Thursday, April 12, 2012

28, as, it turns out, plus 9 — Now with updates!

LGBTQ week here on CMC is off to a slow start, I know, but Monday night I was busy actually celebrating my queerness at the last night of Rainbow Bowl, and last night I was busy with a horrible, horrible migraine. So we're jumping in with both feet, with maybe the longest post of the week.

One of my favorite commenters, Amanda, asked for this one. She suggested "10 things straight friends do that they'd be SHOCKED! to know annoy the hell out of their gay friends (or five, or 15)."

I did not feel qualified to answer this one on my own, so I asked for some help. I did some editing on some of these for length or clarity or format, but all of these happened in real life to me or someone I know — in many cases, repeatedly. Remember, as we discussed back in 19 Secrets Women Wish Men Knew, not all people think alike, even when they are in a group.

  1. Telling me I don't "look gay." I don't even know what people mean when they say this. Or rather, I do; they mean my hair is longer than that of the last queer woman they met and they have possibly observed I am wearing heels. What I don't know is how they want me to respond. "Thanks," maybe. Gross. What if I said you didn't look straight/female/black/American/something else that is part of your identity? People do say that other people don't look female/black/American, by the way — it's rude then, too.
  2. (From A, a married friend) Referring to marriage equality as “gay marriage” — oh, really, aside from the idiotic lack of federal sanction, how is my gay marriage different from their straight one?
  3. Upon learning I'm queer, immediately thinking of the one other queer person they know who they should introduce me to.
  4. Never managing to introduce me to any of their other queer friends — it seems like maybe I'm the only queer friend they have, which makes me wonder about them.
  5. Encouraging me to start dating very quickly after a major breakup. This has happened to me, but it happened worse to a friend. A gay male couple I knew broke up after 8 years, most of that time spent living together. Literally two weeks later (possibly less), people were urging at least one half that couple to get out there. Let the dude mourn a little if he wants to. I don't know if that's about assuming the relationship was less important because it was two men, or if it's about assuming men (especially gay ones) are so horny they need to have someone to sleep with always, but if I did that to a straight friend who'd just ended a, say, six-year marriage, people would think me abominable.
  6. (From A) Ghettoizing us more than we do with phrases like “you people…”
  7. (From B, a married female friend in her 60s) People/men addressing us as "girls" - whereas other groups of older women are addressed as ladies… not sure what that is about. 
  8. (From B) Asking questions about who takes out the trash and/or does the lawn — like one of us is the butch — which may be true, but I'm not sure it is anyone's business.
  9. Defending hurtful behavior as somehow not a big deal. If I stomp on your foot, and you object, and I (or someone else) dismiss it as, "I was just being funny!", your foot will still hurt, and now you'll also be sad that someone who you thought was your friend is standing up for the foot-stomper. On the other hand, "I was just trying to be funny, but I see how my actions had real-life consequences, so I'm sorry I did it, and I'll try not to do it anymore," could be very healing. Just silently agreeing to disagree, even, doesn't heal, but it at least doesn't hurt more
  10. (From C, a pansexual female friend) Assuming I am a lesbian because I am dating a woman.
  11. (From C) Assuming I was a lesbian all along because I am divorcing my husband (because, clearly, the ONLY reason to leave a man is for another woman?!!?!) 
  12. (From C) Assuming I was a lesbian all along and grandly congratulating me on my new-to-them same-sex relationship (because, clearly, I've just come out of the closet?!!?) 
  13. (From C) Assuming I am not serious about my girlfriend because: a) I married a man, b) I have been with more men than women in my lifetime c) I'm bisexual (really pansexual, but whatev), d) I might just go back to "playing for the other team" 
  14. (From C) Assuming that she is male/my boyfriend because of her appearance.
  15. (From C) My dad declining my request to bring my girlfriend to the weekly family dinner for a meet-and-greet because: a) he's a homophobic ex-catholic republican b) he thinks that my having a girlfriend is some sort of sexual phase I will outgrow. 
  16. Labelling single-person bathrooms by sex. What good does that do anyone?
  17. (From D, a female married friend with a child) Asking me if my son's dad is a red-head. It is weird and awkward. 
  18. (From D) Asking if I've met the donor even though they know we used a sperm bank - a valid question but odd - it moves closer to annoying when they ask if I had sex with the donor. 
  19. (From D) Giving "permission," as in, if a nurse asks a male patient about his wife and he replies that he has a husband, it is incredibly inappropriate for the nurse to say, "Oh, that's OK".
  20. (From my friend E) Flirting — or unflirting, as in, "If I were gay, I'd totally be into you."
  21. (From E) Using any of the following sentences: "I wish I were gay." "It must be so much easier." "I think I'll just quit [the opposite sex]."
  22. (From E) "No, I don't mean gay like that kind of gay; I mean gay like stupid."
  23. Using "queer" and "gay" to mean "stupid," and then, when I've called them on it, launching into an explanation that they experimented with the same sex in college.
  24. Actually, launching into an explanation of college experimentation with me at all.
  25. Taking it personally when we don't come out to them. If this is you, think about whether it's about you or something you might have said, and then, if you're sure it's not, accept that it's about us and our own journey. Let it go.
  26. Talking about how they have nothing against LGBTQ folks, but they wouldn't want their own child to be queer, because the world can be so cruel.
  27. Claiming they are "queer" because they identify as allies.
  28. Using the word "partner" for their heterosexual significant other. This didn't used to bother me the way it does now; now, I see that word as a password, and I dislike when people not in the club use it out of what feels to me like misplaced solidarity.
  29. UPDATE: (just in from my friend F) Assuming that we queer folks are big fans of your HRC t-shirt/sticker/etc. Some LGBT folks support the HRC. Others (and this is more than a small number) would rather gnaw off their own foot than give them money. Just because they make the nice equal sign stickers doesn't mean they're the best place to give your money.
  30. UPDATE: (from F) "You're just like everyone else!" No, I'm not. And I don't need to be. And, by the way, "everyone else" is not just like "everyone else". 
  31. UPDATE: (from F) "Oh...don't call yourself butch!" That tells me two things: first, that the person I'm talking to is uncomfortable with butch identity for a variety of reasons and, two, that they think they way I am proud to describe myself is somehow a put-down.
But also, I thought I should add this to Amanda's original idea: "Things straight people have done unexpectedly that were completely the right thing to do," both because straight people do things right all the time, and because the first one makes a point so beautifully.
  1. (From the same A above) Numerous straight people have referred to their husband/wife/significant other as “partner”, which, depending on the couldn’t-really-say-if-you-are-straight-or-gay-or-somewhere-in-between factor they embodied, has kept me wondering until I met said person and learned they were just run o’ the mill straight people after all. 
  2. (From A) They’ve asked me (when I was single) and us, now that I’m married, to be godfather(s) to their child, and want their child to grow up knowing that love comes in myriad forms. Mostly, they want their child to know that love comes at them from many directions. 
  3. (From B) They passed legal marriage and that had to be done by straights; as well as the ordination of gays in at least some states… 
  4. (From B) So often now guys like the plumber who comes to fix the sink, doesn't blink. How different from even 5 years ago! 
  5. (From C) My sister talking at length about my girlfriend and how (insanely) happy she makes me at said homophobic ex-catholic republican dad's house during the weekly family dinner 
  6. (From C) My (aforementioned) dad's wife sending an e-mail to me suggesting that while dinner with dad is a no-go, she would be very happy to meet my girlfriend 
  7. (From C) My co-workers noting that I'm a happier camper and upon finding out why (her!) giving tons of support/congrats/et cetera. Hell, Chef even picked up the food tab for our elaborate 9-course side-by-side belated Valentine's dinner date. That's love right there in the food industry! 
  8. People who just asked when they wondered if I'm, you know, that way, especially when I was obviously struggling with coming out.
  9. People who've had and expressed hurtful views to me — and apologized unequivocally when they realized they were wrong.
So, hoping the comments here are more lively. LGBTQ folks, what did I leave off either list? Straight folks, what are your questions/comments/concerns, beyond that I appear to sort my friends in alphabetical order?


