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Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2014-04-01 06:58 pm

You're Always Coming Out

Recently, I started thinking about the moments of being openly gay that I never see in fic. This was supposed to be a list of those.

It isn't.


Ever since we moved to this house, I've gone to the same pharmacy several times a month to pick up prescriptions. In the beginning, the earthling was with me in the sling, and later he'd accompany me walking on his own feet. There was a cashier, Maria, who always talked to him and me, who was friendly and remembered us and grabbed our prescriptions before we even got to the front of the line.

One day about a year ago I went to the pharmacy after the earthling was in bed. "Oh, where's your son?" Maria asked.

"He's at home with my wife. It's after his bedtime."

"…Oh," she said.

Since then, when I go, she still recognizes me, earthling or no, but she's all business. No chat, no talking about how big the earthling has gotten, no asking me about my day. There are a thousand possible reasons for this. At least. Most of them have nothing to do with me. Maybe she got yelled at for chatting with customers too much. Maybe she's been having a bad year. It could be anything. I know that.

But I will always wonder if it's because I'm queer. I can't not wonder. My queerness inflects every interaction I have like this, whether I acknowledge it ("my wife") or avoid it ("my partner"). And because queerness is not visible, cannot be known until I make it known, I often have situations like this, where there was a before and there is now an after and things are different. This is one of the minor costs of being openly queer: the voice in the back of your head that is always going, is this because I'm gay?


Coming out is supposed to happen in One Big Moment. Usually your One Big Moment involves coming out to your parents; sometimes, especially in fiction, it's coming out at a press conference or in front of an audience or something. But wherever it happens, the concept is the same: in that moment, your whole life changes. Before, you were closeted and ashamed, and after, you become open and honest. You have chewed your way out of the cocoon of secrecy to emerge as a beautiful gay butterfly!

My family doesn't do big moments well. I was in college, I was 19, I was in the apartment I shared with Best Beloved. And my mother called. After some chat, she got around to the purpose of her call.

"Last year," she said, "you told me you'd never get married. And I'm worrying about that. You're young and I don't want you to be alone forever."

"I won't be alone," I said. "I just won't be married because it's not legal for me to be. But I already consider myself married."

I should, at this (big and momentous!) point, mention a few things: this call was taking place in the morning, and my sister, Laura, was living with our mother at this time.

"Oh," my mother said. And right then, Laura, who is not and never has been entirely human in the mornings, came into the room.

"Is there milk?" she said crankily.

"In the refrigerator," my mother said to her. To me, she said, "Who are you married to?"

"[Best Beloved]," I said, honestly bewildered. (I thought they knew! Like -- why did they think we lived together? I assumed we'd been on the same page for years.)

"Oh," my mother said, reaching for a suitable reaction.

"No, there isn't," Laura said, attaining new heights of crankiness. "Are we out?"

"Your sister's a lesbian," my mother snapped at Laura. I think she meant: shut up about milk for a second. I'm trying to have a significant conversation and you're making it difficult.

Laura has never given a shit about anyone's sexual preference first thing in the morning. "That's nice," she said, summoning up every single fuck she could give about something before breakfast. "Are we out of milk or what?"

And at that point I think we all gave up on pretending this was a significant moment and just kind of moved on with our lives. I accepted that "That's nice. Are we out of milk or what?" would be my family's main reaction to my sexuality. Later that day, just to be sure we were all in the loop -- since my parents seemed strangely slow and clueless about these things -- I told my father in email. The paragraph dedicated to that revelation took a backseat to four paragraphs of discussion about my stupid physics professor. Those were my priorities.

He probably read it and wondered if he was out of milk.

Just to top things off, that night I realized to my eternal embarrassment that this all took place on National Coming Out Day, a "holiday" I don't even support. (Come out. Don't come out. Whatever you want, on your own terms. I'm not going to pressure you and no one else should, either. It's a bullshit concept.)

So my One Big Moment was -- not. It was not big. It was not dramatic. It was, to be honest, pretty comical. The most emotion experienced by anyone was Laura's sincere and honest anger about my mother using the last of the milk without even considering whether other people had had breakfast yet. It didn't even manage to be a single moment, since I spread it over most of a day.

