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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I already confronted my homophobic co-worker today and ended up quitting my internship/volunteer position but I feel the need to get feedback on whether I could handle things better.

I'll try to keep this short. I changed careers recently and I started an internship in a tiny agency. One of my acquintances' fiance recently opened an office and was looking for employees and I offered to be an intern over there. I told him my main purpose was to learn about the new field. At first it was only me and him, 1 month later he hired a junior. When I asked about the duration of the internship he told me I could stay as long as I wanted (it was an unpaid internship with weekly commute and lunch money) but after only 1 month he suddenly told me he couldn't afford me anymore and that I wasn't very useful to him. I was shocked at first but then composed myself and offered to keep coming to the office to still learn something for 1 more month. I still had some remaining commute money and he had given me a small money gift on New Year's Eve. So basically I volunteered to go there after the 1st month using the extra commute money and the gift money. Fast forward to yesterday I came across the junior's homophobic tweet. It said being gay is like being happy, it is a choice and that's why they have the same meaning. So the first thing in the morning I did was to confront him about it which the boss didn't appreciate. I asked if the junior had any proof to back up his "being gay is a lifestyle" argument. He said he didn't need any proof. He also said it was a mental illness and I promptly reminded him that homosexuality was removed from mental illness category in 1980. Then I completely came out at work and said his tweet was offensive and hurtful to me. Then the boss took me aside and said everyone was entitled their own opinion, that he had gay friends and told me I was overreacting. I told him that having gay friends is not the same thing as seeing gays as equals and he could never know what we go through unless he walked in our shoes. Basically I was punished for acting harsh to his beloved junior (the boss always liked the junior while I received the step sister treatment) while the junior got away with saying my orientation is actually a choice. The boss seemed to be annoyed with my attitude rather than my sexual orientation. So I got out never to go back. I didn't insult the junior in any way but I admit I was harsh. Living in a homophobic muslim country is hard enough for me, it is a struggle for me everyday but what would you do if you were me? How would you voice your opinion or do you have any similar stories like this? Because I know I may face these issues in the future again whether I'm over here or in the US (I have a dual citizenship) so I'd like to improve my attitude. Even though I'm an ISTP I get very emotional sometimes and knowing there are no laws to protect LGBT people in this country makes me more emotional.

Anyway, thanks for reading.
 

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What were you hoping to get from confronting the junior? Are you wanting to claim that homophobia should be a crime? That seems to be the attitude from reading your post which may well be your intention though if it isn't then I'd be careful about how strongly you word things here.

While you claim you didn't insult the junior, some could interpret the confrontation as an insult or at least drawing unwanted attention to the person. If someone comes over to me and asks for an explanation of something I said that wasn't necessarily aimed at someone specific that can cause all kinds of misunderstanding. At least that would be the caution I'd point out to you here.

Living in a homophobic muslim country is hard enough for me, it is a struggle for me everyday but what would you do if you were me? How would you voice your opinion or do you have any similar stories like this?
I'd probably consider my options, what is to be gained from various courses of action and proceed accordingly.

While it isn't quite the same thing, I do have stories of where I've been offended in workplaces that were more than a little annoying.

In one case, there was an e-mail at work that asked for those who have limited mobility to identify themselves so that they could have separate evacuation plans in case of fire. Now, at the time I had an aircast on one of my feet and was a bit of a slow walker that really couldn't do the 4 flights of stairs it would be to get out as fast as a normal person could. Thus, I'd claim I was disabled and did have a disability parking spot at work so I suppose this would just be the obvious thing to go and do. Anyway, a plan is hatched for me to have different instructions on what to do when there is a fire. A few days later comes the fire drill and as it happens there weren't details given about what to do other than wait. So, after 20 minutes and feeling rather panicky about it, the buddies that were with me as I wasn't to be left alone here and I just went back to work. While it got joked about that we'd have died if there was a fire, I didn't really like that. I didn't speak up about the joking but I did follow up with a safety manager because my anxiety did get up enough that I wasn't comfortable in that situation. I did voice my concerns though I'm not sure there was much that could be done.

In another case, I started falling asleep during the day at work out of the blue. I got a verbal warning but didn't see a doctor at that point and when it happened again I was to be written up this time about it. Rather than state that this is a medical condition that should be accommodated that I would do now, I tried to swallow that it would be handled and wouldn't happen again. After a couple of days of not getting the warning, I posted some thoughts on a forum that someone from work read and I got a couple month break from work to get some of my problems resolved. Some got resolved better than others but I did run back into some issues again. I would handle some things differently now if I got into a similar situation.
 

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"What were you hoping to get from confronting the junior?"
An apology.

"Are you wanting to claim that homophobia should be a crime?"
Did I say something like that anywhere in my post or do you have a wild imagination?
 

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I can understand your frustration. I have often wondered what it would be like to live in an very homophobic environment. I've always heard that Turkey is one of Asia's most "gay-friendly" countries, but I am sure it is still no where near as tolerant than most places in the US. So, I think confronting your co-worker was very brave. At the same time, however, I do think you over reacted. Internally, you have every right to be frustrated, but the work place is just not the right place for an argument about this particular topic. If the issue had been that you had been harassed for you sexuality or something, then that's definitely a problem. Since the guy wrote his opinion on Twitter, however, and didn't insult you directly, I think bringing it up at work is kind of uncalled for.

