Not as hard as coming out, but still not easy
January 27, 2011 7:19 PM Subscribe
[Queer-filter] How do you cope with the ambient heterosexism of everyday life?
posted by zahava to human relations (33 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I've been out for years and am lucky to have progressive friends and family and live in a progressive city. I don't have to deal with much overt homophobia. But...it still seems like there's an occasion every couple of days when I'm reminded that I don't actually have the rights that straight people have and that some people think that my intimate relationships are wrong or offensive. I feel like it puts me at a distance from other people sometimes, because I start to retreat to protect myself, and I don't like that.
In case some recent examples would help:
- an older friend of my family implied that I shouldn't have kids because it wouldn't be fair to them to be raised by a gay parent
- a dear friend, who's totally pro-gay, posted on facebook about how happy she is to be "married filing jointly" this year. I know that wasn't remotely intended to hurt anyone, but it reminds me that as long as DOMA stands, that's something I wouldn't be allowed to do
- I was getting to know new work contacts the other day and a moment came up when I would normally have mentioned my ex-girlfriend (explaining why I was familiar with a topic of conversation that she had worked on), but I chose not to in case it would make the other people uncomfortable, esp. since I knew one was an ex-Marine
- when I'm in a relationship, it seems like we always get lots of stares for holding hands and mild PDA. (I don't think I read as especially gay unless I'm obviously part of a couple, so being with a girlfriend always makes me feel a little bit like I was passing the rest of the time, and not realizing how others really felt about gay people because they didn't know I was gay.)
I know these examples are all at different levels of seriousness. But they kind of all accumulate. To the point where I hold myself at a little bit of a distance a lot of the time out of worry that straight people will subtly reject me or just not understand me. I know most people don't mean to. And it gets exhausting to constantly be on alert to how people are reading me and reacting to me. Should I just stop worrying about it? (Assuming I'm not in any physical danger.) How do you deal with this kind of stress? How do you deal with the constant question of whether to come out, and even when you're out, whether to downplay your sexual orientation or be more open and vocal about it?
I'm not so much looking for advice on how to handle the particular examples I described as thoughts on how to generally approach being queer in a society with a lot of heterosexism. I've read a little bit about covering and a little bit about minority stress. I think those ideas are both on point and I'd love any reading suggestions you have in those areas, or any other reading suggestions or personal experiences you could share. I have lots of queer friends, but we don't talk about this much. It seems like we often all try to pretend that we're just fine.