This was probably much better preparation for the rest of my life than I thought at the time.


"Are you sisters?"

"No. No, we're… not sisters."

"Oh. Haha! You look just like each other."


In college, I fainted outside the student union building during finals week and ended up at student health. The nurse practitioner had only one question for me, phrased two dozen different ways: "Could you be pregnant?"

"No," I said. "I can't be pregnant."

She was already starting her next question before I finished my answer. "But did you have sex recently?"

I hesitated. Back then, coming out still felt like a big thing every time I did it. And, yes, I'd had sex with Best Beloved many times that month, but I knew she meant sex that involved a penis in my vagina. Did I really need to get into my current sexual history in detail with this woman? "No," I finally said, but my hesitation had convinced her.

"Are you sure?"


"Not at all?"


"Not even a teeny weeny bit?" she wheedled.

I just stared at her, trying to figure out how you have a teeny weeny bit of sex.

She moved on. "Did you black out, or take any drugs, or wake up and not know where you were at all recently?"

She'd accurately described most of my high school career, but those days were long gone. And I didn't think accidentally falling asleep after midnight in the bone lab counted. Dead people can't get you pregnant. "No."

We went around and around. After fifteen minutes, she was still finding new ways to ask if I might be pregnant, and I was watching time tick by and just yearning for a diagnosis already. Finally, she said, "What are you using for birth control?"

I gave up. My desire not to come out to her had lost out to my desire to be done with this question forever. "Lesbianism," I said. "I'm using lesbianism for birth control."

She nodded but did not deviate from her script. "So you're not on the pill? Did you have sex this month?"

"I only have sex with my girlfriend," I said, trying to make this whole lesbianism thing clearer. "She can't get me pregnant."

She sent me to get some blood tests. One of them was for hCG: a pregnancy test. I got it then and I get it now. The number of college girls who claim they can't possibly be pregnant and are wrong is greater than the number of college girls who have stress-induced fainting.

But I came out! It was an effort! And… she didn't even listen to me. Back then, it didn't matter to her the way it mattered to me.


After a while, it stops mattering. You do it so many times that it just gets old and dull and meaningless. But you don't get to stop there. Coming out is endless. I've done it thousands of times by now, each moment of coming out blurring together in my head until it's just a lifetime of saying over and over: "I'm a lesbian. I have a wife. I'm queer. I'm not straight." I don't play the pronoun game anymore, I don't reach for the careful, neutral phrasing, and so I'm coming out all the time, without even thinking about it. And it's so boring that I sometimes forget that it's new information, and sometimes a brand-new experience, for the person I'm coming out to.

"Is your husband Jewish?" the earthling's friend's mother asked me.

"My wife, actually. No, she's not."

And I was ready to move on, but she was freezing up. I've done this so many times I can monitor people's thoughts as they have them -- I can read them like thought bubbles.

She's a lesbian.

Wait. What do I say?

Oh no, I've waited too long and she thinks I'm a horrible bigot, even though I'm Canadian.

"Oh," she said, clearly wishing she was saying something else. But what? But what?

The earthling's friend, David, looked up at me. "Girls can't have a wife," he said confidently.

David's mother made a tiny horrified noise. I didn't even need to look at her to know that she was thinking now she thinks my children are horrible and bigoted too.

But children are easy. Children are never any problem. "Yes, they can," I said to David. "Men can marry men and women can marry women, and I'm married to [earthling]'s mommy." (Straight parents, a tip for you: The key is to sound blandly confident. Use the same tone you'd use to say, "Actually, the capital of California is Sacramento.")

David took the conversation back to what matters to small children: themselves. "My mommy is married to my daddy," he informed me, and he and the earthling went back to playing with leaves and sticks.

A minute later, David's mother, having processed her horror and figured out what to say, chimed in with, "Of course women and women can be married!" She pretty clearly had a whole speech ready, but too late. Small children learn hundreds of new things every week, and they just don't have a lot of time to spend on any single irrelevant, unimportant new fact, like that women can be married to women. David had already filed this away, and he wasn't listening anymore.

