Stories from the community

Anonymous

Having grown up in Lincoln and having spent the majority of my life there, I was thrilled to see the Fairness Ordinance pass. Two weeks later, I was disappointed and saddened to learn that 10,000 Lincoln residents signed a petition saying it's OK to discriminate against one particular minority group. Civil rights should not have to come to a public vote.

Here is my story, and why I think the Fairness Ordinance must be passed:

I'm 30 years old. For 29 years, I was living a lie. I hid the fact that I'm gay from my parents, from my best friends, from my coworkers -- from everybody. I even hid it from myself, even though deep down I've know for a very long time that I'm gay. 

Last year, I finally truly accepted to myself that I'm gay. Since then, I've started to come out. My parents know I'm gay, my best friends know I'm gay. 

It's been a big relief to finally be able to tell my friends and family who I am and be honest to them. But at the same time, it hasn't necessarily made anything easier for me. I'm not out to any of my coworkers or really anybody in the town I currently live in, partially out of a fear of losing my job and partially out of a fear of how I'll be treated. I worry about who may find out I'm gay.

Right now, I'm considering moving back to Lincoln within the next year. I could see myself spending the rest of my life in Lincoln. That being said, if this Fairness Ordinance doesn't pass, if the majority of Lincoln voters think it's OK to discriminate against me because I'm gay, I don't know if I could call Lincoln home again.

One of my friends, who is gay, recently said just because you're not in favor of the fairness ordinance doesn't make you a bigot. With all due respect, you either are extremely misinformed or you simply believe it's OK to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (you're a bigot). Here's hoping the majority of those 10,000 signatures came from people who are misinformed.

This ordinance isn't just about discrimination in the workforce and discrimination when it comes to renting a house or apartment. Indirectly, it's about so much more.

It's about the City of Lincoln telling people, gay and straight, that it's not OK to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It's about sending out a message that it's OK to be who you are. It's about standing up for civil rights. It's about doing the right thing.

Gregory

Hello everyone,
I want you to know about some of my own problems getting a job or keeping a job. I was born a hermaphrodite. I look female to a lot of people but besides having breast I also have some male genitalia. I am considered the 3rd gender in some culture's (androgyny).

I was at a job interview and the guy interviewing said to me that "Gregory was an odd name for a woman" at that time I didn’t know anything about hermaphrodites. I said to him "I am a MAN not a WOMAN!" He turned red and excused himself from the room, and had his secretary come in. To tell me that he had to leave. They would call me if the were interested. I went to use the bathroom before I left. He was at the urinal zipping up. When he turned around and saw me. He looked at the floor. Said sorry and left. When I left the bathroom I looked over at where I was having an interview the secretary saw me and got up and closed his door.

I worked a few temp jobs were I had a few male bosses some were fine others couldn’t work with me because they found me attractive. They were married men I made them feel uneasy. I wasn’t the one man handling there female employees! I was referred to as “IT” when these bosses wanted to get rid of me.

My mother was concerned that so many people thought I was a woman when I turned 23 I was tested to see if there was something genetic wrong with me. The doctor told us that I have “Klinefelter's syndrome” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinefelter's_syndrome
I have xxxy chromosomes.

It’s nice to know why I am discriminated against. I did take testosterone replacement for a while but stopped, I got angry to much.

I did finally found a job, and fear loosing it. The pay is okay & it has benefits.

Karen

I was born and raised in Nebraska and am proud of my ancestors from Denmark who farmed in Nebraska and others who came from England. My grandfather was a NE Dist. Court judge and two of my uncles were lawyers in Lincoln. They are all gone now but I know they would be so dismayed if they found out Lincoln supported discrimination against my son who is gay. My son now lives in another state where he feels more welcome and I'm sure other Nebraskan families suffer similar fates when part of their family feels they must move. 
Nebraska has a lot of offer but we also need to offer freedom from discrimination for all.

Alison

I am a proud Nebraskan, born and raised. In my early 20s, I moved to the west coast in an effort to live in an environment where I could be who I was without fear of losing my job or affecting my safety. I was hired immediately and enjoyed a successful career in which I rose from an entry level position to middle management. Each promotion was based on merit; my work ethic is Nebraskan to the core.

However, I missed my family. I missed my home. And I missed the kind of life Nebraska could offer. In an effort to provide my child with the kind of life I knew at her age, I decided to move back home. And there, the trouble started. My resume was impeccable. My references were glowing. But I could not get hired. At one point, I was told I'd have an easier time finding a job if I looked "less gay."

Please note: I never told any of my interviewers I was gay, nor did I dress "like a lesbian." I was shuffled aside in spite of my qualifications because I was PERCEIVED as gay. This behavior under Nebraska law at this time is perfectly legal.

I got lucky. I found a job, and I excelled. Today, I work for a strong conservative who understands that the gender of the person I love has nothing to do with my productivity in the office. I am blessed.

The Fairness Ordnance is needed not just to protect the LGBT community, but to protect those who may be targeted by their employers based on assumptions and incorrect perceptions.

When I moved here, my friends on the west coast laughed at me; their perception of Lincoln is that it is a community of bigots who are no better than the KKK. We all know this is not true. Now, let's prove it by solidifying employment protections for ALL of our citizens.

Anonymous

I am a bisexual woman and I have a professional job in an office in downtown. I am in a serious, long-term relationship with a woman. Some "friends" at work were not very friendly and started to spread rumors about me and call me names...like that I am dirty, easy, etc., but not in such nice terms. I am afraid to talk to HR or my supervisor because I am not out to everyone and I know I could be fired...and best-case scenario I figure they'd tell me just to get over it. It has definitely affected my work performance.

