I have been unfairly stereotyped, y’all. And it sucks.
I’m at a work conference (yay! Responsibility!) in Minneapolis (ew! Cold!) on day five (ah! Tired!). I am sipping on my iced coffee that I downed some Advil with and I’m pretty much ready to take on the world. But I do have to say that I’ve had this weird experience, and I wanted to know if any of you have experienced it before, as well.
My roommate is afraid of me. Because I like women.
I’ve honestly never experienced something like this. And I’m working through it the best I can, but I have to say it leaves me with an overall feeling that I’ve done something wrong. Then I get mad, because I’ve in fact done nothing wrong. What the hell?
Here’s the story: She asked me if I was seeing anyone, and I said “Yeah, I’ve been with my girlfriend Exhibit A for eight months,” to which she stared at me like crazy, then realized I wasn’t joking and responded with “…oh. I’ve been…with…my boyfriend for….five…months.”
She then said about five minutes later “Um…I know this is kind of….out there…but…I’ve just never…roomed…with…a…lesbian.”
First off – yes you have.
Second off – did you not just hear me say I’m in a relationship?
Third off – who says third off?
Fourth off – please don’t say “Um…can you like, leave or something?” when you’re changing. In the bathroom.
Now. I do have to say this – she is a sweet, sweet girl. She just hasn’t really experienced a gay person before (that she knew about.) I cannot be mad at her as a human for a second, though I did start off that way.
Where I’m getting these feelings is from the fact that people feel this way because they are raised to do so. Listen. You’re sweet and all, but I’m not going to crawl into bed with you and stroke your hair while spooning you. I’m not gonna sneeze and pass the gay along to ya. I like women, but not all of them, and sorry, not you.
The truth is, kids are raised in a world that’s kind of a hot mess. My mom says she doesn’t “know” anyone who’s gay, and that’s fine if it’s true, but what? Like, how can that be? Scientifically? And we start teaching from this young age that blue is for boys and pink is for girls and all families should have a mommy and daddy (or a family figure that fits that model — grandma/grandpa, aunt/uncle, etc.) and bam, we end up in a place where my roommate is uncomfortable for her well-being because I choose to hold hands with my girlfriend rather than my boyfriend. I cannot deal!
The part that’s the worst is that in so many schools, the attempts by progressive teachers are met with really disgusting backlash by “pro-family activists” that spew hatred. I just don’t understand. (And we can sit here and say that we “hate the gay-bashers” and such, but hey, guess what, spewing hate on top of hate does nothing. Just saying. That fuels terrible things.) If there is a child who has two daddies in her classroom and she’s stuck hearing about “mommy and daddy” as the norm, A – she’s not ever going to talk about her family B – she’s going to freak when she is supposed to do a project on “what mommy does” C – she’ll be uncomfortable inviting people over….these are just responses I’m coming up with out of nowhere. I cannot imagine the truthfulness of what I’m saying and how it’s played out daily in our public school system.
It’s the worst when I feel like I have to come out every single day to someone. I cannot imagine for beautiful souls like Exhibit A, my awesome supervisor at work, and the other wonderful LGBTQ folks that I know what this is like on the regular. But how can I turn this from a negative to a positive? (that’s my new jam lately – not this….ie:)
I guess this is the time to turn my anger, frustration, and annoyance into advocacy. I can take the “So…um…you’re a lesbian”s and turn them into “Yeah. You seem a little wavered by that. Have you met a lesbian or someone who identifies under the LGBTQ spectrum before?” I can and should do these things. I guess becoming aware of it is the first step. And straight allies can do the same. Cause lord knows I can’t do this one on my own.
It can hurt a few to speak up, but it hurts the one who says nothing the most to keep silent. And the more advocacy we have with people who truly believe in bettering the situation, the better. As my dear friend (hehe I wish) Shirin Ebadi said this week (yeah, my job is cool), “When you fight, keep your smile on.”