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Condemnation: Those who do remember the past know we will defeat it

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 27-12Dick Meister is a San Francisco-based freelance writer who's been covering the local scene for the past several decades. Today, Meister taps into that vast well of Bay Area remembrance to remind those of us living in the era of Harvey Milk the movie that those who lived in the era of Harvey Milk the human dealt with some problems that are almost unimaginable to us today. And we're not talking polyester and bad disco -- we're talking about problems like, say, the unmerited, unreasonable firing of "known homosexuals."

Here's an excerpt from a broadcast news piece that Meister taped in 1974:

We talk lots about employment discrimination based on race, religion, age. But not many people outside the gay community itself seem much concerned with job discrimination against homosexuals. It's impossible to come up with specific figures. No one has been studying the problem long enough for that, or to a great enough extent.

But organizations that are devoted to the problems of homosexuals say the discrimination is widespread, even in San Francisco, which is supposedly liberal about such things. These organizations, in fact, say it is a "fairly commomn" practice for San Francisco employers to discriminate against homosexual workers -- male and female alike.

They say the worst offenders are the larger corporations and retail stores. Some -- Pacific Telephone is one -- have had a flat prohibition against hiring homosexuals. And some -- large department stores, for example -- will hire known homosexuals, but never promote them to management positions.

The Federal Government is considered to be probably the worst offender, since it has traditionally excluded known homosexuals from civil service jobs, and commonly engaged in undercover investigations to discover homosexuals on government payrolls and then force them out for "immoral conduct."

Kinda crazy, right? A little over thirty years ago, and the issue was not only about securing federal, gender-inclusive legislation -- the issue was about securing more than two legislators who gave a damn. The issue wasn't the possibility of maybe being fired because you're gay -- the firings were more the rule, less the exception. And the nation's Fortune 500 companies? Needless to say, they largely saw LGBT people as much more of a risk than a commodity.

So while we modern gays (rightfully) bitch and moan about the (unrighteous) stripping away of our rights, we do need to keep in mind the journey that has society has taken in the days since "The Brady Bunch" (with a closeted actor in the lead role) left the air. And as we press forward, we must do so with the beautiful knowledge that history, the great vindicator, is undebatably on our side!

Go read Meister's full remembrance:

Meister: 'Homosexuals need not apply' [The Bruce Blog --SF Bay Guardian]

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Your thoughts

This is really sad to hear that these practises are still being adopted, on one hand we say that we all are equal and on the other hand we do such things, it does not suits us.

Posted by: Hussey | Nov 24, 2008 3:47:02 PM

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