Friday, 28 October 2016

An Apology


Someone I know, came out to me as gay recently.
She dropped the fact into the conversation as causally as you like, but both of us knew it was done anything but casually.
I picked the information up carefully.
I will say no more about her, it's not my place to
But I was asked ( eventually) how I coped with bigotry or discrimination in the workplace.

I told her this story.
Many years ago now I was the nurse representative in a weekly rehabilitation multidisciplinary meeting. Present was a cross section of the great and the good. 2 medical consultants, a social worker, a consultant psychologist, junior doctors, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and a student nurse in training . Every professional knew the other very well and the forum was often a lively but honest collection of minds.
As we were wrapping up the meeting one consultant ( a man I admire to this day) made an off the cuff remark about a general discussion of being disappointed as a parent by one of your children. Unthinkingly he shared that the ultimate disappointment would be for him, if one of his children came out gay.
The psychologist sitting opposite to me opened her eyes very wide and gave me a look, as did several of the other staff, but as the consultant went on, I said nothing, got up quietly, with my papers and walked out of the room.
I needed to process what I had just heard.

I wasn't angry but I was disappointed and moments later , as I stood at the nurses station with a good half dozen staff, the consultant appeared in front of us.
" I need to speak to you" He said to me carefully
" Go ahead" I told him as all of the staff pretended to be doing things just within earshot.
He indicated with his head that I follow him towards my office but I didn't move and said
" We can talk here"
I wondered what was going to be said , so I was totally surprised when he  unexpectedly gave me the most eloquent and moving apology I have ever received in my life.

Apparently after I had left the room, his fellow consultants and others had rounded on him.

There was a reason that I remembered this event to my friend.
Not only was it the only " discrimination problem" I ever experienced in my entire career,
It was one that I didn't have to battle myself.
I had a whole raft of people behind me.



55 comments:

  1. Beautiful friends. As it should be.

    And hopefully the consultant that day learned that being gay is not a disease, but a human right.

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  2. Many years ago when homosexuality was illegal I can imagine I would have been worried if one of my children had been gay. I can't imagine ever being disappointed in my children, though when they were younger I knew a lot of very competitive parents who looked down on my kids as they weren't high achievers academically.

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  3. Wow. Kudos to both of you.

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  4. Your heart is good and you are full of beautiful stories that make me cry and reinforce my faith in the human race.

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  5. When my daughter told me she was gay (which is a wonderful lovely word of such happiness) I was upset. Not by the fact she was telling me she was gay, I love and adore her she has the best heart of anyone I know) but at the way people would act towards her. The small unknowing acts of discrimination to the larger ones.
    Near where she was going to University, at that time, a woman was beaten and raped because she was gay.
    Daughter being a woman and a gay woman I have always had some Mum concerns about her as one does of all of your children.
    Everyone is the same inside and out skin, bones, lungs and heart. It is what we do with our lives, how we live them, that makes a difference.
    You have a great circle of friends.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Dear Parsnip, you and my mum had a similar reaction to the news that your daughter is gay. Her overriding concern was for my safety, not my sexual orientation. She couldn't bear the thought of people attacking me, judging me, or even being 'mean' to me. Her worry was that my life would be harder, and that she couldn't protect me. If you are like my mum, you are one of the best...
      Cheers,
      e

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    2. awwwww I think we are the lucky ones to have strong daughters gay or not.

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  7. That's wonderful to be supported by your colleagues so well. It's also wonderful that the man was able to open his heart to understand his mistake and try to put it right. Not everyone gets to have either one of those things, let alone both.

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  8. I find this story very heartening John and if there is one thing to be learned from it I would say that as the man obviously knew you quite well it might have changed his view of being gay somewhat.
    I did once ask my gay friends whether they had ever suffered any discrimination and they said no.

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  9. Wonderful story, and having co-workers backing you is even better.

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  10. Hi-ya. Long time no see. (Oh, you know what I mean.) That smooching picture kept popping up on my dashboard, and I simply couldn't resist paying you a visit to get the rest of the story. I'm glad I did. You brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad you haven't been plagued with a bunch of ugly discrimination, and that you have such wonderful friends to stand up for you.

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  11. How very nice that she did feel comfortable enough to share with you. You are an excellent example of someone who handles himself with grace under very trying circumstances.

    BTW....se-hexy! vid there, thanks for that too :)

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  12. Every damn one of us needs an advocate at some point in our lives and who among us has not had the honor of being an advocate for someone else?

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    1. Brilliant point, Ms Moon.

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  13. Being childless has resulted in situations for me like you describe. I have never found anyone who thought it necessary to give an apology though.

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  14. Another fucking 1.5 second repeating movie clip for a header photo! Anymore of this and I will have to stop following, never mind the subject matter.

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    1. By the look of my followers you and someone just did

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    2. What's wrong with repeating movie clips? I'm flummoxed. Perhaps they take up too much data.

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  15. Ultimate disappointment? What if one's child turned out to be a murderer, a thief, a terrorist, a rapist, an arsonist, a self-harmer, a schizophrenic, a vegetarian, a banker or worse still a Tory!

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    1. This vegetarian disappointed her parents.

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    2. Or an unapologetic joker? ...

      I do hope you were joking about the last few, YP!

