BY Michelle Garcia
March 25 2010 1:20 PM ET
Steven Petrow started writing etiquette advice after he noticed his friends kept getting it from him for free. Eventually, he compiled his top-notch words of wisdom into the 1995 book, The Essential Book of Gay Manners and Etiquette, which he's since parlayed into a syndicated column.
But since Petrow's book came out 15 years ago, a lot in the LGBT universe has changed. There are now a handful of states and countries where same-sex couples can marry, and a lot more couples are adopting or having children. With the evolution of laws and society comes the evolution of situations in which etiquette must be considered. Now, Petrow is in the works of writing a new book as he fields questions on his website from curious gays on topics ranging from how to properly write wedding invitations for same-sex couples to tactful civil disobedience.
The Advocate caught up with Petrow, who says the best advice he was ever given was by a friend who told him to have a plan to come out.
The Advocate: Let's say you're in an interview for your absolute dream job interview. You've been more or less dreaming about working at this place all your life. But what do you do if the person conducting the interview says something homophobic or transphobic. What should you do or say?
Steven Petrow: I think the first question you want to ask yourself is, "Do I want to work there?" Environment is really important to all of us. It's a very difficult situation to challenge, when you're in an economy like we're in now. I think the next thing to do is, if you have a debriefing with somebody else, you might want to say, "I was kind of puzzled by this remark," and then relay it. You don't have to do it in an angry or aggressive way. Just say, "I was a little concerned by the comments." Then, try to see if they will do a little homework on your behalf. That may be a way to bring some light to a situation. Sometimes people make homophobic or transphobic comments and they're not even aware, so they may even learn from it.
As a last resort, you may want to report the company to the
appropriate local or state authorities. In most places, there are no
workplace protections for LGBT people, but that doesn't mean we can't
speak up. Of course the down side of this action is: You probably won't
get the job. But did you still want it.