…which is all well and good, but it still rankles just a bit.
I can usually make it through days ending in ‘y’ without having to come out to somebody, but it definitely happens more than once a year. As a cis white man with no behaviors that scream ‘gay!’ to the uninitiated, I’m not as likely to experience anti-LGBT prejudice as most community members, but I do have to tell people I’m gay an awful lot.
I’m not saying that this is an actual burden, relatively speaking. But I’m definitely not alone in being a little annoyed by the official annual reminder that it’s not my world, I just live in it. It can be so stressful that, when I was in college, the observance was delayed by two weeks, so that people could get settled into the semester before having to deal with it.
National Coming Out Day began in 1988, on the premise that visibility is good, which is true. Many did not know that they knew an LGBT person. This is the case for fewer people nowadays, but still too many. So, in the spirit of the holiday, I will get the ball rolling: Hi! I’m a gay man! (More of a Kinsey five, but who’s counting.)
(h/t Sister Golden Bear, who reminded me to write something!)
In other gay news, bonus Elizabeth Warren below the fold.
.@ewarren responding to the idea that marriage is between one man and one woman:
“Well I’m gonna assume it’s a guy who said that. And I’m gonna say then just marry one woman… assuming you can find one.”
The crowd is beside itself. ??? pic.twitter.com/IBaIm8Pp88
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) October 11, 2019
Slay, queen, etc., in the parlance of our times.
I heard a kind of funnier version a few (maybe more?) years ago, at a speech by Julianne Malveaux. Her version was “If you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person.”
Go Elizabeth Warren! That was wonderful.
Warren’s timing on that was fantastic. She is really growing on me.
To the main point, for years I had a Keith Herring black and white version of NCOD (person stepping out of closet) 5″ x 5″ bumper sticker.
Apparently it was too subtle! I sold the car to my neighbor’s brother, a nice married straight man. He never asked about the sticker nor removed it. Maybe he was a ally. I certainly think he was not a homophobe.
But I always thought he just didn’t really get it. (The car and bumper were white so it stood out even less).
Comment got ate.
“Let’s say you’re on the campaign trail, and a supporter approaches you and says, ‘Senator, I’m old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that I must wear the flayed skin of a human sacrifice on Tlacaxipehualiztli so that Xipe Totec may usher in the new season.’ What is your response?”
I could come up with these all day, but of course, there’s only one religion that gets the kid glove treatment for its (barely supported by scripture) beliefs.
The best part is really how dismissive she is of the argument against marriage equality.
I’ve said “if you are against gay marriage then don’t gay marry” to people but to hear it from a Presidential candidate is refreshing.
@glory b: Not so funny for the wives of gay men who didn’t come out. I know a few of them.
I guess as a straight white woman I don’t understand; why would you have to tell someone you’re gay? (honest question) I would never ask someone such a thing, or make assumptions about them in that way. I figure it’s mostly none of my business who other people want to have sex with unless I want to date them (which I wouldn’t now, since I’m married).
That question was a gift. She had literally no answer when asked what her policies were for POC and other answers were weak, but this one liner is the only sound bite from all nine town halls.
I saw that comment in a Twitter stream, where someone further down linked to a debate clip in which Warren said something like “Why are we talking about things we can’t do and shouldn’t do?” but it didn’t include the comment she was responding to. Would someone be so kind as to help me out with the background here?
@glory b: It’s that simple, right? Nah, but people gotta be assholes…
/wave, hi hi!
@Sab: I’ve got a friend whose husband decided, at the age of 60, that he wanted to make the transformation from male to female. He had known for a long time that he felt like he was a woman, but he was raised Catholic in a conservative part of the country, so he suppressed it for a long time. They had counselling in the late 1980’s because he was cross-dressing. He promised to quit doing it, but didn’t. (I used male pronouns because I’m talking about the time he was living as a man, for anyone who wonders). What I told my friend, who was devastated by the whole thing (her husband thought she would want to stay married, mostly because her husband didn’t want to have to divide their assets!), is that I want people to be able to be who they are so that things like this don’t happen to people. My friend asked her husband why he married her in the first place if he felt like this (evidently since he was 17); he said he thought he could suppress it since he was told it was wrong, and he wanted a family. So I do agree, not as funny for the wives and husbands of people who are affected by people feeling that they need to stay in the closet. Had a devastating effect on their daughter, who has not talked to or seen her father since she found this out. I hope for all their sakes that eventually she will come around to reality.
Villago Delenda Est
Major Major Major, I do not give a flying fuck if you’re straight or gay. It’s none of my business.
West of the Rockies
@Soprano2: 4M is a handsome devil! Women be lining up around the block to get with him!
You know who REALLY has it tough? As a cis white guy, I always…//
@glory b: I think the better part of the dig was the last line “-assuming you can find one.” Because that completely fits how so many moral scolds actually live – alone with their hatred and jealousy of others who actually manage to create meaningful human relationships.
@Soprano2: Here’s the thing. Assume you are inviting me and my spouse to dinner. The general assumption (since I am a man) is that my spouse is a woman. But my spouse is actually a man. So saying “you and your wife should come over for dinner” is actually sort of making a big assumption. This is when I have to tell you “I am gay.” Otherwise, you would commit a faux pas without even knowing it.
Now take this one example and expand it throughout one’s life. The number of times there is an implicit heterosexual assumption in social relations are legion. “Coming out” is in some ways is a way for people to avoid these sorts of awkward situations. It’s not so much about having sex as it is about having a more open social life. . . . And not unknowingly stepping on the toes of friends because you are (socially) assuming they are straight, when in fact they aren’t – and they might want to introduce you to their partner/spouse/significant other without it becoming too dramatic.
Major Major Major Major
Most people aren’t like that. I wear a wedding ring and get asked about my wife, for instance.
Or, if you’re checking in to a hotel room with a significant other and they ask if you would like to change to a room with two beds. Or any time you have to give other information about a SO. Crossing a border, filling a prescription…
People assume you’re straight in a hundred different ways; you probably don’t notice.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Thanks for reading ?
@Bobby Thomson: There was also Beto’s unfortunate “let’s remove tax-exempt status from churches that don’t like gay people” moment. (I didn’t watch, and can’t find info about the flub you mention, but here’s Warren’s LGBT plan that mentions POC a lot https://www.towleroad.com/2019/10/elizabeth-warren-lgbtq-plan/)
@Soprano2: Because if you’re single people ask if you’ve got a girlfriend/boyfriend (whatever the opposite gender is). If you say you’re married people ask what your wife/husband does, or is from, or whatever (depending on your gender). People constantly assume that you’re straight and you have to correct them or stay silent and leave them with the wrong understanding of who you are.
Because it’s an important part of who I am, it’s not just about the bedroom, and I would rather people know I’m gay than assume I’m straight.
Straight people don’t have to tell anyone they’re straight because that is the “default” in our culture.
Comrade Colette Collaboratrice
@Villago Delenda Est: I’m gonna blurt this out in my usual awkward and inadequate way: M4, I do give a flying fuck (but not literally, that would hurt my back) that you’re gay, because it’s my responsibility from my position of relative privilege in this world to see you and to see everyone who’s different from me – different from what we used to maliciously or negligently call “normal.” It’s on me to recognize and make a place, and help make everywhere a place, for all the humans who shouldn’t be forced to wedge into some corner of a Mayberry world of happy straight white guys.
