Re: TAN: Sexual Orientation and Tech Comm (WAS: Event)

Subject: Re: TAN: Sexual Orientation and Tech Comm (WAS: Event)
From: Rick Lanser <rickl -at- ENTER -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 09:16:38 -0400

I had no intention of clogging up the list with this peripheral issue, but
John Gear seems to feel that private replies are not sufficient, and had to
make a long post to the list. I will keep my response brief.

The fact that John felt the need to take up bandwidth on this proves my
point that homosexual issues are a "hot button", not of a professional
nature but of a moral one, and should not be posted to this forum.

John responded to my original statement:
>>I disagree. Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with technical
>>communication

by rather sarcastically inquiring,

>Is this something you know as a result of study or is it a piece of received
>wisdom?

to which I answer, it's common sense. Something I trust enough people still
have that it needs no explanation. When I said TC has nothing to do with
sexual orientation, I thought it was obvious I was referring to the process
by which we try to communicate technical subjects to our target audience. To
me, anyway, this is what TC is. As for John's comments about getting fired
for suspicion of homosexuality, I sympathize; I am not an advocate of this.
Overt shows of homosexual orientation in the workplace, though, are another
issue, and not just for homosexuals. In this day of sexual harassment
regulations, a fellow might also get fired if he overtly made a pass at the
boss's secretary while on the job--or perhaps even after hours!

I said:
>>I don't think homosexuals need to
>>isolate themselves from the professional mainstream by forming their own
>>clique, since in a professional context one's marital status has no bearing
>>on their work

and John reacted:
>Since homosexuals don't get to *have* marital status--or benefits, or
>any of the other privileges that heterosexuals take for granted--it is hard
>to accept that
>you thought for long before writing that it "in a professional context one's
>marital status has no bearing on their work."

I should have originally written, "FOR EXAMPLE, in a professional context
one's marital status has no bearing on their work." It was an illustration
of how singleness or being married does not affect the work itself. It may
affect which coworkers you spend time with off the job, but not the work of
creating online help or whatever it is your boss pays you to do.

>And since when did forming an affinity organization mean "isolating
>themselves from the mainstream."
>Should the Society of Women Engineers fold up? Should NAACP close up shop?

The difference is that many of these other organizations are based on very
obvious, unalterable things such as race or sex. Part of the "hot button"
nature of homosexuality is that it has behavioral connotations. Being
female, male, black, white or Chinese have no behavioral connections, but
homosexuality cannot divorce itself from behavior issues. I say this not as
an insult, but what appears to be a self-evident fact. Whether one argues
that homosexuals are "born that way" is beside the point; the
behavioral--and moral--connotations remain, unlike other organizations such
as you mentioned.

>And say, when did straights become, "the mainstream"?
>And what's this about "their" work?

John, did my posting define "the mainstream" as being "straights"? My
original statement said, "the _professional_ mainstream"; it had nothing to
do with sexual orientation, but only with professional technical
communicators in general. You made this leap of logic and misquoted and
misunderstood me because your "hot button" got pushed. Which is the reason
why this subject is inappropriate for this forum.

>I don't want to "stay together" with anyone who says that being together means
>we can only talk about those parts of life that meet with your approval.
>Your personal myopia about what constitutes "matters related to our field of
>work" is appalling but it need not be the standard or a bar to discussion on
>this list.

It should be clear I am only talking about "staying together" on a
professional basis, to learn from each other how to better work our craft
with words, computers, whatever it is we use. To me, anyway, that is the
purpose of the "Technical Writers List."

I submit I have approached this issue without sarcasm or belittling anyone,
unlike the invective some others have directed my way. I myself am
handicapped by deafness, but feel no need to start forming a Society for
Deaf Technical Communicators, or leaving the main large, mixed group of
people who practice the same profession as I to focus on peripheral
matters--matters which may be important to me as an individual, but not
having a direct bearing on my field of work. I joined this group to learn
from other, more experienced technical communicators, and have found it a
most valuable forum. I agree with John that lots of "Frame vs. Word" type
discussions get old quickly, but they are part of our craft and naturally
belong to this forum. So I will say it again: Sexual orientation has
absolutely nothing to do with technical communication. I hope with the
clarifications I made in this post we close this very TAN topic.

Rick Lanser
rickl -at- enter -dot- net
Publishing Specialist, Graco Children's Products Inc.
Any opinions expressed are my own, not my employers'.


Rick Lanser
Publishing Specialist, Graco Children's Products, Inc.
rickl -at- enter -dot- net

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