Queer Girl In Straightville
I moved a couple years ago after I came out. A confluence of reasons and events brought me to this decision. I still return to the town I lived as a straight married woman from time to time. I have been out for several years now and my hearing has changed. Currently I live within an almost exclusively gay community and I hear things that straight people say differently with a new perspective. I am a little horrified to tell the truth.
I returned to Straightville recently and an old mommy acquaintance shared with me about the trials and tribulations of her current divorce proceedings. I run a FB support group called Vida Nova for women who are making a major life transition (i.e. death of a loved one, coming out later in life, divorce, empty nest) and I invited her to join. She recoiled a little bit and said “Yes, I saw that group online.” I explained to her what it was a group of all kinds of women going through transition. She said, “You know my husband accused me of being a lesbian because of my friendship with a woman.” I know instantly that she was worried about being associated with anything that was perceived as gay and I said, “You know it is more then OK to be a lesbian.” She ignored this statement and said, “Well it is not true. We are only friends.” Her body language spoke as she shuddered slightly with the distaste of it all. I invited her to look Vida Nova up again and saw on her face that she would not.
At dinner the same evening my friend’s new boyfriend told me a convoluted story of how his grandfather and brother vied for the same hand in marriage of his grandmother. His grandmother ultimately spurned the advances of the brother and married his grandfather. Due to this rejection the brother “became” gay. I said, “It doesn’t work that way. People don’t become gay because of a rejected opposite sex relationship.” Not hearing me, he continued, “And then my grandmother became an alcoholic because she felt so bad she had made him gay.” I said nothing. I realized that the homophobia and “blaming another” was so deep in this man and his family there was nothing I could say or do that would change his mind. I went back home soon after slightly demoralized by my foray back into Straightville.
I reflected on both experiences over several days and realized a couple of things both relevant to our community. This is one of the many reasons that coming out is so very hard. Unconsciously or consciously people share stories or beliefs that are homophobic. Ironically both of these people would never consider themselves prejudice, after all they were talking and befriending me:) If I was still in the closet this body language and story would convey to me that it is unsafe or distasteful to be queer. How could I come out if this is what my community thought about the LGBTQIA family?
Secondly when I met my partner I chided her for having an almost exclusively gay community around her with very few straight friends. I thought she was insular and straight-phobic, but I understand now. It is hard to sit there and listen to people who literally have no clue tell a story about a gay relative. Or an acquaintance shudder because her ex accused her of being a lesbian. Turns out my partner was not phobic. She instead surrounded herself with people she did not have to waste time on explaining or justifying the queer community or herself. She realize there are so many other things to do in life and she is right.