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April 22, 2014

Vilest of Evils

Roy Meachum

Sometimes it happens that not recognizing homosexuals is the vilest of evils. That’s a new thing. In my childhood, growing up in New Orleans, “gays” or “queers” at least were not glaringly apparent all the time.


A black, when asked by me, being a very curious boy, told me that getting equal wages for the same work was the answer. This was prior to the civil rights push. Recently I read that women were paid less than a man employed for the same thing; it still goes on.


By justification, employers point out that the “fairer sex” can get pregnant and are afflicted with “vapors,” which sounds like an excuse to me. Unjustifiable! I once had a woman working in my department that performed better than any male in sight on several floors in the big building. Of course, I knew her. She worked for me but the times were out of joint: I couldn’t “justify” equal pay to her colleagues.


“Justify” meant I didn’t have the guts.


Various times in my long career, I had minorities, women and gays working for me, directly reporting. While accepting more money I didn’t go to bat for them. I explain my lack of guts. It’s more complicated. I was insecure, afraid to take on my bigger bosses or the personnel people.


Referencing the question I posed as a “very curious boy,” I was aware there was a difference in the way I was treated. In a phrase, I chose to go along with treatment of minorities, women and gays. By admitting years later, I cannot excuse my behavior; I was asking the questions. Somehow and in some way, I was somewhat placated by the information I received. This is no admission of personal courage. I can claim no backbone.


There is no comfort in recognizing the situation we went through. They were hard times that we lived through. We heterosexual men failed to comprehend the crisis in our lives.


Shame on us!


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