In the midst of alienating my remaining blog audience, I skipped two chances to disclose my sexuality this week.
The first was during a discussion group I occasionally attend. One of the participants was a real live social conservative who felt uncomfortable with the idea that everybody else in the room supported gay rights. In contrast, he put his career on the line to oppose Gay-Straight Alliances at his Catholic school, and was plenty upset that GSAs were now being mandated. He wanted Catholic schools to respect the fundamentals of Christianity, and to distinguish themselves from secular schools.
I could have piped up with my sexuality, but I remained silent. Other people in the room claimed affinity with LGBTQ people, however (for example, one participant claimed to have a trans child).
The second missed opportunity took place during my weekly community service at a local market garden. Some fellow gardeners and I were talking as we casually murdered innocent plants that had the temerity to grow alongside our food crops. It was a wide ranging discussion. One of the gardeners spoke about her seven kids and her work in the Mormon church. That brought the topic around to other people’s family statuses. I was directly asked whether I had kids and whether I was married. Like the disciple Peter, I denied, denied, denied. I denied having kids. I denied being married. And I denied the opportunity to clarify the status of my sexuality.
So much for Pride Month.
Honestly, it surprises me that anybody thinks I am straight. As I have written previously, I don’t pass particularly well. Fortunately for me, many straight boys have gone metrosexual, which I suppose muddies the waters a little. Even if I do not pronounce my identity with flags and rainbows, there is an argument to be made for people coming out whenever the opportunity presents itself. So in addition to everything else I guess I am much more closeted than I thought.
Honestly, I do not regret remaining in stealth mode during the discussion group. Social conservatives are fascinating, and I would like to know how they work better. This was the first time I met this person, and I did not want him clamming up because I was in the room.
I probably shoud have disclosed at the market garden. I have been working with these gardeners for several weeks, and despite being Mormon and having seven kids I doubt the woman would have rejected me if I had said I was not straight. I do not get the sense that she is that kind of Mormon (but I could be wrong).
I feel that the difference between the two situations is trust. The most effective situation in which to come out is when people already know you and trust you outside the confines of your sexuality. Otherwise you run the risk of being an exemplar for the entire demographic, or being a label for others to project their stereotypes onto. There was a greater risk of that happening in the first situation than the second.
Or probably this is all cowardice, and I feel that others will feel less uncomfortable (and thus I will get by easier) when people presume that I am straight. This situation will surely come up again; it is unclear that I will handle upcoming situations with any more courage.