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    3. I remember a few years back when, I think, there was talk about equalising the age of homo- and hetero- consent, a man (just a 'Joe Public' on the street) interviewed on the radio said he'd rather have a son who was a serial killer than a gay son. The very fact that he could say so publicly says tons about that person - as well as about society. I also wondered how many people thought the same way but kept it to themselves. I suspect that the stronger reason why such people could feel this way is that they would rather not face 'ridicule' from others themselves, even though there's no grounds for believing that they would (though they'd always be wondering what other people thought even if left unsaid), rather than defending their own offspring.

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  16. I am so pleased that your friends/colleagues stood up for you. And almost equally pleased that the consultant was able to admit he was wrong. Not an easy thing.

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  17. As long as the child is healthy and happy, that's the most that I could ask for.

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  18. That you received such a good apology is great, but that doesn't mean his mind was changed, or was it?

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    1. I doubt it but I was never unsure that he did not respect me as a nurse

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  19. I'm glad to hear that you got a good apology and also had the support of the rest of the staff. Hard to believe that someone as well-educated as the consultant could say something that idiotic.

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  20. I am so glad to have found your thoughtful and cheerful site.

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  21. Happy you had this story, John, to share with your friend.

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  22. A thoughtless remark, and very thoughtful coworkers. I have said a few things over the decades that I was surprised came out of my mouth.

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  23. So nice to know people have your back!

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  24. What a nice story- thank you!

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  25. A wonderful story John, it had me in tears. How many generations will it take, do you think, before families will worry about the important things - like whether their children are happy and well adjusted, rather than their orientation?

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  26. I wonder if he apologised to you because he wanted to, or because he was forced? Probably the latter.

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  27. I'm glad there was an apology. He at least had the courage for that. And, maybe, he had the opportunity to examine his unfounded opinions and maybe rethink some things. One must always hope...
    xoxoxo

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  28. I was at the Mr Gay Wellington contest last Sunday and at each round the 8 contestants were asked a question. Round 3's question was, "what do you think is a big issue facing the [gay] community" and several answered the same way, that even in a city as cool as ours, idiots still felt it was ok to hurl abuse at people who were different on the street. yup. Ironically as one of a few people who went up to street level for a breath of smoky air during a break, we got hassled by a group of drunk idiots. I raised my voice and just let rip, "Oh just FUCK OFF!!" This resulted in one of the group coming over to apologise and have a chat - clearly he was out of his comfort zone but he made an effort and walked away on good terms. I am too old and have had too much steet abuse hurled at me over the years for being fat, not gay) to let this kind of thing go any more!

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  29. wow... lovely story. We're lucky people to be surrounded by love.x

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  30. When you love...you love. There can be no conditions put upon it.

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  31. Nice to have friends that care like that.

    Funny how some folks have limits on love, you know? Gay child? Can't love him/her, etc.

    MissFifi

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  32. Stories like this break my heart and make me glad that my children at very young ages, were loved , cared for and entertained by a whole group of insanely funny, kind, "motherly", gay men.

    Due to my husbands business, he knew a lot of gay men and they all became friends. Lucky me to be welcomed into that group.
    One of them, Sebastian, would link arms with me as we walked down 3rd Ave in NYC and say silly things about shopping, "just us girls" and he would have me and everyone around him laughing til they cried with his mimicking of famous women .. while we shopped. No quiet subtle gay men in my life :)

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  33. Friend you are . . .
    And the ". . . raft of people. . ."
    Thanks for this . . .

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  34. I suspect he learnt a valuable lesson that day, and you learnt how many good friends you had among your colleagues.

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  35. I find it amazing that someone could think that an ultimate disappointment would be that their child came out as gay. If you break that down - 1. It is the first thing that comes into their mind (my admit I don't often think about whether people are gay/straight/bi/or whatever - I also don't thi about whether they like Brussels sprouts or not - it is not relevant. 2. The disappointment was that the child came out as gay - not that they were gay. This makes no sense. "I would prefer my child to live his/her life as a lie, or denying themselves of the opportunity to have a loving sexual relationship"

    Mostly, I find it amazing that this would be someone's first thought.

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  36. Wow, that just moved me to tears. Love you Cous xx

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  37. -glad you had them on your side.x

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  38. What a powerful story and how fortunate you were. I wish I can say that my professional experiences were similar, but I think our difference in age had a lot to do with it. Having always been out, proud, and diplomatic at work, I often felt like I was carrying the banner wherever I went. Addressing insensitive statements like the one your colleague made, standing up to assholes for myself an others. Times got better until my last 4 years of work. My company was purchased by an Ohio-based company that seemed to be locked in self-ritieous 1950s America. I thought I had done with institutionalized ignorance and insensitivity and then along came THAT job! So happy to be done with it... and to be here in our home in Spain. (Sorry I went on so long.)

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  39. Good that so many of his colleagues stuck up for you and told him his comments were out of order. And good that he accepted he had put his foot in it and promptly gave you a fulsome apology.

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  40. My brother, who came out to me about a decade ago, is a surgeon. When he decided to tell his co-workers and colleagues about his orientation, the general reaction was, "Yeah? So what?" and that was the end of it. Things have changed.

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  41. I'm reminded of a story I heard in a documentary of the pore-stonewall years. A young lesbian woman was harassed my some men before walking into an early covert "gay" bar. When they found out why she was upset, the patrons ran out to confront the guys.

    She further burst into tears because as she said:"It was the first time anyone ever stood up for me."

    That story always sticks with me.

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