Janette

I am a Transsexual woman. I started living full time on jan 1st of 2011, 2 days later I had my name changed, and the day after that I started back at the job I had been working at for 4 years, "A busy downtown convenience store".
Literally thousands of people knew me, allot of them knew my name, So I had to come out to allot of people, and try to explain what I was doing, Coming out gets easier after four or five hundred times.
 The company I worked for was supportive, on the surface at the corporate level, but my boss thought it was ok to make jokes about me, and wouldn't allow me to stand up for myself. My co-workers took it upon themselves to out me to everyone they could, without my consent, and treat me as if it were some sort of joke.
 As for the people of Lincoln, I had a few supporters, from the gay community, and a few very open minded people. The rest of the people I dealt with treated me as if I were a freak; some called me names "He-she" "Tranny" etc, to some I was just invisible, a lot just didn't come back in the store. This was all a daily event for me. And then some fool took it upon himself to out me on craigslist in the "Missed connections" section. He titled it "Tranny at the convenience store by the capitol". :( What could I do? That pretty much narrowed it down to me. I heard about the ad from allot of different people, and suddenly late at night when I was working alone the store was full of creepy guys just waiting for a chance to talk to me privately, to tell me what they wanted to do to me. I became very uncomfortable. Gender identity disorder is about gender and identity, not about sex, it doesn't make someone a hooker. I was eventually sexually assaulted at work while on a break.
 I couldn't take it any longer; I needed to come out of this transition with some sort of self respect left. So I moved to Los Angeles, and I am happy, I fit right in. I haven't heard one hateful comment in 9 months.
 I miss Lincoln allot, I wish things would have worked out differently. I was born there, and lived there 36 years. I hope things change there, so the next person who transitions or comes out can do it without having a bunch of ignorant hate thrown at them.

Rebecca

Dear Tyler Richards,

I was employed at a gas station/convenient store. I had worked my way up from associate I to associate II and then on to assistant manager. I had done all the work and studied hard to achieve this level of employment in the company. In October of 2010 I discovered I had always been transgender and came out, my boss Manager 1 flipped out. Saying God had already made her deal with her brother coming out as gay. She felt that she didn't deserve to deal with transgender issues. She became rude, offensive, prying into my personal life and twisting everything I said into some sexual perversion. Then she proceeded spreading lies like gossip around the people we work with. Eventually, claiming she could not work with me, blaming me for not being available. Simply because I felt the need to attend counseling, she reduced my pay rate, status and cut my hours to less than part time. Every time I had a school function for my son she didn't believe me and I had to procure some kind of proof. The company eventually, shut the campus store down and transferred me to a new location, managed by Manager 2. She couldn’t give me any more hours either and used my time at work to pry into my sexual orientation. Asking personal questions about my sexuality on the job. I didn't know how to handle it or answer their intrusive questions so I told them this was not appropriate conversation for work. I wouldn’t answer their questions and this made them upset. Manager 2 wanted to be Face book friends and when I declined she got an attitude.

Both bosses, when I ask for more hours, kept saying and consoling me that they would see what they can do. However, they never scheduled me more than sixteen hours a week; this went on for over a year. Manager 1 upon being transferred to a new store lost all her employees. They wanted me to help Manager 1in a small town nearby. When I had no transportation and I didn’t want to work with her. Manager 2 wanted me to apologize to Manager 1, as if it was my fault she discriminated against me.

Back when they cut my hours, I filed for unemployment. They didn't like that. Wearing me down like slow poison, and made me train my own replacement. I was in over my head with personal expenses, therapy, school issues with my son and lots of bills just trying to make a living. When other employees needed time for their families or for school schedules, they work with them. The bosses wouldn't work with me. They would get an attitude, blame me for making their jobs difficult and just cut my hours, they work with all the other employees schedules.

When my food handlers permit expired in January of 2012, they told me I needed to get it renewed, I didn't have the money. I told them, I suggested we should schedule a time at the office. They have a program for that but they didn't offer it to me.

Now I can't get unemployment, I think they still have me employed without scheduling me any  hours. It is holding it back. I can't cope with this, I don't know how. They are going to say I quit but out of context that is not the fact. That will penalize my unemployment, and it is their word against mine.

I have been looking for other work. Despite my persistence, I can't get a job. People are afraid to hire me even though I am more that capable and qualified. I don't know what I can do. Maybe I can help advocate, or volunteer somehow, I have no income coming in. What can I do?

Marianne

What did I feel was required of me? To pretend I didn't have children,
overtime was no problem (or weekends), and I would carry the load at home.
The women in this age group today do not parse their loyalty, it's their family I started in the workplace in the 70's, when women were fighting for equal rights and their dignity.
So in telling this, I request that you do not let another group in society pretend to be something they are not.
Allow them mobility and dignity.

Cheri

As others have stated, I personally know individuals right now who can not come "out" or their job would absolutely be in jeopardy. This is both in state government and the private sector. I still personally know of more than a dozen extraordinary people who felt they had to leave Nebraska in order to be authentic. This doesn't mean "flaunting" your sexuality at work. It does mean the ability to talk about it being your anniversary, have a photo of you and your loved one on your desk, of being able to list your partner as your "emergency contact" without raised eyebrows, while not being fearful about condemnation, let alone termination, if people find out. That pressure is exhausting and frankly, it's mentally, emotionally and spiritually damaging to people. We all have personal qualities or traits that others might not like about us for whatever reason and as professionals, we learn to adapt. Yet our GLBT community remains vulnerable because legally, people are allowed to discriminate if they wish. The fact that that there is a segment of the community that is so ardently opposed to this ordinance change makes it apparent it's necessary. The Hate Crimes statistics in Lincoln make it crystal clear that strong biases exist. As a lifelong city resident and active member of our community in every respect, I hope our leaders do the right thing and make Lincoln a FAIR place for future families to live, work and raise their children.

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