This reminds me of the thing Warren is having to deal with about being fired (forced to resign) for being pregnant: Do people really not know that the world was significantly different than it is now not that long ago, that here have been significant changes in the lifetimes of may people alive today? In 1988, you could get beaten up or killed for being gay, and most people wouldn’t really care because they didn’t know – mostly didn’t know they knew – a gay person.
Note how many conservative politicians suddenly have a change of heart about gays when they find out a son or daughter is. Now imagine that’s the state of 2/3 of the country as it was in 1988. Telling someone you’re gay wasn’t done to flaunt it, it was actually to get people on board with the idea that gays have been around a while and the world hasn’t fallen apart.
Making it to where people don’t have to tell others actually requires people to acknowledge that their lives will be unaffected. But with a couple of hundred years of “Christian” conditioning, they’re going to have to overcome it by experience. By telling others, gays were taking a significant risk, but not doing it would have just left they way people were taught unchallenged.
I laughed at “assuming you can find one” but I wish she hadn’t said it. She’s going to have to appeal to nervous, insecure men in the general and if they feel like she’s making fun of them for not being able to get a date, that won’t be helpful.
??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??
I can imagine it could get pretty annoying. Sexual orientation shouldn’t define somebody and I think a lot of cis-straight people let sexual orientation do just that, and they end up treating their gay friends/family differently, for better and worse. Better in that they stop saying dumb homophobic “jokes” (shouldn’t have been using them in the first place, but I digress..) for example, and worse in that they can’t see past sexual orientation sometimes and it becomes a person’s defining trait
@Soprano2: There are basically three reasons I come out to people.
First because it is annoying having to do constant pronoun shifts when talking about life. “What does your boyfriend do?” “They…”
Second is as a political act since knowing a gay person helps reduce opposition for gay-friendly policies.
Third is as a degree of self-protection. Most people watch what they say a little more closely and don’t use as many anti-gay phrases. Obviously this can go the other way too, which is why coming out in any situation is a judgment call and having to make a lot coming out decisions is exhausting.
Dorothy A. Winsor
I’m still working on finding ways around my engrained assumptions. My grad students taught me to say “partner” rather than husband or wife, and that’s been useful, both because it reminds me to watch my assumptions and it signals to the listener that they don’t have to explain.
But I’m reading Ann Leckie’s THE RAVEN TOWER and I find myself really wanting to know the gender of a character whom the narrator addresses as the gender neutral “you.” It’s like that’s so basic to me that I can’t shake it.
We are all works in progress.
This is an honest question because I really don’t know the answer. But I’m curious how “coming out” has changed in recent years. It seems to me that the youth are going in a somewhat different direction with it today.
My 16 year old daughter is gay. And she is open about it. But if I asked her she would probably say something like “Dad. Dont be so binary”. It seems like kids today understand there is a whole spectrum and it isn’t just gay at one end and straight at the other with nothing inbetween. I’ve always sort of thought that a lot of people identifying as bi were really just gay but in half-denial. Now I’m just not opining on anyone else. Period.
But I have noticed that my daughter and her friends do not let themselves get pigeonholed into the same categories and stereotypes of those who have gone before. We recently went on some college tours here on the west coast and generally introductions by the campus guides and other students came along with announcements of preferred pronouns. Which is something I’m still not entirely used to as it certainly isn’t what happens in the business world….yet.
I’m pretty sure this blog trends older and I’m curious if some of you older folk have noticed how fast these categories and definitions are changing in the young. And what you all think about that. My daughter, for example, would NEVER use the term Lesbian. She says she’s “gay” or sometimes “pan” or “LGBT” or sometimes “queer” And she doesn’t dress in any way that would get coded one way or the other. Mostly she dresses vaguely anime-influenced.
As an aside, my wife has been so ultra tiger-mom supportive that I think my daughter kind of just rolls her eyes with her friends. She doesn’t want to see and do *every* LGBT thing that pops up. Sometimes she just wants to watch anime or go to the mall. Heh.
Coming out day was a reaction to the AIDS epidemic. In ‘88 the total count was around 40,000 and the next year would see that number more than double. It was a dark time to be gay. Gays were disease carrying faggots that were getting what they deserved. God was showing his wrath. Gays need to be quarantined. The only TV appearances of gay men where wasted bodies waiting to die or angry ACT UP activists. Coming out was letting your family know that this could be you. It put a personal face on the disease.
ps For the last ten years or so people ask me and my husband, “Are you guys brothers?’
@Belafon: Thank you for this. People that came out in the 80’s and before deserve credit for their courageousness. Too many people don’t remember the AIDS crisis and the government inaction around it.
Major Major Major Major
@delk: “SILENCE = DEATH” and all, yeah. It’s a way of burdening lgbt people with our own salvation, but sometimes that’s just necessary.
@Bobby Thomson:If I recall, she had about 5/6 questions. I thought the answer showcased in the clip above was great. I thought her remarks on the hypocrisy of people of faith being bigoted towards LGBTQ folks was good (this spoke to her upbringing & her history on the issue). I though her answer to the transgender student on how to improve our schools & education policies for the LGBTQ community was great. I thought her answer on leveraging the US’s economic clout through trade negotiations to promote global human rights was great. I think you are right that her POC question response could have been better–yes, homelessness is a much greater issue for this population but not the only one, but her entire response was about homelessness & providing funding for safe spaces and did not address anything else. I think her response on the SCOTUS case was okay but as has been pointed out by others, the LGBTQ rights legislation that she said would be moot if LGBTQ rights were upheld by SCOTUS (in the case they are hearing now) actually does go further & should still be pursued no matter what the court decides. To that end, her comments regarding needing more D senators and getting rid of the filibuster to pass legislation through the Senate were also right on target. She straight out admitted she was wrong when she said a few years ago that she thought spending money on gender-reassignment surgery for folks in prison was not a good use of tax payer money. And this is just my interpretation but she seemed to imply that her thinking has now come around to “if a person believes they needs treatment/health care to improve their lives then they should be able to get that healthcare period.” I think that was about all of her segment.
I watched five of the segments. I thought everyone I watched did a pretty good job: Harris, O’Rourke, Mayor Pete, Klobacher, and Booker. None of them was perfect, however.
Hi Mx4! Nice to meet you too. I agree, visibility is key to understanding and even wider acceptance. Like Belaphon said sometimes people don’t realize or recognize the recent gains that have been made by minority groups over the years towards this goal.
Major Major Major Major
No, no, we must burn the heretics, it’s the only way they’ll learn.
@Kent: There are a lot of gay women that don’t like the term lesbian. I think because it is a noun. My preference for women is merely one aspect of who I am. It’s an adjective, like blonde or funny.
@West of the Rockies: I hate to be that guy but…
Once a friend of mine bet me I couldn’t get a date with a girl before he could in a bar. Took me all of five minutes.
And I’m average looking at best. Oh and he never did pay up.
Gin & Tonic
It doesn’t have to be of the form of announcing “hey, I’m gay”, but of being comfortable enough of the people and the environment to, say, put a picture of your partner on your desk at work. I think of a woman I worked with for 30 or so years – it seemed pretty obvious to me that she was gay, although she never came out and said anything, but after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, a while later our quarterly company newsletter, in the section with birth, graduation, etc. announcements, ran a picture of her and her spouse at their wedding. Nobody made a big deal about it, it was just like other wedding announcements. Was that “coming out”? I guess. Was it “necessary” for her? She had seen other wedding photos over the many years, and just posted hers like any other employee would.
