Friday, November 8, 2013

Living Honestly In All Of Lives

Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
   and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
   and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
   will not make your voice heard on high.
But this is the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of injustice,
   to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke.
                                    -Isaiah 58: 3b-4, 6-7

I understand the concept of a professional persona. When I work for a company there are expectations about how I carry myself because when I am on the job I am a representative of the company. If my job is high profile then I might rarely get a chance to place aside this persona. The expectations can be beyond taxing for anyone.

In some cases, however, the professional persona is not simply a more professional rendition of the person’s self but a set of half-truths, misdirections, and outright lies. In such cases the professional persona is no longer at points taxing but inherently caustic. This caustic reality is the day to day on the job reality for many members of the LGBTQ community throughout the United States.

To be clear I do not want coffee break conversations to be about the sex lives of my coworkers… I simply want to have the same freedom to talk about friends and loved ones that every one else has. I do not want to be able to come to work in the most scandalous outfit ever… I simply want to be able to dress professionally as the gender my doctor references on my health forms. I do not want my personal life to be the center of all workplace concerns… I simply want my professional persona to be a truthful expression of my personal life.

The sad reality is that so often myself and many of the LGBTQ community do not have this ability to be truthful if we want to be employed. The base reason for this is that many people cannot respond professionally to a man saying “my husband took me out to a wonderful anniversary dinner last night” or a female coworker with a baritone vocal register and so they have decided that “professional” involves neither of those realities. The personal sacrifices individuals must make to become professional, the fasting we take up from our personal lives when we enter the workplace, are not equal and are, in fact, oppressive for many.

The Senate, in passing ENDA, has decided that they will no longer allow some to feast while others fast. There is understandable concern that it will not move in the House. The question now before the House is whether they will continue to fast in a way that makes them morally comfortable by perpetuating oppression on others or will they choose a true fast, a true professionalism, that requires all members of a company to respond to each other in a professional way. The vote of each Representative will, in the end, define how professional they truly are.

If you have not already, please contact your representative in Congress and ask her or him to support support ENDA. This is a useful tool to find their contact information:
For all of us who seek for our professional personas to be a truthful expression of our personal lives it is still a time to rejoice. It is no longer just the oppressed crying for justice but those who arbitrate justice calling for an end to oppression. Now we must pray that our work together can truly make justice ring out across the land.

-Benjamin Garren, Integrity Contributor 

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