Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Life might be getting better for LGBT steelworkers
by Charlsie Dewey
2014-12-17

This article shared 4524 times since Wed Dec 17, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Anne Balay has become an advocate for LGBT steelworkers, which is interesting since she's never worked in a steel mill.

Balay did however work in Gary, Indiana, previously as an instructor at Indiana University Northwest. She said the proximity to the steel mills as well as a background in blue-collar work led to her searching out LGBT steelworkers to find out what their day-to-day life is like in the mills.

"I used to be a car mechanic so I knew what it was like to be a gay woman in a predominantly male, dirty industrial occupation," Balay said. "I wondered 'what is it like out in the mills, is it similar, how?' I was curious."

She said her initial research on the subject turned up nothing, which made her even more determined to pursue the topic.

What Balay found as she spoke to LGBT steelworkers was a strong anti-gay sentiment predominating the mills and a fear of speaking up about anti-gay harassment.

She detailed the accounts of the steelworkers she spoke with in her 2014 book, Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Steelworkers.

"I think they [the United Steelworkers] were kind of embarrassed by what the book said," Balay explained. "But instead of trying to defend themselves and entrench their position, which is what I expected … they contacted me and said we realize we have a problem, can you help us? That was a move that completely surprised me."

As a result, in August during the United Steelworkers Constitutional Convention the organization made two important changes aimed at bettering the work environment for LGBT workers.

Through an amendment to the international constitution, gender identity was added to the categories of protected people, which had already included sexual orientation.

"That matters because trans people experience the most egregious discrimination and physical danger at work," Balay said.

Additionally, a civil-rights resolution was passed to include conversations about LGBT protections as part of local contract negotiation requirements.

There was one more improvement taken up at the Constitutional Convention that didn't pass.

"The third thing was getting somebody trained in each district who will confidentially take complaints or questions from people who have run into something at work and they want to know whether it's protected or how," Balay explained. "That part didn't get passed. It got raised as something they are going to try and figure out."

Balay said having a contact person for LGBT individuals to go to and whom they feel safe confiding in is still important to creating a safe environment for LGBT workers and a step that needs to be taken.

Overall, though, she thinks the amendment and resolution were good steps and are already having positive implications for some steel mill workers.

"In my opinion, it makes a difference instantly that the union president publicly and visibly identified this as a problem," she said.

"Ever since then people contact me constantly and say my work place is different, I feel less invisible, I want to run for office, I want to build on this. So there is a change in culture in the various workplaces that the USW organizes."

Still, Balay noted there is a long way to go before all steelworkers really feel safe being themselves at work.

She noted a presentation she gave at the College of William and Mary recently that was attended by several USW members who work at a nearby shipyard who still advised colleagues not to come out.

"To hear them just report that is still going on and that it creates an intense climate of fear and therefore an intense climate of hiding, that is still happening."

That exchange made it clear to Balay there is still a conflicting sense of safety, and improvements must continue as well as enforcement.

"There is space now to come out and protection, but to what extent does that affect the work culture?" she asked. "It's going to take time."

She said education would be a key element in changing the work culture so anti-gay comments are no longer considered acceptable.

"What we would need to think about is how to get people educated about how that feels and how that creates a climate of fear for everybody," she said. "In the case of the steel mills, the climate of fear is a bad place to work because it's such a dangerous location. What all steelworkers need to learn is that they would be safer if everybody wasn't scared."

She said an interesting comparison would be to look at the military and its repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell ( DADT )."

"Has anybody studied how the climate has changed in the military since DADT collapsed?" she asked. "If we did that then we would know when you change the policy from above how long does it take? What happens? Does somebody need to be paying attention to and monitoring what goes on?"

Balay was careful to note it is not just blue-collar or masculine-dominated professions where anti-gay discrimination and work environments prevail.

"You are right to point out this is a hyper-masculine workplace that may permit more of that, it may permit more of it overtly, but it's not something that in any way has been addressed in workplace cultures," she said. "I didn't get tenure at my university and … it had everything to do with me being an out queer person on campus, and that is a university. It's way more common than you think."

Balay is currently promoting her book. She has also started research on the world of queer truck driving for her next project. She's spent time working as an over-the-road driver to get an understanding of the profession and will return to that line of work following the holidays.


