Archive for June, 2010

How I Became a Home Depot Defender

June 26, 2010 Leave a comment

(cross-posted from The Bilerico Project)

I’m not usually in the practice of coming to the defense of many coporations, especially a giant retailer like Home Depot, but Media Matters for America’s County Fair blog pointed out a World Net Daily report that promoted a homophobic American Family Association (AFA) email to its members. In it, Home Depot is the subject of AFA’s ire for its domestic partner benefits, which are open to domestic partners of their employees.

County Fair on the AFA:

“So, what exactly is the AFA? It certainly sounds wholesome, but a review of its past comments tells an entirely different story. Political Correction — Media Matters’ partner organization — offers some enlightening context:

Yep, you read that correctly. WND quotes an organization that thinks too many Indian-Americans are winning spelling bees and that gay sex is tantamount to domestic terrorism.”

It’s true, as County Fair’s Kyle Frisch points out, that WND is clearly on the furthest parts of the right-wing fringe, but it’s also true that they’re doing their part to spread hatred in the form of some twisted comedy to all its readers.

It’s also true that there are probably some things I would hate to know about Home Depot’s corporate business practices, but at least it does have accepting benefits policies, which include any domestic partner of an employee, which includes its LGBT staffers.

I’m glad they have a presence at Pride celebrations like the one featured in the WND story. More corporations would do well to look to Home Depot for ideas on how they can be more inclusive of their own LGBT employees.

Still, my support for Home Depot doesn’t derive from that alone. There are, thankfully, other American corporations with similar policies. It derives from how much enjoyment my father has found in working for them, especially where it concerns their inclusive policies.

Both my parents are hard-working blue-collar Latinos with not much more than a high school education. They also probably spend their time online doing less social networking than most of those reading this post right now, especially when it comes to activism. But I like to think that over the years I’ve kept them informed enough to consider the LGBT implications of those they support electorally, financially, or as potential employers.

Not too long ago, my dad took a job with a Home Depot in Texas working in the lumber department. I was a little confused when he told me left an operating room position at a local hospital to take a customer service job at Home Depot, but he told me he was happy about the decision and looking forward to not having to contend with physician egos. Understandable.

I can’t say I was really convinced that it was the best decision, but over the last year I have really come to understand more clearly than ever how important it is to attain personal happiness. My partner has been instrumental in helping me get to that point. My father, I’ve learned, is doing what he needs to do to be happy.

He’s also an outstanding carpenter so the lumber department makes perfect sense for him! He even landed an account at a river resort in the Texas hill country making deck chairs. He gets to work with his hands and he’s around 2×4’s and 3×4’s and whatever else you might find in that department. All I know is that he is in utter bliss when he’s there.

I’m very proud of him and he is also skilled at charming the pants off people when he meets them, so it’s fitting to have him on the floor talking to folks about what they need for their own projects.

Despite all that, I was still on the fence about him working there.

I became a Home Depot supporter when my dad told me what he learned after finishing orientation. He called and was very excited to tell me about Home Depot’s LGBT friendly benefits policies and how he spoke up to his supervisors to let them know that he was happy he was working there because of that policy. He told them that he had a gay son, so it was important for him to be working for such a friendly company.

He had come out to his fellow staffers. True, he didn’t come out as a gay man, but I know many parents back home who love their gay and lesbian kids, but who would also prefer that nobody else know they have one. It’s sadly far too common.

I’m lucky enough to have parents who love me for me in private and in public and who are unafraid to say so.

Whether my dad knows it or not, he was an activist that day when he voiced his support for his company’s LGBT policies. LGBT employees at Home Depot should thank my father for his small action.

He is a true friend and ally to our community the world over.

Thanks, Dad.

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