Others have said it better, but here’s another example of why it matters.
Back in the late aughts, my friend and her girlfriend decided to get married after being partners for nearly a decade. Marriage hadn’t been a priority for them, but same sex marriage had been legal in Canada for a short while and had just been legalized in some states, and so their marriage was a sort of fist bump of solidarity to their queer siblings in the US still fighting for their rights. (Akin to not taking the franchise for granted because others in the world are still fighting for their right to vote.)
They got married at city hall, and the clerk got all embarrassed when he handed them the form to fill out. With a red face, he apologized profusely that their forms were old and hadn’t been updated yet, so they still had spots for the “husband” and the “wife” to fill out. They all had a bit of a laugh over it, and he congratulated them and wished them a happy marriage together. But of course it was still a reminder that their ability to be out and proud and have the same rights as others were still new.
@Bobby Thomson: It’s the “How long should a man’s legs be?” for the 21st Century?
@Uncle Cosmo: As far as I recall from first person watching Warren’s segment yesterday she never used the words “Why are we talking about things we can’t do & shouldn’t do” in any of her responses. The closest I think she came to this was in her response to how to get equality legislation through the Senate. She said that if SCOTUS ruled in favor of the LGBTQ side in the case they are hearing now that the legislation would be unnecessary (which I actually disagree with as the legislation goes further than the current legal protections) but then went on to say if the SCOTUS ruling went the other way that we’d definitely need to elect more D senators (because one, you need the votes, and two you need to demonstrate to R senators that LGBTQ issues motivate voters) and get rid of the filibuster.
IIRC you and your wife lived some yrs in Waco.
I hope you all now live in a much better place for your daughter.
@Major Major Major Major: Preach.
Hey are you aware of the book/series Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel)?
If not, I think you might enjoy them. I buy my brother books for Xmas and these will be under the tree for him. Also, the story of how the author got the book (self)published is a good one as well.
Here’s Ben Shapiro’s death threat if LGBT rights are “forced” on bigots like him.
He should be banned from all forums.
@Gretchen: If they are that touchy, I doubt they would vote for a woman in any case.
It’s starting in the business world. The place where I work (which, granted, is on the tail end of the distribution on this stuff, but still is a pretty big business by most standards) started giving everyone the option to put our pronouns in our email sigs earlier this year. I did it, even though my pronouns are exactly what you’d expect, to help normalize that kind of disclosure. (So far, nobody has asked me about it, but that’s fine. Just seeing them helps at least a little bit.)
??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??
Does that dweeb even have any children? I just can’t see it
@Major Major Major Major: Preach.
Btw, are you familiar with this book series: Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel)?
I finished the first 3 (the 4th & final one is in progress) & plan to give them to my brother for Xmas (I do prereads/vetting for his SF & Fantasy books). If not, I think you might like it (has a victorian/steampunk X fantasy vibe) and the story of how it came to be (self)published is a good one as well.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@randy khan: Good idea. I just went to twitter and FB and added pronouns to my bio. Thanks for the reminder.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: John Scalzi has a pair of books about a main character whose gender you do not know. Their name is non-gendered, their gender is not mentioned once. Once you realize that this person may not be the gender you assumed, you also realize that it doesn’t matter because the story is good. Lock In and Head On. Everyone laughed about the second book’s title because of that ridiculous ad for a headache medicine, but it does fit the story. Both books are mysteries set far in the future.
@Kent: If you’d said your daughter was five years older, I’d suspect you were my husband sneaking onto the blog to comment behind my back, so similar are the descriptions and observations! Regarding language and terms, I try to keep up, but it’s not always easy. I’m more than willing to call people what they want to be called, though I do struggle with referring to an individual as “they” because the plural aspect of the pronoun is so ingrained in my mind. I don’t personally know anyone with that pronoun preference, but if I did, I’d try to conform to their preferences, but I’d probably fuck up occasionally due to habit. There’s a lot I don’t understand, but IMO, the important thing is to try not to be an asshole, so I try, though I fail way too often.
@snco: All sorts of complications that don’t pop on mainstream radar. A gay friend going car shopping had one dealer tout a white-glove service: “manicures and pedicures at the dealer while your wife is having your car serviced.” Never mind the sexism implied in the assumed “Honey, can you take my car to the shop today?” discussion, explaining that your S.O. is male and doesn’t care much for that kind of grooming gets awkward – fast. And no, he didn’t buy from that dealer, and that “offering” was a large part of the decision to go elsewhere.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@opiejeanne: Thanks. I’m loading books onto my kindle in preparation for a month of traveling. I just downloaded LOCK IN.
@Patricia Kayden: That creature has children???
@Kent: YES. This very much resonates with my experience as well. I am maybe on the younger side of in the middle for this blog, and I am the parent of a kid who has asked for they/them pronouns since kindergarten (basically, since they found out that such pronouns existed). Also in the course of my daily life I encounter a fair number of people who are just out of high school/just entering college.
Among the maybe 20 and under set, at least here in our Bay Area bubble, it’s gauche to even label your sexuality at all, in any context that is not strictly interpersonal. I get the feeling this is because it’s considered 1.) too personal, and 2.) these kids 100% reject being defined by sexual or even (binary) gender identity. Other than, maybe, using the term “queer” as a catch-all term for someone who is not cis and straight.
They have moved right past it while we grownups were sitting around trying to learn the terminology.
For an older generation of LGBTQ people, coming out and self-identifying was a political action. For this younger generation, NOT coming out is a political action, because among these young people it is deemed too irrelevant to even discuss.
@delk: There used to be a wonderful travel guide called “Are You Two… Together?” that covered dealing with holidays as a SSM couple. Some of the advice in it is still useful.
Growing up in a small southern town in the 1960s, there was a strange bifurcation in attitudes toward gay people. Being openly gay was socially toxic and resulted in a person being shunned, shamed, and derided , and at risk of physical abuse – YET there were some well-accepted members of the community whom everyone implicitly knew were closeted gays, but who discreetly avoided any words or behaviors confirming that fact. I am not gay myself, but most middle-school age upper-middle class kids in my home town took ballroom dancing lessons from a middle-age never-married dance instructor whom everyone darn well knew was gay (and not just from his chosen profession), but he was so careful to keep that aspect of himself discreet that everyone sort of went along with the pretense that he was one of those mysteriously asexual men of which there’s at least a handful of those in every small southern town. Lindsey Graham is a prime example of the sort of seemingly asexual southern men I’m talking about, though of course I have no proof whether Graham is a closeted gay presenting an asexual public face, or simply asexual. Nevertheless, in small-town southern society, the ability to maintain a credible asexual public face was crucial to whether such folks could remain a member of respectable society in defiance of implicit suspicions, or else got shunned and derided.
@??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??:
Why would Beto be raising Ben’s children? Can’t Ben raise his own children?
@opiejeanne: Speaking of gender representations in books, I am currently reading To Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. The setting is a person in the future (where gender specificity has been foresworn) writing about events a few hundred years earlier (yet a time a few hundred years in our future) and the text can get pretty confusing with the omniscient narrator alternately using first descriptive text (which generally but not always uses gendered language) then slipping into “authorial voice” which is not gendered. It ain’t an easy read but the story (and world building) are over the top amazing.
