I’m working on an email for a co-worker and they’re standing over me while I was editing in Photoshop and they say “Take that out, it looks gay.”
“What?” I am aghast.
“Oh come on,” they said as if to say We’re cool! You and I can use ‘gay’ like that!
“WHAT?” I said louder.
“I guess I meant ‘stupid’.”
I got up from my desk and left them there alone in my cubicle, “What? What is it Ted?” hitting me in the back of the head as I stormed off. I got half way down to HR before calming down enough to realize I need to confront this person first before going crying to someone.
So I did.
I took them outside and said “If I ever hear you say that again in a derogatory manner, I will have you in HR’s office so fast your head will spin.”
“But my uncle is gay!”
The flood gates burst open. I went into a rant saying they just disrespected my family as well as their own. Their eyes wide, I went on to explain exactly why using ‘gay’ that way was demeaning to a large part of my life. I said I wasn’t militant, but I would ask that they refrained from using ‘gay’ in reference to ‘stupid’ things. I finished by saying I could not believe they had reduced our office to high school playground proportions. I was shaking mad by the end of it.
We talked more and we’re cool. This co-worker looked like a deer in headlights when I left them.