This article shared 4524 times since Wed Dec 17, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

OPALGA+ Scholarship Gala taking place Oct. 23 2021-09-21
- The 2021 OPALGA+ (Oak Park Area Lesbian & Gay Association+) Scholarship Gala will take place Saturday, Oct. 23, at Nineteenth Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park. Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m., with the program/dinner ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Carl Bean dies, LGBT History Month, military events, Dykes on Bikes 2021-09-19
- Archbishop Carl Bean—an openly gay former Motown singer, longtime AIDS activist and leader in the LGBTQ church movement—died at age 77, The New York Daily News reported. In a statement entitled "The Giant Sleeps," the Unity ...


Gay News

WORLD Germany's compensation, Lyra McKee, LGBTQ Afghans, tennis player 2021-09-19
- Germany has compensated almost 250 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality, according to euronews. By September, 317 people had applied for compensation for their ...


Gay News

'Homophile' organization New Gay Liberation Front launches 2021-09-13
- The New Gay Liberation Front—which described itself in a press release as a "homophile organization"—has launched. "Homophile" is a term that was used by some gay and lesbian groups in the 1950s. According to the University ...


Gay News

Constand breaks silence about Bill Cosby 2021-09-07
- Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand is breaking her silence to NBC News about the comic/actor's release from prison two months ago, Deadline noted. In a brief clip, Constand tells Kate Snow she "was really shocked — ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Pioneering lesbian business owner Susan Mazer dies 2021-09-04
- Susan Mazer died August 31 due to COVID-19 complications. She was 77. At the time of her death, Mazer was living in Port Saint Lucie, Florida with her wife Janet Norton. Mazer was born May 10, ...


Gay News

HIV AT 40: Global activist Phill Wilson talks Chicago, the '80s and vaccines 2021-09-01
- Phill Wilson is one of the best-known HIV/AIDS activists/educators around the globe. The Chicago native was the co-founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention. He ...


Gay News

TENNIS U.S. Open to celebrate Pride on Sept. 1 2021-08-28
- Rainbow flags will be flying at the USTA (United States Tennis Association) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Wed., Sept. 1, as the USTA celebrates and welcomes the LGBTQ+ community to the first-ever Open Pride ...


Gay News

Report features eight Illinois child-welfare agencies working with HRC Foundation 2021-08-26
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released a new report ...


Gay News

ART 'Frida Kahlo: Timeless' extended to Sept. 12 2021-08-26
- "Frida Kahlo: Timeless," hosted by the Cleve Carney Museum of Art (CCMA) and the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at the College of DuPage (COD), has been extended an additional week to Sept. 12. To date, "Timeless" ...


Gay News

WORLD Trapped in Afghanistan, lesbian pioneer, anti-gay crimes, Valencia's bid 2021-08-22
- Among the Americans trapped in the suburban areas of Kabul, Afghanistan, under Taliban control was Josie Thomas, 32, a transgender government contractor for the U.S. State Department and former U.S. Air Force Sergeant, The Washington Blade ...


Gay News

COMEDY Cameron Esposito at The Den on Oct. 2 2021-08-17
- The Den Theatre will present out comedian Cameron Esposito Saturday, Oct. 2d at 8 pm on The Heath Mainstage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.. Esposito is a standup comic, actor and writer who has appeared across television ...


Gay News

GLAAD highlights how Olympians used Tokyo Games to call for LGBTQ acceptance 2021-08-11
--From a press release - (August 11, 2021) GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is highlighting how this year's historic number of out LGBTQ athletes repeatedly stood ...


Gay News

LGBTQ women's music event 'Still Rising' on Aug. 21 2021-08-12
- Still Rising—for LGBTQ women DJs, producers, promoters and their allies—will take place Saturday, Aug. 21, at Epiphany Center for the Arts, 201 S. Ashland Ave. There will be a mixer, workshops and, of course, music at ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Biden nominees, San Diego crime, HRC, Fox News contributor 2021-08-08
- President Joe Biden reappointed out lesbian Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum as a commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which is an advisory post pertaining to issues of religious freedom, Gay City News reported. ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.