Chasten Buttigieg shared on Twitter the horror he felt when publicly confronted about his sexuality by a supervisor at work. The story inspired many of his followers to tell their own frightening stories of having to choose between keeping their job or staying in the closet. Buttigieg noted that in many places, at the time, it would have been legal for his employer to fire him for being LGBTQ+, and he used the experience to call for passage of the Equality Act.
“I’ll never forget when an assistant manager found out I was gay in the break room, marched out onto the floor, came right up to my face and said ‘wait, is it true you’re a f**?’” Buttigieg recalled in the tweet.
He then went on to ask what might have happened if his manager “didn’t like” his sexuality, noting that “at the time, it would have been legal in far too many places in America for them to simply” fire him for being gay. Buttigieg did not reveal the specifics of where he was working at the time.
“It is time to codify true equality for LGBTQ people and pass the #EqualityAct.” Buttigieg concluded.
The Equality Act is a proposed bill that would amend existing law to explicitly prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill recently passed the House, but faces an uncertain future in the Senate. President Joe Biden had promised to pass the landmark piece of legislation in the first 100 days of his administration while campaigning last October, but had to temper those expectations upon taking office while focusing efforts on the vaccine rollout. Biden signed a historic memo protecting LGBTQ+ rights last month, and promised further efforts to pass the Equality Act.
Buttigieg’s personal story inspired others to tell their experiences of being confronted with one’s sexuality at work.
One person revealed his shift manager suggested he should kill himself after learning he was gay.
Not all the stories were bad, though. One user posted an uplifting story of how his father had responded to his assistant who came out to him at work.
“My dad asked if this would affect his typing,” the commenter wrote.
When the assistant “laughed and said no,” the man’s father replied simply “so lets get back to work.”
If only all employers were so enlightened.