Can I borrow that for my headstone?
Major Major Major Major
@opiejeanne: Oh, wow, I never noticed that!
@Marcopolo: I shall put it on the list. Been chewing through some of the BJ recommendations lately. Read The Darwin Elevator last week (3/5 strong first effort will read sequel), reading The Goblin Emperor now (fun so far, but ARGH TRAD FANTASY SETTING). I’ve also got The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey to finish and I have Chuck Wendig’s craft book, Damn Fine Story, out from the library (I don’t like craft books as a rule but this one is great)
@??? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ??: Pretty sure he lives in a state where rapists can sue for custody. Does that make it seem more viable?
I feel exactly the same way about Ben Shapiro. Except I don’t have a gun. Or children.
Ben Shapiro should probably not come to my door nonetheless.
Met a husband and wife (both in their late twenties or early 30s) and they had a child which was four years old.
The child appeared to be male and when I asked the parents how old “he” was the response was that they do not assign gender labels. This was an interesting moment for me (age 53, with a 3.5 year old “son” who I would be totally fine with if any aspect of LGBTQ identity were chosen). With sincerity, I asked what sort of pronouns they used and was told “they“ and “them“. The only singular pronoun I could come up with for “How old is (blank)” was “it“ (hello: awkward!) which I asked about and they said was not something they used, but acknowledged that this was sometimes a challenge to find the right word if people do not know their child’s name.
Serious question: is there a gender neutral singular pronoun (at all, or that is preferred)?
I’m extremely supportive of LGBTQ people and issues and found this exchange fairly remarkable on several levels: for them (and their very progressive efforts), for me (about possible unacknowledged biases), and for the child who might not have a gender identity.
What is clear is that it is a whole new parenting-world for younger folks with kids. I’d enjoy hearing other perspectives on the topic of gender-neutral parenting from an early age, from those more familiar with this territory.
Sister Golden Bear
Soprano2: Why come out? For all the reasons that snco, Major Major Major Major, Yarrow, robmassing and others have mentioned.
But there’s a more profound reason as well. (I wrote this last night, so it’s not aimed at you personally.) As usual, my friend Helen Kramer explains things far more eloquently than I, about why today’s celebration is actually far more important for those who aren’t out, the invisible members of the LGBTQ+ community. Read this. Read this now (and sign up to support her Patreon):
As someone who’s transitioned and “accepted as the gender they are and who don’t want to be considered less of a man or a woman because of how they were designated at birth,” I confess that I’m always ambivalent about National Coming Day, International Transgender Day of Visibility, and being “visibly trans”? in general.
Because, while coming out as LGB puts the focus on who you are, coming out as T invariably puts focus on who you were. And too many folks aren’t willing to acknowledge who you are now. During this week’s Supreme Court hearing on LBGT+ anti-job discrimination protections, the Trump administration lawyers, who were arguably *against* protections, repeatedly referred to one of the plaintiffs, a trans woman, as “he.” Likewise this week I had a TERF* tell me to my (online) face, that I wasn’t a woman, and by extension I couldn’t possibly be a lesbian.**
I wish being trans were the third or fourth most interesting thing about me. But it’s not. Which is why, despite my ambivalences, I choose to be out and visible. Because, as Helen reminds us:
Again, read the whole thing. Read it now.
*TERF = Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (only the first part is true), who don’t believe that trans women are woman, and who have harassed and doxed trans women (and their allies) and work with social conservatives to discriminate against trans women. And nor, I don’t need to be polite or tolerant of those who deny my humanity and want to see me and my peers eradicated from public life.
**I actually identify as pansexual ?, but I was responding to the typical TERF squid ink that calling a TERF a TERF is misogynist and homophobic, and it was simpler to respond that as a woman I know from misogyny, and as lesbian I know from homophobia, and no, calling her out wasn’t either. (TERFs are usually also really biphobic/panphobic, and I didn’t want get my response derailed about that.)
Sister Golden Bear
@Sister Golden Bear: Halp! My previous comment is stuck in moderation.
I am loving all of these book recommendations. For the new website, can we please have a book club or book recommendation section/tag?
Pretty much I love Warren… But that answer left me cold, honestly. I didn’t get what was so great about it, other than her cheery midwestern delivery, which is delightful. I get it that misogyny is so baked into our society that it’s now considered OK to trash guys as a form of resistance, but from what I’ve seen, “conservative” women are just as likely to be assholes about marriage equality as men. I don’t know, maybe I’m being naive or overly sensitive about this. Also, that answer isn’t very nuanced. As many folks have pointed out, that’s what anyone working toward marriage equality has been saying from the beginning…
Major Major Major Major
Well, people have been using ‘they’ for centuries… many non-cis folks are fine with that if you don’t know.
Sister Golden Bear
For #NationalComingOutDay, I also wanted to talk about the weird duality I face.
As someone who’s “visibly trans,” I’m out of as a trans woman regardless of whether I want to be* or whether it’s safe for me.
But as a Femme, a feminine queer woman who (on the surface) can be mistaken for a hetero woman, and mostly-attracted-to-women pansexual, I’m having to come out over and over and over — especially in lesbian spaces — and often face having my identity challenged, if not actively erased. (Which is sadly also the experience of all too many of my fellow Femmes, as well as my bisexual/pansexual peers)
So ironically I come out to also assert those identities within the LGBTQ+ communities.
Thanks for the replies to my question. You’re right, most of those things would never come up in my life, so I don’t think about them. I guess I assumed that anyone who needed to know that information would already know you well enough to know it, if that makes any sense. I hadn’t thought about things like hotel reservations and the like. My hope is that the world will get better and better about things like that, so that people talk about “spouses” and “partners” way more rather than always assuming gender. I often say things like “mail carrier” rather than “postman” because I can’t assume the mail carrier is a man. It also drives me crazy that English doesn’t have a singular pronoun for people that’s non-gendered. We really, really need that for a number of reasons – it’s a huge hole in the English language. I guess it’s because the default pronoun used to be male unless you were talking about something “everyone just knew” women did, like being teachers or nurses. Now you cannot make any assumptions like that at all.
I’m pretty much a Kinsey 1, but I’m still wearing a “Love Is Love Is Love” shirt today.
“on the premise that visibility is good, which is true.”
I can’t say enough about how important I think this is. While obviously it should be everyone’s choice to reveal whatever they want about themselves to others, the sea-change in how our country as a whole feels about the LGBTQ community is almost certainly as a result of the sudden realization by many people that, previously unbeknownst to them, some of their friends and neighbors were gay. And then all of a sudden to them, LGBTQ persons were not some weird “other” but were just like everybody else in almost all ways.
Of course, this set off a virtuous circle where LGBTQ people were more accepted in society so more LGBTQ people felt comfortable to come, so more people found out they knew an LGBTQ person, so more people felt comfortable about the LGBTQ community and it became more accepted, so more people felt comfortable to come out, so even more people found out they knew an LBGTQ person, and therefore more people felt more comfortable about the LGBTQ community, so more people came out…
And the change has really been remarkable. Between 2004 and 2019 support for gay marriage went from 31-60 against to 61-31 for. Again, pretty amazing in just half a generation. And I would again give essentially all of the credit to the grassroots progress of just individuals becoming visible to their personal networks of friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
FWIW, “they” is also a singular pronoun, and had been for centuries until weirdo Victorians decided that English needed to follow Latin rules even though English is a non-gendered language because they said so, that’s why.
