How do I HR this?
May 23, 2014 3:37 PM Subscribe
Had an argument with a colleague last Friday that had homophobic undertones. I want to report this to HR just to be on the safe side, what's the best way forward?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a bit of a long, convoluted story so I'll try and keep it short. Last Friday I ended up going out drinking with some people from work - leaving do. While out me and another colleague M were invited to a houseparty, also with people from work. M is not someone I work with directly but is well implanted socially with a number of my direct team and is married to a woman who is not my boss but is senior in my department. The house party was fine and fun, only point here is that during a game of never ever haver I ever (I know, never would have played it I'd been sober and I remember not really wanting to them) it came out that I was gay. I don't mind being out at work but I wasn't until then - not because I think anyone I work with would have a problem with, just that it's a personal matter not a professional one.
As M and I were waiting for the lifts after the house party, door down the corridor opens and out steps two guys who invite us into theirs for a drink. Fair enough, go along. Inside are about 7 guys who were all from Saudi Arabia. We're talking to them and to be honest M was being kind of obnoxious, giving them English lessons (its vs it's, pratice vs practise) but more importantly repeatly nudging me meaningfully and saying lowly 'don't bring up the fact that you're gay'. This was not, as far I could tell and my sense was collaborated later, to avoid any trouble for me, but because mentioning it could make things awkward. He was fine bringing up women's rights and berating them about it, I did join clumsily in here, but don't mention the gay. Should note that these guys were drinking, smoking and playing cards - they did not seem strict Muslims or anything similar.
We left together and out on the street I told him that I really did not appreciate him saying when and how I could bring up the fact that I was gay. This turned heated pretty quickly - I don't remember if I started aggressive but I definitely ended aggressive when he told me that I was making an issue out of nothing, that I was making everything about me being gay. This one rankled particularly: he didn't know I was gay until hours ago despite knowing me for about 4 months. He repeatedly would not listen to me when I tried to explain to him why I did not like someone else dictating how to be out, that it had a lot of bad echoes for me. I may have also told him to go fuck himself that I was being too sensitive or something equally patronising and dismissive, after I had been really trying to patiently get across where I was coming from.
To his credit he did apologise, but this was given arms folded with a 'I don't get this' look and radiating that he was just saying whatever to end the conversation. I'll take it though.
(Just to be clear, my issue here is not someone not recommending bringing up that I'm gay in a room full of potentially hostile strangers. My issue is someone telling me not to because they would find it awkward and then pointedly ignoring where I'm coming from when I try and explain why that's not cool.)
My bigger issue is, more importantly, that I don't want this to bite me in the ass later. At several points I walked away from the argument and at one of them as I was walking away he said 'Don't walk away, you'll regret it'.
What's my move here? HR of course, but how and how to present this? I don't think I'm blameless for a second and I can see in the sober light of day that I should have just said it and, seeing that he wasn't going to listen, left it.
Cheers for reading this though, much appreciated.
Also, as a separate issue, if there's any tips on how I could have handled this better that would be appreciated. My main concern is for work, but I'd like to avoid this kind of fallout in future.