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Galley Gossip: Why are so many male flight attendants gay?
Scary flights. International layovers. Old flight attendants. Gay flight attendants. In that order these four topics often arise whenever someone who doesn't work for an airline finds out what I do for a living. I have no problem discussing my job. In fact I love sharing interesting stories and helpful travel tips with those who are interested. While sexual preference has nothing to do with the job, the fact is a majority of male flight attendants are not straight and people want to know why.
I've never felt comfortable writing about coworkers whom I see as colleagues and friends, not gays. But because so many people seem truly curious I asked a few flight attendants who are openly gay if they'd be willing to write something about the subject that I could print here. Without hesitation, they agreed to share their thoughts. Unfortunately I never heard back from them after our flight. So I decided to do the next best thing and contact my friend, and coworker, Brian, author of the blog Straight Guy in the Queer Skies, to hear what his thoughts were on why there are so few straight men in our profession. Here's what he wrote...
The industry is already gay friendly, so it only makes sense that the next generation of flight attendants will be gay as well. Every confused, awkward gay teen going through puberty, desperate to fit in during high school, dreams of being a flight attendant. It's the promised land! This could be why the job may not seem as appealing to straight men. Some "straights" don't like working with "gays", while others might be nervous that the general public will perceive them as gay, so the majority of straight males stay away from the profession. Some guys just aren't secure enough in their masculinity, or maybe they don't want to always fight that battle every time someone asks what their profession is.
There are gay men in every profession, but there are certainly some arenas that are more accepting of gays than others. The service industry is one of those areas where gay men are very much accepted and do a fantastic job. Most of us straight boys aren't nearly as good when it comes to customer service. I'm not sure why this is and I don't really care. All I know is working under the customer service umbrella in some ways is like being a performer; you're in the spotlight. You do things and all eyes are on you. You say things and everyone listens. The world is your stage. This might not be appealing to most straight men.
I never wanted to be a flight attendant. I graduated from college and was trying to figure out what to do next when my mother suggested I apply to an airline because her cousin worked for one, the same one I work for now. I doubt I would've pursued it on my own but my mom went behind my back and sent in my application without me knowing. A week later she told me I had a flight I needed to show up for and an interview in another city. I didn't have anything else to do that day so I just went with it. Even after I got the job, I didn't really think it was something I'd want to do for very long. I didn't think I'd fit in. I stuck with it though and eventually I grew to love it. But that's how randomly I got into the business. I would have never come up with this occupation on my own. I don't think it's something straight men really think of whilst contemplating their career path.
The most honest answer is the reason why people do anything. Why start a band? Why go out for a sports team in high school? Why buy a Corvette? Why get out of the bed in the morning? Why shower? You do it in hopes of getting laid. Gay men know there are a million opportunities for fun on and off the plane provided by the job, therefore they apply for it.
Photo courtesy of Augapfel