Earlier this evening someone reminded me that we homosexuals have to come out all the time. Not in the big speech and huge announcement over Christmas or Easter dinner sort of thing, but in everyday life when people make assumptions that have to be corrected.
In the last week, for instance, I’ve come out twice to new people I’ve met. Once to a fellow my age, well a couple of years older, who I had to tell that I was married to Mark. Another was a casual conversation I had with a staffer at school who reminisced that being young meant being single and care-free. I had to tell him I wasn’t single, and then I had to correct his assumption that I had a girlfriend.
So, gay people have to come out all the time in the to and fro between people you meet. Humans, pattern seekers that we are, make assumptions all the time, and we always generalise. When one belongs to a small snippet of a demographic, one has to accept that people generalise you into the larger group of heterosexuals.
I only have to correct those assumptions not to live a lie, and show a little understanding about the generalisations. I don’t really mind, because I recognise it for what it is. It is the human thing to do. But that doesn’t stop it from being, sometimes, really funny.
A devious mind could enjoy seeing the confusion, and slight panic, of people as they go back through their dealings with me to see if they had at any point displayed any homophobic tendencies. No gay jokes; no references to dropped soaps; no use of the word ‘gay’ as meaning bad. Or it could just be seeing the jumbling up of all their assumptions, and how they – surely once again – learn about the dangers of drawing conclusions based on little data.
Still, I recognise that as a gay person, I will have to come out all over again. And again. And again. And it will probably be like that for the rest of my life.