If you haven’t been following actor and comedian Leslie Jordan’s Instagram feed throughout the coronavirus pandemic, you have been missing out on a beacon of light and levity. The 64-year-old self-described “pocket gay” has been sharing a running commentary while sheltering in place in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Jordan is already well known for his roles on such shows as American Horror Story and Will & Grace, and his efforts to help people laugh and smile during the pandemic have catapulted him to Instagram sensation status. Jordan used his new Internet fame to celebrate a particularly momentous Pride Month in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision.
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A Powerful Platform
On June 4, 2020, to celebrate Pride Month, Jordan released an Instagram video of him joyously dancing to “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes. Although Jordan’s videos are filled with humor (particularly his post about the pronunciation of Kissimmee, Florida), he also uses his new platform to call for inclusivity and equality.
For example, Jordan recently invited Deesha Dyer, former White House social secretary to President Barack Obama, to use his Instagram account to speak about the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Jordan states in his June 4 post, “Although we are having a different discussion in our country right now, it is very much the same. Always call out inequality when you see it, and take the necessary steps to make our world more inclusive. We’ve got this. Happy Pride, y’all; remember this rainbow has many colors.”
Title VII a Big Win During Pride Month
Jordan’s words mark a particularly historic Pride Month, with the Supreme Court’s June 15, 2020, decision holding that Title VII (the federal law prohibiting employment discrimination based on sex, race, and other protected characteristics) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status.
Justice Neil Gorsuch (author of the majority opinion) wrote, “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
Employers should take prompt action to review and update their policies and procedures to ensure sexual orientation and transgender status are included in their equal opportunity and antiharassment policies and training, with clear procedures (including multiple avenues) for reporting concerns.
Employers should also take this opportunity to audit their investigation practices and take prompt remedial and preventive action. Of course, fostering a work environment prioritizing diversity and inclusion is key.
In the meantime, Jordan’s t-shirt (for which a portion of the proceeds are going to support organizations promoting equal rights) sums it up: “Love. Light. Leslie.”