All too often, marginalized people are expected to bend over backwards to forgive people who behave in a bigoted manner towards them.
A gay man on Reddit got into drama with his coworkers over this sort of situation after he refused to accept the apology of a colleague who went on a homophobic rant.
He wasn’t sure about how to handle things, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by This_Eye_4799 on the site, asked:
“AITA for not accepting the apology of a coworker”
“This one is rather short.”
“A bit of background: My team recently had a rather lengthy online meeting. During lunch break some of us stayed online to chat a little bit. After mentioning my boyfriend (gay relationship), one of our newest coworkers had a very negative rant about homosexual relationships. Despite multiple people telling him to stop talking, he kept going until the host of the meeting returned.”
“The coworker was pulled out of the meeting and the next day we were informed that he was getting pulled out of our project and essentially demoted. Our manager also told me that the coworker wants to apologize to me directly infront of the team, since his outburst was mostly directed towards me (also the only gay on the team).”
“To the question: I told him and my manager not to bother with any apology since I don’t believe it would be sincere in anyway and pretty much only motivated to avoid more severe repercussions.”
“That sparked a discussion, my manager and some coworkers told me I should just go with it and let him apologize to let him save some face, others are saying I’m downright an a** because everyone should have the chance to redeem themselves and some coworkers agree with me that an insincere apology is worthless.”
People on Reddit were then asked to judge who is in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories.
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
As you might expect, they were nearly all on OP’s side on this one.
“Apologies are not magic beans you can plant to access a world where you get what you want.”
“I seriously doubt the demotion changed the homophobic views coworker was comfortable spouting, so the apology is, as you say, likely insincere.” —danooli
“I hate fake public apologies. The coworker said what he said unprompted! He can live with the consequences. Your company can not force you to sit for that and ‘forgive him’. Say this was emotionally traumatic and you need to address it privately.” —Hilary_13
“If it was even a pretend sincere apology why does it have to be in front of everyone though? To embaress op more with their own dramatics. If they want to save face they should be willing to apologize to op without an audience.” —SageRabbits
“I’m sure the apology would be entirely sincere. It just wouldn’t be an apology worth hearing. Cause the subtext is way more important than the text in this case.”
“Apology worth hearing: ‘I’m so sorry I said those things. I’ve seen the error of my ways and I realize now how hurtful it was to you, and I want to you know that I no longer think those things and will never say anything like that every again’ usually from someone younger who learned homophobic tendencies from a parents without understanding what it meant at the time and is legitimately repentant.”
“This coworkers apology: ‘I’m so sorry that I said those things in front of people who were not like minded and got called out for it. I never meant to jeopardize my career like that. I realize now that I should keep my homophobic rantings outside the workplace and to groups of likeminded people so as to not further negatively impact my own life'”
“Absolutely NTA OP.” —JCYN-DDT
“I guarantee that it didn’t change his co-worker’s views, but maybe it taught them to not to discuss their beliefs that openly at work. Unfortunately it probably also made that person resent gay people even more.”
“Public apologies don’t mean much, and this seems like punishment not atonement. There’s no helping some people. Definitely NTA.” —Soylent_Milk2021
“Unless an apology is sincere it is not really an apology. This just sounds like the coworker definitely wants to get out of more severe repercussions, not like they have had a change of heart and understand that they screwed up royally.”
“If they want to apologize in front of everyone it is definitely, 100%, to save face in front of their coworkers. Doesn’t sound like they actually care about apologizing or putting in the effort to understand those who they feel are different. This likely won’t be the last time they say homophobic things about OP, just the last time they say it in front of OP.” —mkat23
“NTA agreed. If he wants to apologize publicly so badly tell the company he can apologize to the team he screwed over. Who knows what the effect of removing a member of the team might be. Does everyone have more work for a few weeks? Are they in danger of missing a deadline? Etc.” —amireal42
“That a relatively new employee felt that they could go on a rant around a group of other employees says that he’s already an entitled jerk and the apology would mean nothing. He’s just trying to save his a**. Hopefully, he will leave. NTA.” —babcock27
“Right, what does the demotion accomplish? Dude still works at the company.”
“OP, I would report the incident to HR, the homophobic rant followed by your manager forcing you to interact with the coworker further thru the apology. This whole thing screams lawsuit to me. NTA” —wsr3ster
After reading his fellow Redditors’ comments, OP came back with an update on how he planned to handle things.
“Edit: Seems pretty clear so far. One thing I want to add: I will not do the whole ‘Make him apologize and then reject it publicly’. That just seems like extra drama to me.”
Hopefully OP’s can avoided being subjected to any further run-ins with this bigoted coworker in the future.