We were sitting there, talking, well gossiping really, as we have done for 11 years (side note I am so proud of this powerful supportive female friendship) now and for the first time ever I slipped into a completely homonormative – that’s right you read that correctly – homonormative way of thinking with a straight woman. We were talking about a bridal shower she has to go to and vying for more time with my little niece to quench my overwhelming baby fever I asked who she was leaving her daughter with. She looked at me strangely and said sarcastically… “um…my husband?!” I looked at her and burst out laughing “Oh my god I am so used to being a lesbian I forgot you have a husband and you would be going alone!” We laughed for a good five minutes about it and then talked about some of those differences in our relationships and how when I am invited to a baby shower or bridal shower normally my wife and I go together.
I think that is the first legitimate time in the real world (not my online universe which is fully lesbionic) where I subconsciously stopped thinking in a heteronormative way. It was such an interesting feeling being on the other end of that exchange. I mean don’t get me wrong it doesn’t come near the number of heteronormative questions I get every time I meet someone new and they find out I am married, but it was interesting nonetheless because it made me more aware of just how often I switch from my norm to the norm of others for their comfort and ease in conversation. She’s one of my oldest friends, but she still looked at me like I was crazy or something to not just inherently think that she was leaving the baby with her husband. It’s so funny to see the straights confused – even this very much ally straight who has been a constant support for me through my coming out and difficult family reactions.
It got me thinking…do they (even the allies) ever realize in their day to day speak how excluding they can be to the LGBTQ+ community?
Come on a journey with me, if you are queer it is likely that you have had this experience yourself. It’s your first day in class – you are making new friends – someone suggests you all go out for drinks for happy hour. You are there; sitting with three girls from your class that know basically nothing about you other than your major and you know its coming. The fated question… do you have a boyfriend? Your palms get sweaty and maybe if you are oh so lucky and like me, your face also gets red as these three super straight femme girls from your class wait for your response. You are single, but the debate in your head whether or not to tell them that you love the ladies – not because you are ashamed, but because every time you are asked that question it’s like coming out again and you never know how people will respond to it. Your mind floods with the more obvious likely responses (aka silence, intentional reduction of physical closeness, the overcompensating “That’s great” or the completely stereotypical “You’re so lucky, guys are the worst.”) and sitting there staring at that $6 Long Island you have to decide how you will answer.
It’s a world I constantly navigate #therapistlife where I meet new people all the time that tend to ask me personal questions – normally to deflect from sharing their own stories – where I have to decide how to respond and what to divulge. It is not the only question I get, but it is the only one that I feel bad about not clarifying. It’s as though if someone assumes I am straight by their way of questioning and I avoid a response or redirect the question back to them it feels like I am hiding a part of who I am.
It feels different in a way from all the other questions about my age or whether or not I have kids or any number of personal things I get asked about. It feels like a misrepresentation of me and it’s so confusing and also frustrating because there is this huge part of who I am, that I am proud of, and that at my core I know feels wrong to not clarify, but I have to balance my role in that relationship as a therapist which even after several years still gives me conflict. It is particularly annoying because my peers don’t seem to have any issues with answering that question about their hetero relationships – but there is always that concern about how people will respond and if it will impact the working relationship in some way.
I guess what I am trying to say with all of this is that coming out is not a onetime thing and that a lot of people don’t understand that reality for the LGBTQ community. It is an especially complex part of our lives and that is me talking as a white-passing, Latina, femme, cisgender woman who has tons of privilege…and please do not think that I don’t understand how much my privilege is showing by even having the ability to decide whether I come out to others. Nonetheless, it is the reason that I am so thankful for the safe spaces that I have via the internet and friends to stay in my norm and happy lesbian mindset with where I can fully express myself and find content that I can relate to innately. #letsmakehomonormativityathing
I hope that this is a place where you all can find that too!
Thanks for visiting 🙂 and I hope you come back