I Quit My Job Because My Boss Was Homophobic

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Like many “starving artist” types, I’ve worked a lot of side jobs. But no matter what I’m doing, I always try to find the positive in it. With bartending, it was easy. I enjoyed listening to the woes of strangers, and the science and creativity that goes into a well-crafted cocktail. I had fun making my own playlists to work to, and the sense of community I found in my regular customers made the scent of stale beer on my jeans oddly comforting. But something happened during my last gig that challenged my ability to see the good in everything.

Last spring, on one of my days off, I brought my then-girlfriend into my workplace to meet some of my friends and colleagues. We threw back a few drinks, had a great time, and she got the seal of approval from everyone who met her. But a few days later, during a busy shift, my boss surprised me with this curveball: “Natasha, can I ask you a question?” 

“Sure,” I replied. 

“Do you still like guys?” he asked.

I understand that this would normally be a weird thing for a boss to ask, but we had known each other for a few years through a friend circle, so I answered, “Yeah.”

“Oh, that’s good,” he said. 

I was taken aback, and paused before blurting, “What?”

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“Well, you’re really pretty, and charming, and a hard worker.” I stared blankly and blinked a few times until he followed with, “It would just be a shame if you were gay.”

Completely stunned, I stared in silence as he continued to ramble.

“I just believe in procreation,” said a man who hasn’t seen his son in years.

“You do understand that having children has nothing to do with a person’s sexuality, right?” (I don’t even know why I bothered to ask when clearly he didn’t.)

“I just don’t believe in gayness,” he stated as if we were discussing the tooth fairy.

It took every ounce of my patience to hold in my temper, as to not scare off customers. Then I calmly, but sternly, replied: “I’m going to go outside for a moment and compose myself so I can  do my job, but that’s really fucked up.” 

The next day, I told the other bar owners (his business partners) what had happened. I explained that I didn’t want to screw them over, but I simply could not work for a homophobe. I put in my two weeks notice, and they sent an apology on his behalf, but I never got one from him.

Instead, during my last shift, he told people that I was leaving because I hated him. The truth is, I don’t hate anyone, but I made it clear that I think he is ignorant and that I didn’t want to work in an environment where I felt unsafe bringing my partner around.

At first, I questioned whether or not quitting was the right choice. I wondered if by giving up, I let him win. But in the end, he lost his “pretty, charming, hard-working” staff member. And as word about the incident made its way around the neighborhood, people stopped going to the bar. So many in fact, that the place eventually went under only a few months later. Yeah. Karma’s a bitch.

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And now, I am happy to report that one of my former colleagues and her friend have taken over the spot. She is bisexual, and her sister is gay, so now it flourishing as a new hub for queer people and our allies. Yeah. Karma’s fantastic. 

(If you, or anyone you know, has experienced homophobia or biphobia in the workplace then I encourage you to leave a comment below. It’s disgusting and unacceptable, but you have a community that loves you.)

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