This is how a straight guy changed his LGBTI views | Photo: Instagram
A straight guy has penned a heartfelt essay about how a co-worker transformed him from a gay basher to an ally.
He answered a question on Ask Reddit, asking former homophobes what changed their mind.
He answered anonymously. For the purpose of this article, we will call him Brandon.
Brandon said, in his teen years, he was a ‘vocal and hateful gay basher’.
Being a self-confessed gay basher
As president of the high school thespian troupe, he thought his opinions were ‘highly informed and bulletproof’.
‘I didn’t know just how many of my close friends were gay,’ Brandon said. ‘Let’s face it, people who think they’re smart tend to be somewhat out of touch until life gives them an attitude adjustment.’
A year after graduation, Brandon’s first office job was in 1986.
He wrote: ‘I worked with Randy, the first openly gay and proud man I’d ever met. Randy was never “in your face” about being gay, and his personality was essentially “the life of the party.” He made no apologies for who he was, at a point in time where the HIV and AIDS crisis had produced many asshole opinions just like mine.’
The two of them worked as technical writers. He was placed with Randy on a Partner’s Desk, a desk where two people sit on opposite sides for eight hours a day.
‘The day Randy started his job I made my position about homosexuality horrifically, rudely clear,’ Brandon said.
‘He smiled, and with a politeness that I never deserved, said that he was sorry that I let his homosexuality bother me. But that it wasn’t going to get in the way of us getting good solid work done together.’
Don’t let homophobia get in the way
Brandon added: ‘As I learned in the year that followed, Randy was always true to his word. He was also very, very good at his job.
‘He was better at it than I was, and of course, that was difficult for me to deal with. Randy handled this by being a mentor whenever I’d allow him to. Not one time did he ever treat his skills as a way to claim superiority. From the bottom of his heart, if Randy could help another person out, that was what he wanted to do. I became better at my job because of him.’
He also soon realized Randy was the ‘kindest, most decent human being’ he had ever met.
‘Through him I came to realize that it takes a truly lost person to hate someone because of who they love,’ Brandon continued.
‘Randy could have brushed me aside as just another bigoted homophobe, because that’s it’s exactly what I was. But he didn’t.
‘Neither did Randy set out to make me a better person or change my mind.
‘Randy chose to be who he was, no matter what, when it seemed like the whole world, especially his officemate, was against him.
‘He didn’t choose to change my way of thinking; my way of thinking simply could not stand up to the powerful decency of this man.’
From gay basher to ally
Brandon also said: ‘So Randy won.
‘He won in being the best man he knew how to be. He won in allowing others to accept it, or not, with no anger and no apologies.
‘When the day finally came that I moved on to another company, I hugged Randy to say goodbye. I cried because I knew I was going to miss my friend.
‘We kept in touch for years, but we’ve lost touch now.
‘I’m a boring 50-something hetero husband and father who has a great understanding of the value of my coworkers and my fellow man now.
‘I have a daughter who’s a proud member of the LGBT+ community. I’m the first to show off her girlfriend to my family and friends.
‘And I still take every chance I get to tell the world about how an amazing and wonderful man named Randy turned my attitude around without even trying.
‘The world needs more people like him. I’m so very, very glad to see that finally, the assholes like I used to be are the ones who have to be ashamed and hide what they feel.
‘Gay or straight, Randy’s attitude of acceptance without apology would truly change the world if we could all experience it the way I did.
‘That’s how I changed my mind.’
Answering questions, he said he reached out to Randy a few years ago to say thank you.
‘He was humble as always and extremely thankful,’ Brandon said.
‘I happened to catch him at a difficult emotional time in his life, so our conversation didn’t go far. But I am very glad to know that he knows how much impact he had on my soul, not just my life.’