Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To be out or in? And how out, is out?

I'm out.

I believe strongly in being out and in how that can affect our fight for equality.

I consider myself to be totally out of the closet, and that's been the case for a decade.

I'm out to my parents, brother, extended family, old school friends, colleagues that work where I work, and those in remote offices. I regularly post gay news items on my facebook page.

I left Canada after a very bad employment experience where my boss went ballistic after discovering my sexuality and I swore I would never be closeted again. And I haven't. Mostly.

I work in a shop. I deal with probably 20-40 individual people a day. Some take 10 seconds, others I deal with for hours, and some of them become regular customers, and I would feel like I know them quite well. It's not a corner store. In doing my job I have to ask for some sensitive information from people, so it becomes appropriate to share some as well... for comfort and rapport.

I've had this concern for over ten years, although the reasons for it have changed.

I remember ten years ago, a lesbian was trying to buy a gift for her partner. She played the pronoun game badly and clumsily and I knew. But I never said anything, although I made myself extra friendly so she would feel more comfortable. The following day, she brought her girlfriend in.

I resolved I wanted to be in some way obvious -- at least to other gay people -- so they don't feel uncomfortable around me. I bought a labrys necklace and wore a rainbow bracelet. It mostly worked. And for a while, that was enough for me.

But it's getting to me again. So many people I speak to often have absolutely no idea that my partner is a woman. Add to this that I wear a wedding band (we were married in Canada a few years ago but Ireland has no gay marriage or civil partnerships), there's no way for people to even suspect.

And yes, I get that "it's none of their business" and "why would I want them to know?" and I can be happy enough with myself if my closetedness was simply a sin of ommission.

But it's not. I play the pronoun game. While I certainly don't use male pronouns, I don't use the female ones either. And given that my wife has a very male-identified career, it's easy to just say what she does, while clumsily omitting the pronoun.

What do you think? Should I risk it and let a she/her slip on occaision? Should I get a new rainbow bracelet? Get a gay/lesbian themed ring? Should I just stop worrying?

My wife will not allow me to cut my hair. Just sayin'.

1 comment:

Martyn Clark said...

I vote for stop worrying, and call Em what she is. Use she/her as much as you need to!! Pro-pronouns.