@Ladyraxterinok: Yes, we moved from Waco to the Portland suburbs about 4 years ago. We originally moved to Waco for my wife’s medical residency training but we were definitely not native Texans. But even a place like Waco in the Baptist heartland is changing. I taught at a big public HS and had lots of openly out students over the years I taught there. Huge majority of kids were generally supportive and those who weren’t knew to STFU. I had students with two moms and students with two dads. It wasn’t that unusual despite being Texas. One of my students who was a big football star and went on to play major college ball had two moms who were always the craziest boosters in the stands during games because it was Texas after all. Pretty much like everyone else, some gay kids were super popular, some were not. I think the kids who were not out were in the closet more because of their parents and churches and such, not because of their peers. I do think it was probably somewhat “cooler” to be a gay boy in HS than a gay girl though. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it is that a lot of straight girls like having male friends who are gay. There is something “cool” about that. But not really anyone straight seeks out female friends who are gay. Just my random observation from years in the HS classroom.
But yes, the Portland area is much better. We are across the river in the affluent suburban town of Camas WA but the schools and community are definitely more supportive and open. And my daughter definitely has a wider collection of friends than she did in TX. It was a good move for her and her future.
I do theatre. You meet MANY folks like that on stage.
And, yeah, I screw up occasionally, but you get slack if you do better afterwards.
Major Major Major Major
@Sister Golden Bear: Thanks as always for your heartfelt writings on LGBT topics!
Rudy Giuliani’s relationship with arrested men is subject of criminal investigation
So I guess this is a BOOM! for Rudy Coluudy (someone else’s nickname I like) and a big old Tick Tock for Trump?
I work at a place that serves, and employs, a huge number of LGBTQ folks, so I’ve been exposed to gender-appropriate language/pronoun preferences, and all kinds of gender expression, way more than lots of people. There are many parts I find awesome. I’ve taken to identifying myself as queer, when asked to choose, though at work it sometimes feels like a purity test: my current SO is cis-male, and I appear as cis-female, so that raises a whole lot of other assumptions about me that I don’t feel like I should have to clarify with coworkers. My favorite, though, was when I was talking to two coworkers and one said, “I thought you were a lesbian” and the other said “I thought you were straight.” Another coworker (who has become a good friend) declared, “You’re just bent.” And I like it that way.
I have to admit, I giggled at this, because it’s a very old trope that mixed-gender married couples start to look more and more alike the longer they’ve been married. ?
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Mnemosyne: I’m fine using “they” as singular if the person isn’t present. “What did they say?” sounds natural to me. But if the person is right there, it’s hard. “As Sue said, they can’t eat shell fish.” I stumble over that .
West of the Rockies
My very favorite teacher ever (7/8th grade English in 1974-6) was closeted. This was rural northern California. He only came out after retiring. We didn’t know because he spoke of being a widower and gave off few signs other than the very stereotypical love of show tunes. I am so glad things are better. Oh, they’re FARRRR from perfect, but perhaps the long arc of history bends also towards tolerance and equality? I would like to think so.
Major Major Major Major
@C Stars: Here’s the tag for book recommendation threads.
The best you can do in that situation would probably be, “And how old is your child?” Yes, it feels like you’re repeating yourself, but grammatically you’re kind of stuck repeating the noun if there’s no available pronoun.
ETA: “How old are they?” works, too.
I’m the same way. I’m perfectly happy to accommodate “they” but I still forget and it doesn’t come naturally for me. It would be cool if we had something like the oldstyle middle-English ‘thee, thou, thy, and thine” etc. to use. But maybe that’s just my liberal arts education leaking out. I know it’s not my place to say. Word meanings change. I remember growing up there used to be a men’s clothing store in Eugene called “The Gay Blade” and had a picture of musketeers on their sign. It was where you went for suits. Sometime in the early 70s that sign came down and they just became “The Blade”
@Marcopolo: Again – my impression was that the clip I saw farther down that Twitter thread was from one of the earlier debates, not from the same source as the gay marriage quip. Whoever linked it didn’t bother to include the comment Warren was responding to, & I wanted to know what it was.
Couple of comments re the clip in question: First, her assumption that the comment was from a man is unjustified. Plenty of women who belong to the more traditional & doctrinally rigid Christian denominations would have said exactly the same thing, or worse.
And the comeback got laughs from the crowd but IMHO may come back to haunt her. The clear implication is that any man who believes “marriage is between one man and one woman” is so worthless they probably won’t (& shouldn’t) be able to find a member of the opposite sex to marry. As I noted above, there are women (probably many of them) out there who’d agree with his sentiment.
IMO it would have been more reasonable to say something like
It wouldn’t have gotten the laugh but it also wouldn’t have needlessly dismissed someone for their religious beliefs.
I found Harris’ answer to how she would talk to more (relatively) conservative communities about marriage equality quite moving. Video here.
@BellyCat:@BellyCat: I know it seems overwhelming and intimidating at first (believe me on that) but it’s honestly not as hard as you might think. Use human pronouns (as opposed to “it”) and switch in the terms they, them, and theirs exactly the same way you would in any other context, with verb agreement. You can think of it as the way you likely use “they/them” on a regular basis for a person whose gender you just don’t know. For instance,
“How old are they?” (honestly, how would you say this if you insisted on gendering an unknown person? “How old is he or she?” This is an awkward construction; singular they is really the only way this sentence makes sense, and if you extrapolate from that usage to everything else, it’s much easier to start using they/them in a singular way)
“Does your kid like pizza, or are they more into hamburgers?”
“Is this your child? I found their lunchbox on the schoolyard”
“Would you tell that kid their lunchbox is by the door?”
I don’t know about kids not having a gender identity; that’s not how I would describe my 9-year-old. They have an identity, and part of that is gender I suppose–it’s just that from the day they could express an opinion, they have been vigorously rejecting the idea that their gender must be defined in a predetermined way. That there are specific clothes they have to wear or toys they’re expected to play with, or roles they’re supposed to take on, all based on, well, their genitals (because that’s basically what we’re telling kids, right? If you have a vagina, head for the princess dresses, and hey, good luck if you want to try to take the football away from the guys…if you have a penis, you’ll be ridiculed and unsafe if you try on the princess dresses, and here dude, take this football and man up)
In the case of my kid, it honestly caused a lot of grief for us as a family in the early years, because we didn’t have a name for this either. Lot’s of weird/hard discussions with our kid, with doctors, with our extended family, etc. At some point our kid decided there wasn’t really a place in this life for them, and had, according to the notes we found, planned out a detailed and effective escape route.
So after we realized that the gender binary was basically killing our child, we started to educate ourselves about this issue…and then miraculously at the same time their childcare center hired a babysitter who was nonbinary and used they/them pronouns and it all kind of fell into place after that.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
I don’t have too much trouble with “they” BUT I grew up in the “Free To Be You and Me” era when the strict he/she was starting to break down anyway.
Yes, they played that album for us on a loop at summer camp. The things that get ingrained ….