David's mother left the conversation embarrassed and worried. She was the only person involved who had any feelings about it at all. These days, it doesn't matter to me the way it matters to other people.


My family is pretty basic: two adults and a child. But even now, when we can legally be married, legally file taxes together, legally be co-parents -- even now, forms almost never have room for us. There's the basic ones that assume that each child has a mother and a father, of course, but recently we filled out some for the school distract that had a ton of options: mother/grandmother/legal guardian/caregiver/foster parent/other. And father/grandfather/legal guardian/caregiver/foster parent/other. The only possibility that seemed not to have occurred to the school was two parents of the same sex.

I always cross out "father" and write "mother" over it. I cross out "husband" and write "wife." Often, this leads to unhappiness on the part of a receptionist or records keeper somewhere. "But the computer doesn't have a place for that! Can I just put sister?"

"She's not my sister, and she is responsible for my medical bills if I die."

"I'll just put sister."

But then sometimes I pick up a form that says Parent 1 and Parent 2, or Spouse 1 and Spouse 2, or something along those lines.

As soon as I see that, I look behind the desk, analyzing. Who works in this office who is queer? I want to ask. Because we only ever fit on forms designed by people like us.


"Are you sisters?"

"No, we're not related."

"Oh, just really good friends then, huh? You look so much alike! You must get that a lot."

"Yeah, we get it a lot."


In college, I had a therapist. One day, she asked, "Are you still together with [Best Beloved]?"

"Yeah," I said, confused. I mean. I'd been with BB for years. Surely it would have come up in therapy if we'd broken up? I figured I'd have some feelings about it and all.

"Huh," she said. "I'm surprised. I guess I just see lesbian relationships as more ephemeral than straight ones." She continued on thoughtfully, "I don't know why that is. You'd think I'd know better; my sister's been with her partner for a decade, after all. Well. I'll have to do some work on that, won't I?"

For the record, she was a very good therapist.

This week, I took the earthling to his pediatrician, Dr. G. Dr. G has known him since he was born, and she's known us since I was six months pregnant. BB and I met her together at the pre-birth interview thing, and BB was there in the hospital when the earthling was born, and BB comes to appointments when she can.

As Dr. G entered some data about the earthling into her computer, she asked, "Are you still with [BB]?"

I blinked at her. "We just celebrated our twenty-first anniversary," I said, after a moment's pause.

"Oh! Wow! Congratulations," she said, and we moved on.

I really doubt she's ever asked my sister, whose kids also see this doctor, if she's still married to her husband. I've been married longer; BB was at my sister's wedding. But, hey, my marriage is ephemeral, right? It could end at any time. Unremarked upon, even.

For the record, Dr. G is a very good pediatrician.


"Are you twins?"


"You look like twins!"

"No, we're not related."

"Wow! You look just like each other. How crazy is that, huh?"


It's just a reflex by now.

We were checking in for a spa day that my mother schedule for us: me, my sister (except technically not my sister, who is always late), and Best Beloved. "Oh, are you all Ruth's daughters?" the receptionist asked.

"No. Laura and I are. [BB] is my wife," I said.

And I could, of course, see her thoughts as they happened:

Oh, they're lesbians!

I am entirely and sincerely pro-gay, and so is my workplace. I voted against Prop 8! Yay, gay people!

…But what do I say now?

"Oh," she said, straightening up a little.

Wait, that sounds dismissive. Say something else! Say a better thing! Say the right thing!

"That's great!" she said.

I glanced up at her. "Yes, it is." And then I went back to texting my sister to find out where she was.


"Are you twins?"

"No. She's my wife."

"…Oh. Um."


Straight people, I will tell you a secret: there is no right response. Just listen and get on with your lives. I've learned to.
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[personal profile] fox 2014-04-02 02:19 am (UTC)(link)
Our marriage license (in a Maryland suburb of DC) had spaces for Person 1 and Person 2. (Just two, but that's probably also only for now, right? Attach schedule P?) Anyway. I was the one filling it in, so I got to be Person 1. Hurrah.

