April 25, 2005 2:56 PM Subscribe
Suppose you are talking to someone (an acquaintance, a workmate, a person at a party) who you are pretty sure is gay. This person is talking about someone s/he is dating and is being completely gender neutral. What is the appropriate response? Do you maintain gender neutrality with your questions and comments (which can get awkward and feel silly)? Do you make a comment that includes the phrase "he or she" to indicate that you're aware that it may be either and that you're nonjudgmental (but potentially putting this person on the spot to pick a gender and out him/herself)? Do you pick the likely gender and continue the conversation blithely the way most people do in assumed-heterosexual conversations (again with the potential outing)? For the purposes of this exercise, assume no one else is in earshot.