Major Major Major Major
@Uncle Cosmo: my standard for women politicians’ jokes is that if it isn’t any spicier than a Thatcher quip, it’s not going to keep me up at night worrying about the menfolks’ reaction.
Oh, can you imagine the howls if Warren reprised Maggie’s “you want something done in politics, ask a woman” joke…
We have a new weatherman on BBC Northwest, Quainwyn Evans, who is Welsh and I have to say camp as hell. I mean he is out and proud and doesn’t hide his sexuality, and I absolutely love him. He is so much fun to watch in the evenings that I watch the evening news just for him.
@BellyCat: I just wrote up a huge response to you about this, since my kid is in elementary school and uses they/them pronouns, but it got caught in moderation because of terms for body parts, anyway, here’s PART of what I said:
It’s honestly not as hard as you might think. If you were put in the situation of having to use they/them pronouns for a loved one all the time, it would probably take you about two weeks to feel fluent with it. Use the terms they, them, and theirs exactly the same way you would in any other context, with verb agreement. You can think of it as the way you likely use “they/them” on a regular basis for a person whose gender you just don’t know. For instance,
“How old are they?” (honestly, how would you say this if you insisted on gendering an unknown person? “How old is he or she?” This is an awkward construction; singular they is really a more common usage, and if you extrapolate from that usage to everything else, it’s much easier)
“Does your kid like pizza, or are they more into hamburgers?”
“Is this your child? I found their lunchbox on the schoolyard”
“Would you tell that kid their lunchbox is by the door?”
@Major Major Major Major:
There’s also a famous Thatcher quote where one of the opposition sneeringly congratulated her for being the best man on her team, and she shot back, “That’s one more than you have on yours!”
She could trash talk, I’ll give her that.
@Uncle Cosmo: 1) I think she said she would assume it was a man was to explain why she would say he should marry one wife (instead of one husband) not an assumption that only men hold the position; 2) The tenor of the first part of her reply–if you are straight, fine, be straight but don’t impose your beliefs on others–is my thinking exactly (yeah, I once had one of those “Don’t like abortion, don’t get one” bumper stickers on my car) but yes, the second part though funny to the audience in the moment will definitely will be taken as snide by a lot of folks–I mean it was dismissive so I agree with you on that.
As for the initial quote, the only other thing like that that has come out at a prior debate was when she was chastising John Delany for being a candidate who was always talking about how this, that, or the other thing progressive candidates were proposing wouldn’t work and Warren replied (paraphrasing) I don’t know why anyone would go to all the trouble of running for President, which is a lot of work, just to talk about what we can’t do. Other than that I got nothing and I have watched every debate.
@Uncle Cosmo: & @Marcopolo: IIRC (& no google) the clip was of Warren’s response in one of the Presidential debates to one of the myriad candidates now polling around 1% who was saying we can’t do/improve/solve things with new federal programs. & basically before she answered the q (whatever it was) when it was her turn “then why would you run?” or something like that.
ETA she was responding to the implication that we cannot solve big problems, or make big structural changes
I am more than a little pleased that in the book I just sent to the publisher I include a character who I never use any pronouns for. Not even ‘they’. From reactions so far, readers don’t notice.
@Uncle Cosmo: Oh, relax. She was speaking to an LGBT-friendly audience and knew it. She is a consummate politician. Raise your hand if you think she would actually use the word-for-word same response to some actual bigot in a different setting. She would say something much gentler and most certainly would not have added the “if you can find one” quip at the end which was obviously playing to the crowd.
One does need to avoid comments that can be weaponized by the other side. Like Hillary’s “deplorables” and Romney’s “47 percent”. That’s a part of politics these days. I don’t think this was that.
You misspelled “bigotry”.
I still remember the day my college roommate and one of my best friends J. came out to me. We’d both just moved to NY State where we were in grad school, having both grown up and gone to college in Texas. We were housemates in NY, too, and after a week, he came out to me. I wasn’t exactly homophobic, but certainly didn’t think of gay men without some …. squeamishness. The sort of attitude one might expect from a boy raised in a backward small Texas town in the 70s. For sure, my friend had no reasonable certainty that I might not be a raging homophobe deep-down inside.
And yet he had the courage to come out to me anyway. And in that moment, I realized: if J., a guy I looked up to, whom I wanted to be like, whom I cared about and wanted to be happy, if he was gay, then gay people could be people I liked, cared about, looked up to, wanted to be happy.
Lotta years have passed since that moment, and I’m a different person: now I see men holding hands or canoodling on the street, esp. young men a third my age, and I smile like I used to at Doisneau posters. It’s true that with familiarity comes acceptance, when it comes to plain old human emotions.
And it all started with a man willing to risk some pretty scary consequences, to come out and he his true self with his friends. I’m still humbled that he was willing to do that, and risk that, with me.
@Mnemosyne: I shaved my beard off last month so we don’t really look too similar anymore.
Mike in NC
As a society we risk getting complacent about people’s sexuality being no one else’s business. Getting one more wingnut Supreme Court justice could result in a majority decision that same sex marriage was now illegal and thousands of people would be negatively affected unless their states protected them. Trump doesn’t care — he’s just out to line his pockets — but Pence and other religious fanatics in their party are absolutely against recognizing same sex marriage. They like the Russian model: come out as gay and get beaten up and maybe tossed in jail.
My brother in law grew a beard after he met his boyfriend, after being clean-shaven his whole life. Fortunately, it looks good on him, and G and I are looking forward to the day when we can start saying “E’s husband” rather than “E’s boyfriend.”
Ceci n est pas mon nym
If I didn’t know you that well, I would consider it an even bigger potential faux pas to assume someone is married. If I had a social life, I think I’d just say something about “you are welcome to bring a significant other”.
I guess a wedding would involve inviting people whose marital status you don’t know, but that’s easily finessed with “and guest”. And isn’t that the traditional wording anyway?
I’m not sure what point I’m making. Just I guess that a polite invitation that makes no assumptions is always and should have always been the right approach.
@Gretchen: I’m actually glad that she did say it. That kind of joke getting a serious laugh provides a powerful social cue that sanctimonious homophobia has become genuinely socially unacceptable.
Yeah, unless you’ve been in the shoes of a teen who feels ashamed of who s/he is, or an adult who puts up with fag jokes at work and sees the pictures of loved ones on co-workers’ desks, it’s kinda hard to understand. Really, every time you talk about your husband or your kids you’re announcing something about your sex life, whether you realize it or not. It was a major step forward in my life when i put a picture of my partner (now husband) on my desk at work.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym:
Miss Manners (Judith Martin) has been very clear since the mid-1980s that there is NO excuse for being rude to a gay couple.
One of her classics:
Sister Golden Bear
@Mike in NC: We also had conservative justices at Tuesday’s hearing practically begging for someone to bring them a case involving trans people in bathrooms — they spend a lot of time talking about it, and it wasn’t relevant to the cases before them. Needless to say, it’s because they want to make it illegal for me to use any sort of public restroom.
Sister Golden Bear
@Soprano2: “You’re right, most of those things would never come up in my life, so I don’t think about them.”
FWIW, I’ve seen privilege defined as being all the things one doesn’t need to think about because of who they are. No shame in being privileged per se, it’s more about what does once one becomes aware of that privileged.