Friend of mine said the big upcoming event of his summer was that his daughter was getting married. "Oh, that's great!", I said. "Do you like the boy?"

He says "Well, it's a girl, but --"

I will take half credit for not even blinking, much less missing a conversational beat, before I said "Do you like the girl?" (He likes her fine. She makes his daughter happy.)

But I will dock myself the other half credit for leaping to outmoded conclusions. Sigh. I have some work to do.
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[personal profile] celtprincess13 2014-04-02 02:22 am (UTC)(link)
Okay, I already knew the story about your mom telling Laura, but it still makes me laugh to read it, every time. "So are we out of milk or WHAT?"

Something you wrote before has always stuck with me, that people don't necessarily refer to BB as your wife. It made me more aware of that in myself (although I can't say I noticed myself doing that) and it's something I've tried to avoid since I became aware it was a thing people did. Wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, I always try to use the appropriate term.

ETA: Which makes me sound like a smug asshole and that isn't how I meant it. I meant it in the same why as I do learning the proper way to pronounce someone's name or asking where they're from instead of assuming ("oriental" vs. Korean, Chinese, etc). It's about respect, is what I mean.
Edited 2014-04-02 02:25 (UTC)

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[personal profile] stasia 2014-04-02 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
I have a set response for a person when they come out to me. I smile, nod, and get on with the original point of the conversation.

Unless the coming out IS the point of the conversation, in which case I say "Okay." and smile and nod.

The amount of fucks I give (other than those relating to the fact that it's so nice that people can actually come out more safely now) about other people's sexuality is about as many as your sister gave before she got milk that morning.

So, um, how nice for you and BB that you've managed to stay married for so long. Marriage can be difficult, regardless of the sex of the parties involved and it's reassuring to see a couple who're making it work.

In other news, I was thinking about you and the Earthling and BB just yesterday, thinking that you hadn't posted in ages and wondering how you are and how nice, now you've posted!



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[personal profile] out_there 2014-04-02 02:25 am (UTC)(link)
I just stared at her, trying to figure out how you have a teeny weeny bit of sex.

You're not the only one. *boggles at the concept* Mind you, I get it. A lot of doctors go the whole "could you be pregnant?" followed by "are you sexually active?" and I usually let it slide with the "Not at the moment" non-answer (well, y'know, it's true. I'm not seeing anyone and haven't for years. The fact that if I was it would most likely be another girl is something I'm really not going to go into when I'm so very single at the moment. Thus goes my logic for avoiding the little coming out moments).

"I'm using lesbianism for birth control."


"I'm surprised. I guess I just see lesbian relationships as more ephemeral than straight ones."

On the one hand, at least it's honest. On the other... *sighs*

I liked this post. It was interesting and funny and something that gets glossed over in fic -- I'm now trying to think of any story where it hasn't been a huge Coming Out Moment but a little coming out reminder to a stranger, and now all I can think of is a moment in an Avengers fic (Losing Sight of the Shore) where Natasha shares the knowledge that Phil's gay, and there's a range of reactions (Tony not caring at all, Steve having that moment of shock and "what do I say now"). But it's really not something that I've read about often -- more often, it's either one big coming out event or once the relationship's established, everyone magically knows and accepts instantly.

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[personal profile] laurajv 2014-04-02 02:27 am (UTC)(link)
It's interesting to read your point of view, because usually when I come out, there is some teeth-gritting on my part. A large part of that is because I'm bi, but married to someone who is not the same gender I am, so I'm assumed to be straight with some extra...intensity, I guess? And of course, usually I'm not in a situation where coming out is a more casual thing, like mentioning a wife or a girlfriend -- because I don't have those, and if I did, people will still be wrong about my sexuality.

I wonder how common that kind of difference is?

As a data point, our pediatrician always asks me if there have been "changes in the home", by which he means deaths, divorce, people moving in or out, etc. I always figured it was a standard question, because that kind of thing can cause behavioral issues in kids, but maybe not, if yours isn't asking your sister. Huh.
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[personal profile] niqaeli 2014-04-02 02:58 am (UTC)(link)
*gestures* What she said! (Being I am also a person who is queer and married to someone not the same gender.) It's fascinating to get this perspective because I see reflections of the ongoing coming out experience that I deal with, but it's all subtly different too.