Genny said...

This is good stuff, Lucy. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!! I do have a few questions:

1) What is pansexual?

2) Is it wrong that I don't think of my friends in terms of their sexual orientation? I apologize if I haven't introduced gay friends to each other. It was not intentional, I just would never think categorize my friends in that way. I think of all of you as friends. Not gay friends or straight friends. Just fantastic friends!!

3) C sounds awesome. Can we hang out sometime?

Anonymous said...

Ginny, that would be lovely! -C

bzzzzgrrrl said...

1) "Pansexual" is generally used to refer to people who believe (as I do) that there are more than two sexes or genders or both, and are open to attractions to all of them. It is broader than "bisexual," which suggests attractions to two sexes.

2) I am fantastic, thank you. I think the point is more, I am concerned when people appear not to have any queer friends but me, because sometimes I feel like a token, and sometimes I wonder how you're keeping your circle so small.

3) I believe C has answered your question herself. I would be delighted to facilitate that meeting. You have in common a love of good shoes.

Mike said...

I was going to say Genny's (2) and it's entirely possible that I've introduced you to queer friends without remembering or thinking to mention it.

Mike said...

18) Donor dads also get asked (often sheepishly) whether we had sex with the birth mom.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

Um, yikes.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

I just had someone share something with me on Facebook that I thought was perfect, and that gets back to Genny's point 2 above (and later to Mike's).

It said:

I don't see race.
I'm a good person.
I'm going to use my place of privilege to refute and deny the sufferings of those who do not have white privilege while at the same time erasing their personal and cultural history.

There was something about that point 2 that sat funny with me in a way I couldn't articulate. Now, the above is a little harsh for the kind of thing we're talking about, maybe, but I will say this: Queer people DO think to categorize their friends that way. Sometimes, it is a matter of community, and sometimes, it is a matter of emotional or physical safety.
When I am talking to another queer person about a third person, that person's orientation will come up. Always.
If you do not think about your friends' orientations, I think it is likely that that comes from a place of privilege resulting from your own orientation.
See what happens if you DO start thinking about your friends' orientations, deliberately — and not just your LGBTQ friends, but also your straight friends.

(Also, I'm not certain it's true that you don't think of people in terms of their orientation; otherwise, don't you think you would have attempted to set fabulous single me up with some of your fabulous single male friends, or straight women friends, or both? This is a red herring. I do not actually want you to set me up with inappropriate people.)