(And obligatory intersectional disclaimer that one can be disadvantaged in some ways and privileged in others, i.e. while I’m disadvantaged as a queer trans woman, I’m also privileged by being white and middle-class.)
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
@C Stars: It takes practice, but you get used to it. I have a middle school age child who recently came into the understanding that they were non-binary, and adopted they-them pronouns. We’re still getting used to this (and their new name), but we’re getting it right more and more. Their experience at school has been relatively positive as well.
I’m very proud of them, their very-supportive sister, and our community.
Not only the line but the delivery. She nailed it. And she did it so well that even he laughed.
The only person who should care if you are gay/straight/mixed are people who you hook up with or might. It is, as @Villago Delenda Est: points out, no one else’s damn business.
Forty five years ago I met my sister’s partner. She was a very good person who loved and was loved. Both my sister and her partner are gone now and yet I still know great people whom I’ve met because of them who are not “conventionally” sexually orientated. I’m so lucky to have that bit of history in my life.
@Marcopolo: @Tenar Arha: Yeah, makes sense – the clip in question had a split screen with another candidate, I think it was Delaney.(I have never seen an image identified as him). Thanx 2 u both.
smedley the uncertain
I want to thank everyone who contributed to this thread. I have been trying to “keep Up” as Betty C. said but not doing very well. My 80 year old vocabulary is archaic to say the least but in reading through these comments I have learned a great deal. I’ll probably screw up at times but at least I can catch myself and adjust to minimize offending.
@Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: That is great to hear. We’ve been using they/them for our kid for about four years now and it’s definitely gotten much easier, both in terms of using the right pronouns ourselves, and talking to other people about using the right pronouns. Definitely not easy all of the time, but worth it.
oy with these assholes. people don’t realize that with these guys ‘fuck your feelings’ has emphasis on the ‘your’. like everybody else’s feelings are stupid, but theirs are so important they’ll threaten to kill people for making them feel uncomfortable.
@smedley the uncertain: Thank you for your comment. I don’t care at all when people mess up with the pronouns, if I perceive that they are open-minded and respectful and making an honest effort (that goes for my kid, too). It’s pretty easy to know who is entering the discussion with empathy and kindness and who isn’t, and ultimately that’s what matters.
Another series of books to read: Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice scifi trilogy. Instead of the default neutral being ‘he’ in her book, she made it ‘she.’ So ‘she’ could refer to a man or woman. Her thinking: this was being translated from a fictional language that doesn’t have gendered referrals, so she could choose the pronoun. She notes that other languages on Earth don’t have gendered references, including Finnish.
Then there’s the Romance languages, where everything is assigned a gender.
I think there might be some misunderstanding by some straight folk about the “I’m gay” thing? It can come up in casual conversation, when you as a woman say, “my husband and I went to a terrific restaurant the other night,” and your male co-worker says, “my husband and I go there all the time. Isn’t it great?”
@Kent: Exactly this. If you were offended by what Warren said, then she wasn’t talking to you–and that’s fine, because you weren’t going to vote for her anyway. My wife and I cracked up because she was saying something we’ve often wanted to say but had to hold our tongues. It’s so refreshing; while Obama did eventually evolve on LGBTQ+ issues, it was sometimes painful listening to him in 2008, because he clearly wasn’t entirely comfortable having the conversation. He and Hillary both tiptoed around the issue that election cycle. Now, all of the Democratic candidates know better, and are at least mostly saying the right things. The contrast between the parties on LGBTQ+ issues has never been so stark.
Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone for whom this sort of thing applies.
Here’s a heart-warming story about a surprisingly supportive/tolerant community in, of all places, Tennessee.
In line with the topic, recommend Hjørdis on Netflix, a 4-episode spin-off of the delightful and biting series Rita.
I think sometimes there’s too much info out there. My neighbor state, Wisconsin senator is gay and that’s fine. But then I heard that Arizona’s senator Sinema says she’s bi-sexual. That’s way more than I want to know! Please…
Mayor Pete tweeted a beautiful message for today that brought tears to my eyes. Here it is:
Belafon touched on it a bit, but for us older folks, the pain that a lifetime of denying who you are, the waste of lives by suicide due to bigotry of families and schoolmates, the murders of gays: all reinforcing how important it was to keep hiding; all that was not so far in the past. You can see it in some of these older folks in the film. So glad we have a day to support our fellow humans wherever they feel they fit in!
As other folks have said, National Coming Out Day is important because of visibility, especially for me as a middle-aged queer black woman, to have other young black women see me. I’m in a pretty good space right now–the majority of the full-time librarians here are queer, and the college is committed to making this place safe and affirming for LGBTQ+ students. I felt so happy yesterday walking through the quad and seeing all the young queer folks celebrating themselves.
When y’all talk about it being no one’s business who you’re married to, though, please keep in mind that for some of us it’s a BFD. My wife and I got married on September 4, 2008. Two months later, while we were celebrating Obama’s election, we were also in tears because Prop 8 passed in our state. I’d had a (thankfully) former co-worker who knew full well that I was gay tell me that he just didn’t think two people of the same-sex getting married was “natural”. We joke about our “glamourous lesbian lifestyle”, which consists of things like cleaning the cat boxes, making dinner, listening to podcasts together, and her doing cross-stitch while I rant about ranged DPS standing on Mars when I’m trying to heal them. Yet somehow, our incredibly mundane existence is threatening massive social upheaval. It’s exhausting walking around knowing that some of the people who smile and laugh with you would turn on you in an instant if they knew who you truly are. National Coming Out Day, for me, is a way to say, “I’m here; I’m queer; if you can’t deal with it that’s your fucking problem, not mine.”
My favorite book when I was a teen was “Drinking Sapphire Wine” by Tanith Lee; she created a future society where people could change bodies and genders in all kinds of interesting ways, even exploring other species. Lots of fun. Sarah Caldwell (Olivia Wilde’s aunt, I believe) has an excellent series in which the narrator’s gender is never revealed, and you really can’t tell in any other way what it is.
I don’t like to categorize myself, so just say I’m into the person, not their plumbing, and I’ve been open about this since high school, starting in 1978. I always loved to wave my freak flag high. Yes, I got brutally bullied, but that happened mostly in middle school, and I learned to fight back with gleeful ferocity. ;-)
@Marcopolo: Just FTR, with one letter changed, Ghouliani is what an astronomy prof friend used to call the humongous particle accelerator that was proposed to be built in Texas but was eventually canceled:
Sister Golden Bear
@gammyjill: It’s not about you.
“Bi invisibility” is a serious issue in the LGBTQ+ communities, which gays and lesbians can be dismissive of bi people’s identities, telling them to “pick a side,” or that they’re too cowardly to fully come out.
So it’s especially important to have public figures who are bi and out, for the reasons I and others have talked about.
@Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:
I get both your point of view and that of VDE.
Was he being crass or was he saying that being gay is not a problem and not something he worries or maybe even feels the need to think about?
I was at a brunch date one Sunday morning and didn’t know anyone other than her out of the 10 or so people at the table. Across the table was a man, acting and talking very “gay,” and directing most of this to me, rather obviously. Most everyone knew everyone else, I was the odd in the group. At one point I told him that he could stop, everyone in the restaurant knows he’s gay and that I didn’t care that he was gay, and how did he think that I’d met the woman I was with? My gay friends had introduced us. He looked at me sheepishly and at the end of the brunch asked us to his house. We accepted and had a great day. He’s a rather nice person, when he’s not trying to prove he’s gay.
