In some ways, the world has become more accepting of LGBTQIA people in the past decade.
But in many places, homophobia on both the structural and social levels is rampant and emboldened.
Navigating this kind of bigotry in the workplace can create enormous stress, particularly when there's no HR to lighten the burden. Oftentimes people find themselves straddling the line between preserving their safety and their identity and values.
At the end of the day, when you're faced with hostility, survival is often the first priority.
AITA for mocking a homophobic guy at work, and maybe taking it too far?
I work in a male-dominated workplace, and I'm a lesbian. I'm a pretty f**kin obvious lesbian too, like not to be a stereotype but I work a trade job, have buzzed hair, lift, fish and camp, and like working on cars.
My nails are short as hell and I wear my keys and multitools on a belt carabiner. And I'm out at work, like it's no secret. Now, in a normal workplace I'm sure the advice here would be to go to HR about the sh*t I'm about to describe.
But I'm just getting this out of the way first, my job's got no HR, and if you think management is gonna do anything about sexism and homophobia? They're the ones doing the worst of it.
I've had more luck asking the guys on my level to go tell the management to cut their bigoted s**t out than vice versa honestly. I'm so lucky to have a great team that treats me like one of the crew and has my back.
Like these guys will talk s**t if I do some dumb s**t, but they'll never talk s**t about my sexuality or me being a girl. It's not the same across the whole job though, there are some people who are genuinely just really bigoted.
I'll call the guy I'm talking about here Robert because that's his name. Yesterday, Robert said that he heard around the shop that I was a (slur for gay person) in front of my coworkers. I decided to have a bit of a laugh at him.
I went 'Did you just call me a (slur)... What the hell man? I'm straight. Who the f**k told you I'm an (even worse slur).' A lot of my coworkers were holding back a laugh because they all know I'm 100% gay, and doing a bit.
He started getting evasive and didn't tell me anyone's name, so I just started going 'I'm a Christian! I have a wonderful husband! And it's real f**ked up you're making s**t up'
He started to backtrack, saying all he asked was if I was a lesbian (which wasn't even true). I was like 'For real man, who even told you I'm...that?'
And he said Will, another guy who I know is kinda a bigoted old dick.
So then I go 'Oh, for f**ks sake, of COURSE it was Will. You can't even get caught f**king ONE guy's mom. (Pauses to count on fingers). OK, A guy's mom...without getting called a f**king lesbian nowadays.'
At that point, most of my coworkers cracked up, and Robert was catching on that it was an elaborate setup for a 'your mom' joke and he got angry asking if I was mocking him.
I was like 'F**kin took you long enough! Like seriously, you should of noticed I was fruity years ago, when I kept coming over your mom's house at night.'
He stormed off cussing me out and I felt kinda like I had a good laugh but also kinda like I went a little too far. I also don't feel great about making kinda misogynist jokes.
It's something that definitely gets me respect at work, if I can s**t talk back instead of being a pushover, and if I end up being cruder than anyone else, but it also felt a little icky? AITA for making fun of a homophobic guy at work?
The internet quickly jumped on to share their thoughts.
I love this line: ‘I’m a pretty f**king obvious lesbian’. You are a pretty obvious f**king champion. NTA.
NTA. You're using the same a**hole power that everyone else you work with does, especially your bosses. If they came at you for it, they'd have some major explaining to do for their hypocrisy.
NTA. Seems like that sort of humor is par for the course in that particular work environment. I mean obviously, that would get you in trouble in like a corporate office job, but you know that.
You also know that relying on misogynistic humor is not the super mega coolest thing in the world.
But you're just fitting in with a culture that's already there, and if any of the people there were likely to be meaningfully hurt as a result of that kind of humor, it would most likely be you yourself.
So as long as that read is right, that that's just the kind of gruff humor your workplace has, I think you're just fine.
NTA. Look, he came at you like a homophobic bigot. But ran off when you made a 'your mom' joke.
Is it the classiest or nicest joke? No. Is it a language that this a**hole clearly understands and will it maybe get him to leave you alone? Also yes. Sometimes you have to speak their damn language.
As a fellow woman in the trades, NTA. The s**t that comes out of some men's mouths is indescribable sometimes, and if they can't take it just because it's coming from a woman's mouth instead, f**k em.
Our industry isn't the place for the thin-skinned or easily offended. And I don't know why he was acting all weird that you're a lesbian, I'd wager about 70% of the women I've worked with in my union are.
Any dude in the trade should be used to it by now. For what it's worth, I'm straight, but have absolutely told really awful guys things like I get more p*ssy than they do or that their gf/wife was great, but she needs to stop calling.
Hell, I break out modified Shoresy quotes sometimes (really, you should look up Shoresy from Letterkenny on YouTube, you'll be set with some AMAZING one-liners and comebacks).
You gotta say and do what's necessary to put the schmucks in their place and get along with the rest.
I'm bucking the trend with a very soft ESH - but I don't think you suck in the classic way.
The bigots get no sympathy for dishing out but not being able to take it. You're morally on much safer ground, though you do have a point about leaning in to the misogyny with the way you were joking around.
That said, in some male-dominated environments that culture has been well-established for so long it's hard for even the decent types to see it. You weren't using the toxic culture to blend in but to make a point.
Though I'm sure you could think of other ways to do that in future.
Gay guy here so obviously I think you're NTA, but I get why you feel like one. You're effectively using this guy's homophobia and sexism as a weapon against him to keep yourself safe.
While that's effective, it makes you feel complicit in the culture that treats you badly. That's not your fault though, that's just another effect of homophobia. You're clearly a very strong person to work in the environment you do.
But that doesn't mean that sexism and homophobia don't effect you. You shouldn't feel guilty for doing what you need to do to survive in this environment.
But I hope you have a supportive queer community to talk to about these incidents because that's clearly something you need to be able to do. Good luck OP, you're doing great.