I HAVE BEEN TOLD I DESERVE
“A FULL LIFE THAT ISN’T JUST ABOUT FIGHTING FOR THINGS”

Simon Doonan:

What are the biggest career hurdles that you’ve had to overcome?

I never really thought about it in those terms. I went into retail and specifically window display. There were plenty of gay people in those professions and gay people are identified with those professions, so it wasn’t like I went into a super-straight environment like sports or Wall Street and then had to sort of persuade everybody that I was competent. I went into a super-gay professional environment and just sort of threw myself at it creatively, and that bore fruit for me.

Has [being gay] ever played a role in your career?

Well, I think with my writing, which is part of what I do, sometimes people don’t take it seriously if they think that you’re gay. In the past, like when I got one of my books reviewed in the New York Times, the reviewer described me as foppish and superficial. I thought it was kind of funny at first, and then I realized he was reviewing me and not the book. I think that can happen if you’ve always been out. Because I’ve always been out, and sometimes people don’t take me so seriously. They’re more likely to take a gay woman seriously, whereas with a gay man they think, “Oh yeah, he’s probably creative or funny” or whatever. Maybe a lesbian is more likely to be thought of as having some kind of professional gravitas. […]

Incidentally, the fagnonomics research bears out at least the latter point: A small handful of studies have speculated that lesbians have better outcomes in male-dominated fields (where they are already overrepresented) because men feel they have masculine characteristics. By implication, lesbians are not viewed as Basic Instinct–style sexual conquistadoresses of the workplace.

The idea of surfing people’s opinions about me in a sort of random way or people’s speculations – I don’t think that’s a good key to success. I think there are people totally distracted with Facebook and social media, and it is going to inhibit their success…. The culture of distraction and social media can be very corrosive. […]

Go out and get a job in the store. It gets you out there where you meet other people…. Especially if you are feeling a bit marginal – if you’re a gay or transgender person who feels marginalized, in retail you’re not marginalized. I’ve said to so many people, “Why don’t you get a job at a store?” They look at me like I’m giving them some third-rate idea, and then I say, “Listen, I work in a store, and I’ve always worked in a store!”

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.03.26 15:33. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2011/03/26/doonanism/

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