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In UK, Straight Man Driven from Job by Gay Jibes

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 4, 2008

A top-notch salesman finally had to leave his company after nine years of anti-gay jibes... even though he was straight.

Thisislondon.co.uk posted a story March 4 that detailed the claim made by Stephen English, the 56-year-old father of three, that work colleagues continually made fun of him with jokes based on gay stereotypes after discovering that English had gone to boarding school, and that he resided in Brighton, a town with a large gay population.

In movies such as Another Country, English boarding schools are depicted as rife with same-sex activity between male pupils.

English's colleagues allegedly took those stereotypes to such an extent that they called English by derogatory names such as "faggot," and their jests extended, English claimed, to one colleague creating a fictional account in a company publication of English attending a Gay Pride event in tight-fitting cycling shorts, reported thisislondon.co.uk.

English finally had had enough, and quit his job. Taking his case to an employment tribunal, English said, "To a large extent I went along with the comments as being part of the banter which one has to endure as a result of working with extrovert sales people."

Continued English, "However, I gradually grew more and more upset and worn-down by them particularly as my daughters were now teenagers and very impressionable."

English also said the taunting had a deleterious effect on perceptions of his professional ability, since his colleagues reached a point at which, he said, they "no longer ever referred to me by my given name--it was usually that of a gay connotation or a derogatory title."

English said that his family suffered, as well, because is wife and daughters "were not only readers of the in-house magazines, but were at home on occasions when I held team meetings and overheard comments referring to my perceived sexual orientation."

After losing his case with the tribunal last September, English then appealed, and lost again in January.

An employment tribunal judge, Peter Clark, was reported by thisislondon.co.uk to have explained that things would have been different had Mr. English's work colleagues treated him in such a manner because they actually thought that he was gay.

English has taken his case to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Thisislondon.co.uk noted that taxpayers will now cover the cost of the case, which could reach an estimated cost of approximately $100,000.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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