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[personal profile] fairestcat 2014-04-02 02:44 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, this. THIS.

Marna and I get mistaken for sisters all the time. And once, memorably, an old co-worker saw a picture of us I had in my cubicle and asked if Marna was my mother. /o\

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[personal profile] fred_mouse 2014-04-02 04:38 am (UTC)(link)
I don't think I've ever been mistaken for a relative of a partner, but through the later part of my teen years my mother and I were mistaken for partners more than once. This was partly because of the places that we were at the time.

I find it hilarious now. At the time I think I was more of the 'can't you tell she's too old for me you weirdos'*?

* I'm hard to pick an age on. I spent the years 14-34 being mistaken for mid-20s.

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[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard 2014-04-02 02:47 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, thanks for this post. As a previous commenter said, it's always fascinating to read about someone whose experience is so radically different from mine.

I've never felt I had anything to come out about, not once. Everyone in my life knows that I'm engaged to my same sex partner, and not once have I presented the same-sexness as a piece of information about me that they need to know, nor has anyone ever reacted to this any differently than when I was dating a guy. It's a complete non-issue.

And we're both in SoCal, aren't we? Weird how different people's experiences can be.
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[personal profile] dira 2014-04-02 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
I am just at the beginning of this, having worked out that I'm queer all of three months ago; I still haven't actually gotten to the Coming Out to My Parents step (to be followed by Coming Out to Facebook, which I think will actually be more momentous in a way). But I do find that I have that moment where--if I want to talk about something relating to my girlfriend I have to brace myself to also be coming out to whoever I'm talking to, and. Yeah. That.

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[personal profile] eruthros 2014-04-02 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
Coming out to doctors is SO TERRIBLE. They are easily half of my list of "people who disregard my stated sexuality." The worst was the person I had to talk into accepting that I couldn't be pregnant at great length - as it turned out I had strep throat, not pregnancy, who would have thought based on my symptoms - and then, as I was leaving finally, she gave me a prescription for birth control and told me that I was being irresponsible and that I should start taking it right away "just in case." Like, in case what? In case I break up with my girlfriend of five years and fall onto dick so quickly that I can't even stop at a pharmacy for a condom? ARGH. And the next time I went in she asked me about my boyfriend.

Which is to say, yes, so much coming out, so many varieties, so much weighing people's words.
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[personal profile] lilacsigil 2014-04-02 03:04 am (UTC)(link)
Dicks! They're everywhere! Look out!

I have PCOS and while I was getting that diagnosis I had extremely, extremely, heavy periods. "Could you be having a miscarriage?" "No." "But COULD you be having a miscarriage." "No." "But you could be, right?" "NO I COULDN'T THANK YOU VERY MUCH." And I went on oral contraceptives for the PCOS and every time I got a new script, it was the same het-oriented checkup. Despite the fact that these doctors actually work with my partner, who is the local pharmacist.

OTOH, this year, I went to a gynaecologist to discuss further ways of dealing with my PCOS and they didn't blink an eye at "I'm not using OC for contraception because my partner is a woman" So that was some progress.

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[personal profile] vass 2014-04-02 02:56 am (UTC)(link)
Oh God yes.

At the soup van I used to volunteer for, I dropped it parenthetically into conversation at a point where it was relevant, and then tried to keep going with the conversation, but my supervisor ground to a halt and needed to process.

He thanked me for my honesty. And then wanted to ask me some questions, like when I first knew I was gay. And then wanted to share with me his whole process of learning to be tolerant. How he had initially thought that gay people shouldn't be allowed to adopt, but thanks to his work with the homeless, on the soup van, he has seen so much child abuse and neglect that now he thinks that gay people wouldn't be intrinsically worse parents than that.

sometimes, especially in fiction, it's coming out at a press conference or in front of an audience or something.

I am Iron Man!

For the record, Dr. G is a very good pediatrician.

