knew me and liked me and I think it was good for him to have to reconcile that with my sexual orientation.
No easy answers certainly...

cmay said...

That must have been so hard for you.
You are amazing.
You have real class.
And I'm proud to know you.