Gone are the days when we should be required to educate every person on our lives, our rights

 

Gary BellomyFlorists, cake decorators, event planners and the rest of the rabble need to provide services for the entire public, regardless of their clients’ sexual orientation. There’s no requirement to like the individuals. The vendors are not being asked to get in bed with the clients.

To rephrase: Get over it and bake the damn cake. Take the money. End of transaction. Move on.

Done in a professional manner, chances are the transaction will be forgotten in six months. The homo being helped will probably recommend the business to others. That’s future money to be made.

That’s called commerce, and it’s good business. I do it all the time. I provide services for a lot of people I do not like. I even smile and behave courteously.

It’s also called being a big grownup. Living in a secular society requires that. The United States is one of those secular societies, by the way.

That said, I do — in some obscure way — give credit to these misguided business Neanderthals who want to refuse to serve gays because their religion says homosexuality is wrong. They are ultimately destroying their own enterprise; that’s their choice.

They are also laying their prejudices out there for public scrutiny and condemnation; I can work with that. They are transparent in their hatred; I can avoid them. I can bring civil action against them in many instances.

There is, however, a subtler form of business discrimination against LGBTQ people that transpires daily. It has been going on throughout the entire history of this country and continues today unabated. I’m referring to the mistreatment of this community by the service agents of most industry providers.

This is the type of discrimination I find the most repugnant. These daily, necessary transactions allow a hetero-normative world view to be inflicted upon LGBTQ people. Even now in 2017, when gay visibility is at quite an advanced stage, we are still forced to explain to the seemingly-clueless service agent that two men (or two women) really can share a bank account, insurance policy, water bill — on and on and on, into exhausting eternity.

A transgender woman required to give a full testimonial when asking to have the gender marker changed on her driver’s license seems excessive. Being forced to give yet another GAY 101 course to the truly uninformed service rep that is at some point becoming annoyed that he/she must be subjected to the information is unacceptable. All of this, so you can add HBO to your cable lineup.

I have been in gay relationships for 45 years; 45 years ago, it seemed my responsibility to establish a bridge of understanding with every straight

individual I encountered. We were changing the world. We were sharing our unique reality and, in turn, finding acceptance.

The years rolled past. And picking up the phone and requesting service from A-B-C-D company — you pick — never got any easier.

Today, I still must reveal my private life to nearly every service provider. I’m weary. Most times, it’s early morning. I’m barely showered, unshaved, and not sufficiently caffeinated. Each time. A naive part of me expects a smooth conversation.

Are these workers really this uninformed? Again, it’s 2017. Have they not noticed that we LGBTQ people are a quite visible part of the social fabric?

Have our struggles, our gains and losses escaped their attention?

I call a big, resounding BULLSHIT!!!

I think most of these people are very aware of our existence, but of two similar mindsets: They are either unable to diverge long enough from their hetero narrative to perform adequately as a customer representative, or they want to deny us any semblance of dignity.

They make us struggle to receive a competent and respectful level of service. They know exactly what game they are playing. And their companies allow both kinds of bad behavior to go unchecked by not addressing our concerns.

I no longer have the endurance required to deliver yet another GAY 101. I have delivered my fair share over the years. I have been tolerant. I have been respectful.

But now, in this day and age, I expect reciprocity. I am a gay man that has paid my phone bill. I expect companies to have representatives that accept diversity. Not gaining that basic level of service today, I demand to speak to a supervisor. I also investigate and find LGBT-identified agents of corporations and take my business to them.

Do not accept second-rate treatment. You are a paying customer that deserves the same level of competency and professionalism afforded to everyone. Demand it.

Gary Bellomy is a longtime Dallas activist working on issues of LGBT equality, HIV/AIDS services and family violence prevention. He is a war resister and a Trump resister.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 1, 2017.