I'm lucky, there's a queer general practice clinic near enough that I can go there. Rainbow flag sticker on the door, fabulous interior decor, big earnest poster saying "You don't have to tell us you're LGBT - but you can!", etc. It helps to know that that's one non-standard thing about me that they definitely get and do not need explained.
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[personal profile] staranise 2014-04-02 04:03 am (UTC)(link)
Uuugh, I hate the whole "we have to come to a screeching stop and process how I used to be really bigoted" routine.

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[personal profile] halfeatenmoon 2014-04-02 03:03 am (UTC)(link)
As soon as I was out of high school and into university, I started trying to come out to people really early in the relationship, whatever that relationship was. And from there I quickly worked on dropping it into conversation, so that it was only one bit of information in a sentence rather than an announcement. It's easier to respond to "The worst date I ever had was when [girl's name] and I got drunk in a parking lot" than "Just so you know, I only date girls."

Only this is where you and I diverge, I think, because for most of my adult life I've been single. I really, really like being out with people, as out as I can be, as early as possible. But I find it a lot harder to make that visible when I'm just one person. The last year or so is the only year of my life that I've been in some kind of sexual relationship more often than not and it's made the coming out so much easier, especially now that I'm involved in something serious. It's so, so much easier to avoid feeling like I'm hiding my sexuality when I can casually mention a girlfriend instead of trying to turn a conversation in a direction that gives me an in.

I went to a screening at the local Queer Film Festival a few weeks ago, with friends, and it reminded me of why I always hated queer community events and don't go to them any more. I always felt like I was invisible, not because of my sexuality but because I was single. And it's not like I've thought of myself as inferior for being unpartnered, it just felt like these events are a demonstration of a queerness that I can only really demonstrate by holding another girl's hand.

Then again, last week I was taking the train home alone and a teenage guy hassled me with "Are you a lesbian?" questions the entire way, so I guess I'm not THAT invisible.
niqaeli: a pedestrian path lined by trees and shrouded in mist (the path less travelled)

[personal profile] niqaeli 2014-04-02 03:05 am (UTC)(link)
I keep meaning to write something about how I would like to ban from fic the thing where character A comes out to character B, reluctantly or whatever, and character B is pissed off that character A was afraid to come out to them and/or other friends of theirs.

No. You don't get to make this about you. You don't get to be angry. It's not -- I don't care who are you, family or best friend forever. You don't get to be angry that a queer person was afraid. People can and have been certain that someone close would react fine, wouldn't care, and then were wrong. I know people who've had that experience. It's not rare; it's a perfectly rational and well-founded fear. So, no, you don't get to be angry and if you are I'm going to want to punch you in your self-centred face for making it about you and your feelings and not the fear and worry your friend was facing.

Anyway, less tangentially: I am curious -- how often do you get the thing where coming out bounces off people? Where it just doesn't take in their brains? I'm never sure just how much of that problem is the fact that I'm a queer woman married to a man and they somehow just can't hold both concepts in their head.
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[personal profile] lilacsigil 2014-04-02 03:08 am (UTC)(link)
you don't get to be angry and if you are I'm going to want to punch you in your self-centred face for making it about you and your feelings

I would like to vote for more of this every time the "Character B is angry" line comes up.

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[personal profile] lilacsigil 2014-04-02 03:07 am (UTC)(link)
My partner and I have a 3 year age difference and we don't look very alike. Therefore, we must be...mother and daughter! Seriously, we get this all the time. And I didn't particularly want to come out to someone in the pool changing room while naked, while she enthusiastically told me it was great that I brought my mother to the pool. After I clarified, she sidled across the room, patted me on the arm and said "Congratulations", with a look of absolute terror on her face and I never saw her again!
st_aurafina: Two fat brides dressed in white,  kissing. (Fat brides)

[personal profile] st_aurafina 2014-04-03 04:27 am (UTC)(link)
OMG that one was so funny! I was cracking up!
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[personal profile] bessyboo 2014-04-02 03:14 am (UTC)(link)
This was incredibly interesting to read. I never realized the "sister" thing happened that often, god :\\\

The "teeny weeny bit of sex" thing is taking me back to when my doctor asked me a couple years ago if I was sexually active.

"Yes," I said.

