#SouthernStories for #GivingTuesday: Brian Martin

Kick off the holidays by giving back. Join GLAAD on #GivingTuesday to raise critical funds and expand #SouthernStories, GLAAD's project to put a human face on the challenges LGBT people face in the American South. All this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, GLAAD is sharing some of the stories behind this campaign. Take a look at the story of Brian Martin from Atlanta, Georgia.

I have worked in Telecom management for over 20 years. I was offered a management position at a very successful company in Atlanta. Shortly after starting I implemented a number of strategies that significantly reduced the company’s telecom costs, improved customer service, employee productivity and morale.

My Vice President began to make comments and jokes about my age, race and sexual orientation. She suggested in front of my staff that I wear a ballerina’s tutu to a lunch meeting with another VP to make him uncomfortable. She went on to offer to act as my “beard” so that I could make people believe that I was straight.

When I made it known that I found her comments offensive and attempted to only have conversations of a professional nature, my work and performance, in her opinion suddenly was subpar and not meeting her expectations. I continued to focus on my work and diligently tried to meet her ever changing expectations of me.

What started out as exceptional performance that was praised in companywide meetings, rewarded with gift cards and complimented on the company’s internal social media tool, was now considered not meeting expectations and I was suddenly terminated, in spite of having expressed my concerns to HR.

I have filed an EEOC complaint against the company. Sadly, harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation are not covered under current federal employment discrimination laws. I have also filed a complaint with the city of Atlanta who does have protections in place to prevent harassment and discrimination built into the city’s charter.  This matter is still being pursued through private civil proceedings.

I have moved on from this horrible experience and am now happily working in a company that embraces diversity and inclusion. I'm now no longer concerned about issues like race, age and sexual orientation impacting my career and advancement opportunities as I am now being evaluated solely on my contributions to the company.  I also launched my entertainment company BriSTAR Entertainment, where I am fortunate enough to work with recording artists like dance Diva Robin S. Life is good after the storm.

GLAAD gives voice to LGBT people and allies by amplifying inspiring and impactful stories aimed at leveraging the power of the media to change culture. Are you a Southerner who has a story you believe deserves attention from GLAAD and the media? Share it with us. We may feature your story in the GLAAD Newsroom and with local, regional or national media. And be sure to support GLAAD on #GivingTuesday.