Five Things to Never Say to Gay People

Recently I saw this article on the Diversity Inc website titled “5 Things Never to Say to Blacks” (link) and it inspired me to write my “Five Things Never to Say to Gay People.” In fact, I already created a power point chart with that title that I often use when I present LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) diversity sessions. (Link to a 2 minute video of me presenting this topic)

Here are my five:

1. Referring to my sexual orientation as my sexual preference or as my lifestyle. Being gay is who I am, not a preference I chose. It is at the core of my being. Always use the correct term “sexual orientation.”

2. Calling my spouse or “significant other” my pal or my room-mate, and therefore minimalizing or insulting my 21-year committed relationship. In fact now in several states and DC, same gender partners can legally marry, so even husband or wife may be the preferred terms. Best action is to always ask your gay friend how they like their life partner referred as.

3. Using certain charged words like queer, dyke or faggot unless you have built a level or trust or closeness with me.

4. Giving me that platitude that you “love me, you love the sinner but hate the sin” and you assume that

There are many churches and faith organizations that fully affirm LGBT people.

There are many churches and faith organizations that fully affirm LGBT people.

all LGBT people are faithless heathens. First, I do not agree that being gay is a sin – it is the way God made me. And second, there are many LGBT people of deep faith and many churches that are totally affirming of LGBT people.

5. Attributing broad societal issues such as AIDS or child molestation to the gay community. AIDS is a human disease, not a gay disease. More heterosexual people are now infected with the HIV virus than gay people. And the occurrence of child molestation among heterosexual and the gay population is proportionate to the population.

One other point to address. Being a gay man does not mean that I secretly wanted to be a woman, and a lesbian

The high profile gender transition of Chas Bono (born daughter and now son of Sonny and Cher) did a lot to raise the visibility of transgender equality.

The high profile gender transition of Chaz Bono (born daughter and now son of Sonny and Cher) did a lot to raise the visibility of transgender equality.

does not secretly want to be a man. Sexual orientation refers to the gender of the person I am attracted to; heterosexuals are attracted to people of the opposite gender, gays and lesbians are attracted to people of their own gender, and bisexuals are attracted to people of both genders. When a person feels they are not living within their current biological gender (such as Chas Bono), that falls under the transgender, or gender identity, umbrella. Click here to connect to a longer article on transgenderism which I authored.

Bottom line summary – the best bet in interacting with LGBT people is to all be respectful and not afraid to ask questions.

Essential Career Development: How HR Can Lead the Way to a Renewed Economy via Passionately Engaged Employees

What a provocative title for the February TSHM (Triangle Society for Human Resource Management, one of the local SHRM chapters I belong to) monthly meeting! Since my innovative career road mapping processes for organizations is one of my core consulting offerings, and since I wrote my last blog (link) about protecting an organization’s largest investment (people) via career planning, I knew I had to attend this session.

The speaker was Karen Tax (link to her business website), who after spending 15 years as a software engineer, returned to school to get her masters in Organizational

Karen Tax, Founder of Karen Tax and Associates, providing consulting and coaching services

Karen Tax, Founder of Karen Tax and Associates, providing consulting and coaching services

Development and then changed her career direction. She has spent her last 12 years as a self-employed coach and consultant, including launching a successful online career development community called “IAM Career SMART!” ™.

From the session I realized that Karen’s approach is very different from my career mapping process, but with her focus on connecting corporate career leadership to individual learning and coaching, our work is quite synergistic. Here are the key learnings I took away from this February 28th session:

• That employee productivity, which can lead to organizational success and a renewed economy, is at its maximum when employees are truly passionately engaged. The results we should be aiming for in terms of passionate employees are people who are empowered, entrepreneurial, authentic and leaders. And yes, leaders are needed at all levels of an organization.

• The biggest issue keeping employees from being passionately engaged is fear, which fosters risk aversion, mediocrity, status quo, disengagement, stress, limited thinking, health issues, impatience, rigidity and powerlessness.

• The antidote to fear is a corporate and HR strategy that is based on values, strengths, motivations and passions. By focusing on a love-based model instead of fear, we each can become our essential best.

• Real change or shifts in our way of thinking can inspire possibilities, ignite passions and change behaviors from the inside out. This can then connect our employee’s best within themselves to our organizational goals, resulting in maximum individual and corporate performance.

So what is the bottom line in what I took away? A critical component that HR needs to provide within a career development framework is to help each employee connect their passions to the organizational goals such that both the employee and the organization truly achieve their best.