"Are you sexually active within a monogamous relationship?"

"No," I said.

"No?" she asked.

"Uh, no," I said, "I've had sex with, you know, a bunch of people. Non-monogamously."

"Oh," she said. "Well, how many partners have you had?"

"Well, how do you define sex?" I asked her. Did she want to know about giving oral? Receiving oral? Did she want to know about either of the orgies I was involved in, before I broke off with a single dude for the rest of the night at each? Any number of these activities could have involved disease transfer, what exactly was she looking for?

She laughed. "Thank you for reminding me that that question's a lot more complicated than we usually think. You're right. For purposes of this, I'm asking about male-female vaginally penetrative sex."

To this day, I am not sure how I feel about this interaction. I think I am most bothered by how taken aback she was at the fact that I was not, in fact, having sex in a monogamous relationship.

But it's definitely a thing that will stay with me, the way she laughed.

ETA: and I just re-read my comment and realized it sounds awfully derailing & like I'm trying to make this about me /o\ I guess my point was more, this has brought up a lot of feelings I have about how poorly our medical system often seems to address sex & sexual health. The doctor I see now (not the same doctor), when I said I was sexually active, her first question was "men or women?" Boom, right off the bat. I like her a lot better. But I've been incredibly privileged that, monogamous relationship or no, their questions were DESIGNED to ask about the type of sex I'm often having. And yet....still feels like an uphill battle. Basically: I am having a lot of semi-coherent rage about that nurse who wouldn't fucking LISTEN to you.
Edited 2014-04-02 03:24 (UTC)
torachan: (Default)

[personal profile] torachan 2014-04-02 03:41 am (UTC)(link)
The doctor I see now (not the same doctor), when I said I was sexually active, her first question was "men or women?"

Yeah, I have insurance through Kaiser and the doctors and nurses I've seen there have all asked "do you have sex with men or women?" first thing.

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[personal profile] lilacsigil 2014-04-02 03:42 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, one good thing about Australia (though we have no gay marriage) is that "partner" is a term commonly used by all kinds of couples, so forms often just have "partner" rather than husband/wife, as it's illegal to discriminate between de facto and married couples (unless you're a gay couple wanting to adopt but let's not go into that now.) It means that you can be stealth-gay in casual interactions pretty easily: "this medication is for my partner". OTOH, it also contributes to invisibility.
riverlight: A rainbow and birds. (Default)

[personal profile] riverlight 2014-04-02 04:44 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for sharing this. It feels... I don't know if it's meant to make me feel this way, but I'm sitting here simmering in anger on your behalf. Sigh. I know things are so much better than they used to be on gay issues—I mean, even in my lifetime things have gone from "get warned by an older lesbian to keep calm and try to pass" to "oh hey, cool, you're gay, no biggie"—but there's still so much to go.

Mostly I don't mind coming out—I mean, I've been doing it for half my life by now, so it's just another thing about me that I've figured out how to mention. But recently the thing that's started tripping me up is that I'm trying out OkCupid for dating, and I've been out with a couple of guys, and having to somehow work into the conversation that I also date girls is really odd. Like you said, I've done it often enough now that I can watch the thoughts pass across their faces. (Holy shit, that's hot! is usually the first, sigh.) I haven't yet met a guy who's been cool enough to go, "Huh, okay, cool," and move on. When I do, maybe he'll be a keeper. You wouldn't think that'd be such a hard response.
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[personal profile] cinco 2014-04-02 02:25 pm (UTC)(link)
I had a profile on OK Cupid about a year ago where I was listed as dating men and women, and one man wrote me a message that started with "I support your bisexual lifestyle" instead of hello. (I did not respond.)

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sara: "The world will know the true genius of the Great Dr. Heteronormative!" (dr. heteronormative)

[personal profile] sara 2014-04-02 05:38 am (UTC)(link)
I recently asked a woman I've worked with for years on a community board to come be on the board at the nonprofit I work for, and as part of our...I don't know what to call it, collective discernment process, she and I and the board president went out to lunch.

