Whistle While You Work

Article excerpt

When we talk about our jobs, it's most often to complain. Whether we're kvetching about our hours, our pay, or our bosses, most of us would rather do anything but work. With that in mind, The Advocate set out to find people who feel quite the opposite--who actually love their jobs. Following are ten such people: people who not only enjoy their work but have no trouble with being openly gay while doing it

Mariah Burton Nelson AGE: 44 HOME: Arlington, Va. JOB: Author-professional speaker ANNUAL INCOME: Not given

MARIAH BURTON NELSON says she expresses herself best in two ways: through her books and through her speeches, She enjoys characteristics of both jobs too: the solitude of writing and the feedback from appreciative audiences.

She addresses a variety of topics, While she often discusses her success in women's basketball (she was the leading scorer for four years at Stanford University and played professionally in both France and the United States in the late '70s and early '80s), she says her passion is the subject of forgiveness, Burton Nelson says she strives to be both entertaining (her most controversial book was called The Stronger Women Get, The More Men Love Football) and inspirational (her latest is The Unburdened Heart: Five Keys to Forgiveness and Freedom), Whether writing or speaking, she says she speaks honestly as an out lesbian and as a sexual-abuse survivor.

Frank Loulan AGE: 48 HOME: Phoenix JOB: Yardmaster, Union Pacific Railroad ANNUAL INCOME: About $60,000

Frank Loulan has been working the rail-road for nearly 30 years. He switches inbound trains and prepares outbound ones. He likens his job to a jigsaw puzzle in which none of the pieces are the same.

Each day brings a new challenge. Once he coordinated efforts to intercept runaway cars. Another highlight was more personal: In the mid 1990s a switchman repeatedly broadcast the word "faggot" over his walkie-talkie. After labor relations officials got involved in the matter, it never happened again, and today Loulan says his sexuality is no longer an issue at work.

His coworkers are attracted to the railroad work because the pay is excellent. Although he says most of them have otherwise had little exposure to gay people, they realize that his sexuality doesn't affect his performance at work. And on this job, that's the bottom line.

Sandy Sachs AGE: 39 HOME; West Hollywood, Calif. JOB: Co-owner, the Factory nightclub ANNUAL INCOME: "Six figures."

Lesbian Sandy Sachs runs a gay dance club in the middle of "Boys Town USA"--West Hollywood, Calif. Her job title is co-owner, which means that she does everything, she says--including managing a staff of 50 and marketing and booking the club for photo and video shoots as well 'as for movie premieres. (She hosted Pedro Almodovar's Academy Awards party last year.) She also donates use of her club for political fundraisers and charitable events to benefit nonprofit organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Sachs says she loves all her responsibilities because she knows she has created a facility where people can enjoy themselves. After ten years at the club, her favorite part of the workday is actually at night, when she sees people smiling, dancing, and screaming out words to the songs they love. Her next-favorite part, Sachs says while laughing, comes when she counts the money.

Dan Sealy AGE: 48 HOME: Bethesda, Md. JOB: Natural resource manager-park ranger, National Park Service, George Washington Memorial Parkway ANNUAL INCOME: About $50,000

WHETHER TAKING INVENTORY of plants and animals, sending fire-fighters to the fire-ravaged West (and sometimes fighting fires himself), or showing schoolchildren a bald eagle, Dan Sealy says he is a happy man, Working each day with "the greatest, most dedicated group of people"--rangers, resource managers, maintenance workers, interns, volunteers, and visitors--he follows the lead of his inspirations: John Muir, David Brower, and his parents. …