I don’t go out of my way to notice or not notice if you are gay or straight. It isn’t any of my business. That’s no being crass, it’s being accepting of people for who they are, and keeping my nose out of their business. I don’t feel the need to notice gayness or straightness. And if I do it’s because I’d like to have some sort of more physical relationship with that person and then and only then does it matter. At least that’s my take of 45 yrs of interacting with friends, a couple who were extremely close, who just happen to be gay.
Sister Golden Bear
One empathy exercise I’ve suggested to straight people is to spend a week acting like you’re living in a world where no can know you’re straight. No photos of your spouse at work, no references to your boyfriend/girlfriend, no mentioning that you went out to a straight club over the weekend, no mannerisms that might indicate that you’re straight, etc. No one’s made it past 24 hours.
Villago Delenda Est
@Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: I absolutely agree with this. But then again, I’m one of these radical degenerates who thinks that who you have consenting adult sex with is no ones business but their own.
Well said. Sorry that it needs to be said, to mostly people that won’t get the message.
One of those people I wrote about above was a black gay woman. She was one of my very best friends, she passed away from sickle cell 2 1/2 yrs ago. An inspiration for 45 yrs. She wasn’t a saint, but neither was she the devil. She was a normal, decent human being. Who happened to like women better than men. So we had something in common. And could laugh and cry and help each other when we needed.
Late to the party as usual.
As an almost seventy-year-old gay “woman” (close enough for a blog comment), I can’t keep up either. I have never used the word “lesbian”; I prefer “gay,” since as an adjective it seems to leave room for the fact that being gay is only one of my many attributes.
I’m with @Betty Cracker and Kent about the ingrained-ness of pronouns, and I’m a grammar nerd to boot, but I’m trying to learn new habits.
I can’t even begin to talk about gender in this era, but I’ll take a quick stab at it. My favorite book title is “Gender Outlaw: Men, Women, and the Rest of Us,” which explains it pretty well. Growing up I was what was called a “tomboy.” I haven’t worn a dress in 30+ years and never will again, I’ve never worn make-up, but nor am I trans. And — nor do I think of it in terms of some kind of spectrum, essence of female at one end and essence of male at the other, and some of us hybridized. It’s more complicated, rich, and varied than that one-dimensional image can live up to. (I’m obviously arguing with people from my past……. ;-)
I used to say, before people talked about this much, that I was bi-emotional and homo-sexual. Still pretty accurate, I guess.
Thanks to MMMM and Sister Golden Bear for the thread and thanks to everyone for the thread in general.
Would have liked to edit my 5:00 for clarity but it won’t let me….
But that’s how change works. If change is hidden/forbidden then it really isn’t change. Is it too much info? Well yes, but. That’s how it helps acceptance. It gets accepted. The more it’s accepted the less actually it needs to be said. That people that if we didn’t know were whatever and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference why should we care? It’s the transition to acceptance that’s difficult and scary and hateful and yes, necessary. Those people were whatever before you knew, how does them saying it change anything for you?
@Villago Delenda Est:
We are under threat at the moment. So it is. And imagine if your neighbor said “Hi, this is my wife, Roberta.” And you replied “It’s none of my business if you’re married or whatever.”
Noncommunity is a force of closet.
Just for the record, “he” was Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors Chair Morgan Cox. His question was a hypothetical, he wasn’t actually asking it as his own question.
I figured out I was gay before Stonewall, before gay meant gay. I realized I was homosexual but couldn’t remember where I had ever heard the word. It was probably in the Joe McCarthy hearings. I was an emotionally shut down 14 year old who didn’t know if there were any other gay people in the world.
When I finally found some gays in Chicago and Cincinnati there were a lot of self hating gays and very few gay couples. There were many men in the gay bars who had wives or would not kiss because that would make them a faggot. Fortunately Stonewall happened about the same time and attitudes began their slow evolution.
But I believe that AIDS forced people who could pass for straight out into the open. Finally the macho gay men and lipstick lesbians were visible. It wasn’t just wild eyed gay libbers and the sterotypes of LGBT people. And the brilliant Marriage Equality campaign that put the desire to share your love and committment in the public perception.
It’s a long way from the young guy who came out to friends, was shunned by most, bumped out of college, abd tried to kill myself. I have PTSD from the years of isolation so it’s great to read the comments in this post. Thanks 4M and SGB! And all the commenters.
My highschool boyfriend was gay. He wasn’t out, but I figured he was gay because he was a complete non-pawing gentleman ( in high school in 1970) and on alternate weekends he went out with his AA best friend.
Wonderful, funny, charming guy. He died of AIDS in SF. I don’t know what happened to his AA friend, who was a wonderful man.
Boyfriend came back from college very out. I was amused because he was so surprised that I wasn’t surprised. But I was pretty much oblivious to how difficult this must have been vis a vis his family. Also all of his white male friends were surprised.
God those days were awful. I had another friend who shot himself at the kitchen table while his family was on vacation. That’s what they came home to, because he was afraid to come out.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: Dorothy – after you finish the book, you might want to listen to the Skiffy and Fanty podcast interview with Ann Leckie about the book here. She has some things to say about the inspirations for the book and about the gender identity of that character in that particular cultural setting.
@JanieM: I use, and am, a lesbian. Even more now that the world seems intent on erasing us.
We only have Anne Lister’s diaries to know that she was! Otherwise it’d be Boston marriages and sexless loveless live-in friendships of history. F THAT!
This is such a late comment… Sigh, it doesn’t seem to matter what time zone I’m in. I just wanted to say that it’s a discussion deserving of more BJ time and attention.
M4: Yeah, “Coming Out” wut? Day? Right. Yeah, y’all get a day. Blacks and Women are so close to equal we each get a whole month. Does that make black women get 2 months? It’s such bs.
And not dissing anything you said. Just kind of in favor of a lot fluidity for individuals. And dislike tokenism.
And more posts! Yay!
M4: I totally agree that even in the early ’70s, it took some imagination, oh fuck, not that much for some of us (mostly in the SF family) to have a lot of lg friends, but for even well-meaning relatively aware people to imagine gay marriage, it was big step. Yeah, you might guess I was totally immersed in Academia and then SF fandom, so tolerance Was expected. But that was about it.
That explains a lot but still it was very well executed response from EW, with perfect comic timing. Even if she had known the question ahead of time – which of course I have no idea, still very well done.
@Ruckus: Totally agree it was very well done, and the comic timing was perfect. My comment wasn’t meant to say otherwise, it was just the copy editor nerd side of me wanting everything factual to be accurate. ;-)
@VeniceRiley: I think saying I’m gay pretty much erases any Boston marriage suspicions. I prefer the adjective to the noun, as I said, and the more generic description to the more specific (and to me, more constricting). YMM-and obviously does-V.
J R in WV
Mayor Pete’s little film made me tear up.
I had a dear cousin whom I loved very much. She came out as gay to me a very long time ago… She died of ovarian cancer last spring. She once said to me maybe 40 years ago “Maybe I’m bi, cause I love you so much!” which still makes me choke up when I think of her.
@C Stars: Thank you for the thoughtful response. I’m glad your kid is doing so well now!