2 min

What not to wear

Discrimination on the basis of style

“What is Michael Stipe doing on the cover of The Province?” I wondered. “And why is he dressed like Clinton Kelly?”

According to the Jun 9 headline, a lawyer claimed he was harassed at work for being “a snappy dresser…& too gay!” I rubbed my hands together with glee. Nothing gets my blood pumping better than a story about discrimination.

In the article, the lawyer described himself as “Etro-sexual” at which point I wondered, was he harassed because he’s bi or annoying?

Two days later, a former paralegal from a different firm said he too had been “on the defensive” because he’s “outgoing, slim, clean-cut and a conservative dresser.” I thought, “If it walks like a duck…” But this paralegal has been married to a woman for three years. Then again, so was I.

So let me get this straight. Two cases of harassment: one for being a snappy dresser, the other for dressing conservatively. Both men claim a modicum of heterosexuality and yet both claim they were harassed for acting gay. I predicted metrosexuals would one day start demanding their rights.

I knew an effeminate waiter who interviewed at a sports bar in the SkyDome and was asked, “If you were stuck in an elevator with someone, would you prefer it to be a man or woman?” I told him to call the local news.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “I’ll never work in this town again!” I worked at a gay café where we fired a manager for being an asshole and he went on the news and said he was fired because he was straight. Is it me or is there a pattern forming here?

Still, a person should not be harassed because he walks like a duck. To get some perspective, I read the letter that put the lawyer on the cover of The Province. It was like Bleak House meets Ally McBeal. One minute he’s talking about “war, strife and all manner of conflict” and the next he’s on about Holt Renfrew and his morning cannoli.

What is so shocking about the letter is that a lawyer wrote it. He describes harassment as “firing an individual for being gay, black, Asian or whatever.” Whatever? I believe the words he was looking for were “race” and “sexual orientation.”

“I could have written this,” I thought. I have written this! To politicians, celebrities, corporations, and some of my closest friends–usually when I’m feeling powerless and tipsy.

Whatever happened at the law firm, it was bad enough for this lawyer to resort to drastic measures. But if you’re going to claim discrimination based on sexual orientation, the least could you could do is say that you’re gay.