What work place discrimination for the LGBT communities is really like
“Out at Work”, a poignant film made in 1996, documents the stories of three individuals navigating the working world as out gay people. It is both in the very ordinariness of the principal subjects, in tandem with the extraordinary courage and determination they demonstrate in simply being open about their sexuality, that sustains the film’s narrative power. Through three dramatic personal stories, the film dramatizes the fact that in most American states, you can be fired because of your sexual orientation.“Out at Work” film by Kelly Anderson and Tami Gold; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and was broadcast on HBO and won a Best Documentary of the Year award from GLAAD.
I watched this movie, and I was speechless, shocked, and so revolted by the vicious, self-righteous, disgusting prejudice against gays that so many people felt comfortable expressing. This film tells three stories of discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. It deepened my thinking on the subject of LGBT work place discrimination much more because this film documented stories of real life people not just a story that you heard from a friend.
The first story deals with Cracker Barrel’s 1988 Policy that all gay workers would be fired. The story centers on a lesbian in the south who had worked for them for number of years as a cook. The people of her “community” were taped saying things like gay people shouldn’t be able to work in a restaurant. When she was fired, she went to Queer Nation who helped her publicize her story. Their actions resulted in the largest boycott of a business ever related to sexual orientation issues.
The second story deals with the blatant hazing of a new trainee at Cantor Fitzgerald (L.A.) when it was learned that he was gay. The hazing went so far as to include posting nudie picture with the trainee’s head pasted on and even to professionally repainting his car with sexual epithets. Making this all the more blatant was a video that was produced of the hazing that was shown at a national conference.
The third story deals with a third generation autoworker that was employed at Chrysler. Two bosses, Bill Rice and Sean Blakesly, were bright college educated men who should have learned better somewhere along the way. These “educated” men were offenders who abused a gay worker in the most horrifying ways. They made a video in which they wore paper bags over their heads decorated with a black man’s face, and an Asian man’s face, why didn’t they just wear Klan hoods and admit what they really are? Then proceeded to ridicule the gay employee. They then steak his car and paint it over with horrifying anti-gay slogans. This movie was shown at a training session and this poor man had to sit there with others and watch it! This is just one of many horrifying things they did. I was stunned; I couldn’t believe educated people were acting like this. The rage I felt towards those men and the while he encountered rampant prejudice was terrible. He was able to make some progress in educating some folks and even was successful in getting some anti-discrimination language added to the Union contract wordings. The sympathy I felt for their victim is difficult to described.
“Out at Work” Dir. Kelly Anderson, Tami Gold. Anderson/Gold films, Jun 1997. Documentary.