And as part of that, we were talking about our lives, and the prospective board member, talking about what had brought her to our city, said something about how she'd come out to take a job, but then the guy found out she was both assertive and a lesbian and fired her (this was in the 1980s) so she went into real estate.

And I sort of held my breath, because I've known for years but I wasn't sure how this would go, and Board President laughed and said yeah, she'd been a teacher's union negotiator for much of her career so she knows what guys like that are like when they have to deal with women. And I thought, whew! but at the same time I thought, you know, feeling like you've got to bring the conversation around in such a way that you can come out while you're in the opening stages of a volunteer commitment, urgh, I understand the necessity at the same time I wish it weren't necessary. And it wasn't at all right for me to pat her on the shoulder and say, "I admire your ongoing bravery in dealing with this!" because she is a grown woman and badass and that would not be the Done Thing. But I am super glad she's going to come work with me some more, and that the establishment response was "okey-doke."

(Not least because I also just hired a woman who's married to another woman.)
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[personal profile] monanotlisa 2014-04-02 06:44 am (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] myalexandria 2014-04-02 08:02 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for writing this up.
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[personal profile] deird1 2014-04-02 08:16 am (UTC)(link)
I rather loved the conversation you had with your mother - partly because I had exactly the opposite one. My mother was convinced that my best friend and I were together, and subtly tried to give me an opportunity to come out, and I had no idea.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)

[personal profile] raven 2014-04-02 08:38 am (UTC)(link)
This is a really great post, and thank you for making it.
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[personal profile] ekaterinn 2014-04-02 08:56 am (UTC)(link)
I love this post, and especially your conversation with your mother. I actually came out twice to my own mum, since she was so non-reactive the first time (mind you, there was other family drama going on then).

For me, it's not only the continuous process of coming out, but also where I choose not to come out. I'm a teacher in the South, so I'm only out to a couple of coworkers. I know at least a few of the parents of my students that I'm close to would be shocked to find out that I'm a lesbian. (I have sneaked a couple books with queer families in my classroom though). I also wonder if some of the other teachers or parents may have guessed.

Of course, I also got the amusement of a couple of weeks, where OkCupid suggested me and my actual sister (who's bi) would be a great match. :P
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[personal profile] juliet 2014-04-03 11:50 am (UTC)(link)
I came out to my parents twice, too, by accident! The first time we had all had a couple of glasses of wine, and it was in the middle of an argument about Teh Gays (my parents being... of their generation, shall we say). It turned out that they didn't actually take me seriously *eyeroll* which I suppose is the downside of using your personal experience as a point in a tolerance-&-diversity discussion.

The second time it was in the middle of my coming out as poly. One of my partners at the time was female. So I said I was going out with X and Y and Z, and they looked a bit shocked but in several different ways...
"You did know I was bi, right?"
"Um... no?"
"BUT I TOLD YOU oh anyway whatever this is clearly not the most traumatising thing for you in this discussion."
lilalanor: a pink cupcake (Default)

[personal profile] lilalanor 2014-04-02 09:18 am (UTC)(link)
I am reminded of the fact that pretty much every person I have come out to in my circle of friends was like 'you can't be gay! You're too girly/feminine/you have long hair' (the person who said 'but biracial people aren't queer' was...special. Also the social worker who firmly insists that I'll 'find a nice boy' was...interesting).
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)

[personal profile] synecdochic 2014-04-02 10:39 am (UTC)(link)
I'm so glad Sarah and I look nothing alike, or else I'd have Rent stuck in my head all the time: "Sisters?" "We're close."

I mostly bull through the "constant coming-out" by being so in-your-face about things that absolutely nobody is surprised, heh. But Sarah, who works for the police department, deals with the het assumptions so often.

We picked our latest doctor because in the "about us" photos on the website, the physician's assistant was a woman with short hair in a shirt and tie. Obviously gender identity and sexuality are not necessarily related, but we figured that any practice where the PA felt free to be gender-nonconforming was probably one where we'd feel comfortable. (And it was a good theory! Nobody at the practice batted an eyelash and as soon as they ascertained that we were married and I wasn't just a friend, it was 'switch over mindset without blinking'.) I totally know what you mean about the "who here is one of us" thought.

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