Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guest Blog: Hardy Boys and the Case of The Looker

(our friend mac is our guest blogger today, enjoy!)

To those of you who think that homophobia doesn't still exist.. that "nobody cares" anymore.. that being queer is the new hip fad..

I work at a large format bookstore in one of the busiest areas of the financial district of Toronto. Specifically, I work in a section of the store which includes the photography section. Within our section, we have two sets of visitors: "real customers" who occasionally look up good ol' Ansel Adams and occasionally make a purchase, and the large majority of our photography "creepers" who spend an entire shift looking at our large assortment of scantily clad porno books. Do not get me wrong: I love my porn. I love the female body. I love photography. I love men that love women's bodies. What I do not love is customers who leave sticky, perused copies of Naked Girls Smoking Weed in the gardening section - especially when it is not the designated, unwrapped "display" copy. So, in light of spring, sexuality, the upcoming Toronto Pride festival, and the abovementioned creepers, our Arts section decided to order in large quanties of nakidly skad books and make a sexy nudity display. We've got your XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits . We've got your artsy, naked Klimt/Schiele paintings. We've got Suicide Girls , cartoon nudes, and naked mothers and their also naked 12 year old daughters (sorry - couldn't remember the name to that keeper of a book).

For the purpose of this post, the book that started it all was Hard Boys.

So, as I'm walking by our great display (which has so far been a large hit with customers) - a young man (late twenties, early thirties) is browsing through one of our biggest and most travelled books, The Looker. Long story short, he was furious. He demanded to know how we could dare have such a display. His side of the conversation included many a reference to "fucking faggots", how Adam and Eve weren't Adam and Steve (he didn't actually say this, but he did make many great bible references) . He screamed at me (no exaggeration) for at least a solid five minutes, and stated many times that as a "straight man" (seriously, The Looker was in his hand, he had to be straight, right?) this display "offended him". All I could offer was that our store had an anti-discrimination policy, and that I found what HE was saying to be offensive. I was told I was a sinner. And that I wouldn't be alive if my parents were gay. Not only have I never been screamed at as an employee (for something that had absolutely nothing to do with me) and within a book store (in the heart of freaking Toronto no less).

As an employee of our organization, I wasn't aware of what I could say, and where to draw the line between being a (non-visibly) queer individual who is getting screamed at, and representing my company. Not only was I bound by my "work vest" - I was in a BOOK STORE for Christ's sakes. I wasn't about to swear or scream at him to get out. I was an active participant within a hate crime, without this man having any clue that half of the shit he was saying applied directly to who I fuck, what I believe, what I went to school for, and the personal lives of so many of my coworkers and people that I love. Needless to say, I left work immediately, quite upset.

So for all of these people who don't understand the need for a "pride parade", who mock the concept of heterosexism, who think that gay marriages somehow align the queer world with that of broader society... homophobia still exists, loud and proud baby.

Needless to say, he didn't even end up buying The Looker.


Anonymous said...

Im so sorry that this happened to you. It just absolutely boggles my mind that someone could so publicly and hatefully discriminate such a growing part of society. Such close mindedness is so hurtful and Im not sure what I would have done in the same situation/circumstance. Just wanted to let you know that I love you! And I hope that someday more homosapians will have more education, class and poise - instead of ignorance, hate and inhumanity... blowing up in the middle of a book store with a hideous hate crime. Love you Emsy Loo Hoo.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear this happened to you. Being at the bottom of the ladder is the worst. You feel bound by this pledge to excellent customer service, because you don't want to lose your job, but what's the right thing to do when you're not in a position to get your manager, and you don't have the authority to fight back? This breaks my heart.

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