While the world's greatest seafaring empire was unabashedly founded on the back of "rum, sodomy, and the lash," it seems even a bit of risque talk can cost one a seafaring job these days. And by "risque" we don't mean in-depth conversations about rum or the lash.
The Harvey Milk LGBT club and Pride at Work are holding a noontime rally today at Pier 33 in support of Vincent Atos, a former deckhand on Hornblower's Alcatraz cruises, who claims he was last year dismissed for "acting too gay." Perhaps not incidentally, Atos was also a union organizer.
"What it was alleged Vincent did was make inappropriate sexual comments in the workplace of a gay nature," says David Waggoner, a lawyer and co-president of the Milk Club. "But many of his co-workers routinely made comments of a sexual nature that were heterosexual. One of his managers even viewed porn in the workplace. So this highly sexualized workplace was the norm. ... He was fired essentially because he was a gay union organizer."
Calls to Hornblower's attorney, Katie Patton Acevedo, have not yet been returned.
Atos worked for Hornblower from September of 2006 to November of last year. He filed a complaint regarding his dismissal with the city's Human Rights Commission, which is investigating his allegations that his open homosexuality led to him being tossed overboard, so to speak.
When asked if Atos would still be at sea if he were a straight union organizer, Waggoner chuckled. "Good question."