I can't say for certain what I would have done in your situation, but I guess I would have just kept silent. Obviously, I would have a grudge against that junior. I would silently hate him and know to ignore him at all costs, but I don't think I'd have said anything to my boss about it.
 

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"What were you hoping to get from confronting the junior?"
An apology.

"Are you wanting to claim that homophobia should be a crime?"
Did I say something like that anywhere in my post or do you have a wild imagination?
Was the tweet a reply or direct message to you? If it wasn't then I don't see how junior owes you an apology. Isn't he free to have his own opinions? Freedom of speech does go both ways in that while you have the freedom to express your side, junior has the freedom to express his side.

As for the second question, the idea here is where is the line. I can understand how intentionally bullying someone for their sexual orientation is wrong and should be punished, sure. However, if someone wants to have a homophobic opinion that is in general expressing a view that isn't commonly held, that could well be a protected to some degree I'd argue. In confronting him so quickly and with what seems like some tenacity, I just wonder how far are you going in this and do you realize what you did? Thus, I can wonder if you'd have the view of whether or not homophobic people should be locked up. While I concede there is some inferring in my post to reach that conclusion, that is why the thought is posed as a question rather than a statement. Hopefully that clarifies things from my perspective here.
 

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What that junior did was immature on many levels. However, directly confronting him probably wasn't the best solution. Now hear me out, I'm with you one hundred percent on your views. While I am not part of the LGBTQ community I am part of a Gay Straight Alliance at my school which invites everyone to support and educate each other on this issue.

Instead I would probably report the post to twitter or something to get him to stop insulting people on the internet. Then I wouldn't say anything to him and just keep it to myself. That way you make him stop what he's doing while keeping your job.

In any case, the past is the past and I'm glad you stood up for yourself. You can always learn from your mistakes. Just keep your head up and move on.
 
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Sometimes staying silent hurts more than the consequences of speaking out. I believe that you are the very best judge of whether this course of action was best for you. No one else can know the precise balance of harm from silence versus harm from speaking up for you. Only you know that.

Homophobia takes a toll. Silence in the face of it takes a toll. Speaking out about it often yields backlash, this is true. We have so many opinions even within our communities about when and how and if it's appropriate to speak up.

So my question to you is, how did it really feel to you to break that silence? If it was more helpful to you than harmful to you, I say it was the right choice. If not, I suggest clarifying the harms related to the different courses of action, and looking at how you could have moved so as to minimize the negative impact on you (and remember, I believe that staying silent can, for some of us, cause its own harm, and I think that this is something straight people may not understand at all).
 

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Does Turkey have anti-discrimination policies? I know it's one of the more "Westernized" Muslim countries, but my knowledge of the government and culture is rather limited. In the United States, publishing such statements could be grounds for termination, and harassment for sexual orientation, depending on your region, could be considered an offense.

It was totally up to you whether to lecture your junior. Just realize that this person was your authority, and, regardless of his callous, incorrect statement, he was still your authority.

I do believe you'd have a better chance of avoiding discrimination in the States, particularly in the Northeastern and Western regions.
 

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The junior is obviously an idiot, but think of it this way. Say you said 'gay people have the right to adopt and raise children' (which I would heartily agree with). However, what if a traditionalist hearing this responded 'This is a sacrilege to the family, I am shocked and offended by that point of view'. Should you apologise to him for expressing a view which offended him?
 

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@silent warrior

I think confronting him took a lot of courage. I only wish more people were willing to speak out in defense of equality. Even when the promotion of unfair attitudes is done in a subtle way, it should be challenged, and I feel encouraged knowing that people like you exist.
 
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The junior is obviously an idiot, but think of it this way. Say you said 'gay people have the right to adopt and raise children' (which I would heartily agree with). However, what if a traditionalist hearing this responded 'This is a sacrilege to the family, I am shocked and offended by that point of view'. Should you apologise to him for expressing a view which offended him?
You have a point. I certainly wouldn't apologize to him but on the other hand we live in a very oppressive society which looks at homosexuality as a psychological disease and is ok with harming of gays (I'm not in the US). If I was in a more tolerant society this wouldn't phase me out so much but in this case as Snail said we need to let people know that we exist. I accept that I overreacted I little but it is just a pain getting though everyday in a homophobic country. People around me call other people "****" all the time. The word *** is in everyday language. We hear it and we can'/don't say anything. The murder of transgender people are so common newspapers don't even bother to mention those cases anymore. So yeah we can't just keep our silence all the time.
 

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Homophobes need to be called out. And they deserve to have these bigoted opinions called out whenever possible. More people (both members of the LGBTQ community and those of us who just support them) need to stand up and call these pricks out for what they are....period.

Honestly I think being a bigoted prick should be enough reason for somebody to get fired...no place for these people in what's supposed to a civilized/equal/free society that so many of these assholes claim to be a big fan of. It's a shame you had to leave your position because of him.
 

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Homophobes need to be called out. And they deserve to have these bigoted opinions called out whenever possible. More people (both members of the LGBTQ community and those of us who just support them) need to stand up and call these pricks out for what they are....period.

Honestly I think being a bigoted prick should be enough reason for somebody to get fired...no place for these people in what's supposed to a civilized/equal/free society that so many of these assholes claim to be a big fan of. It's a shame you had to leave your position because of him.
This is exactly how I feel. ^^^
 
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