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Author Topic:   Valentine's Day Challenge
Jaderis
Member (Idle past 1982 days)
Posts: 622
From: NY,NY
Joined: 06-16-2006


Message 1 of 55 (385098)
02-14-2007 3:34 AM


I thought this was interesting...

From an article on Alternet by Julie Enszer

I tell people that I am a lesbian regularly. In the gay and lesbian communities, we call that "coming out." Sometimes coming out is overt; I say, "I'm a lesbian." Sometimes, it is subtle; I refer to my partner as my "wife" or I mention that I am vacationing with my partner and specify her sex with the pronoun, "her." When I do this, I sometimes still get raised eyebrows or double-takes. I'm fine with that. I appreciate the opportunity to be visible to people who might not know that they know and interact with a lesbian on a regular basis.

I'm confounded, though, when people ask me why I need to tell people that I am a lesbian or that my partner is a woman. Here is the truth: I don't need to tell people that I'm gay. I never plan or want to tell people that I'm a lesbian. It just comes up in daily conversation.

Consider this: I'm at the grocery store checking out and the cashier says, "Oh, yum, you're making greens!" I, equally chatty, reply, "Actually, I'm not going to make them, but my wife will." She says, without pause, "Well, I'm sure they will be delicious."

Or this: I'm talking with someone at work about the holidays and how happy I am to just have a quiet holiday alone with my partner. In the process of talking about my partner, the work colleague asks, "What does your husband do?" I say, "She's a lawyer." The colleagues pauses, very briefly, but then continues the conversation.

Now these are just two examples of the easy, social ways that I, and other gay and lesbian people, come out. There are situations when it is necessary and much more difficult to come out. An in-law is sick or infirmed; a partner is diagnosed with a disease. Tragic grief and loss are times when many gay and lesbian people are forced to come out to co-workers, family, and friends, to get time off and the support that they need to weather the crisis.

We in the gay and lesbian community understand coming out, but I've found that coming out isn't easy for some heterosexual folks to understand. They still think, but WHY do you NEED to come out?

To answer that, I have a challenge for you: This Valentine's Day, don't indicate to anyone all day what the gender of your sweetie is. Evade. When people ask, "What are you doing this evening?" Say, "I'm having dinner with a someone special," or, "My partner and I are seeing a movie." Some people will assume that the person you reference is of the opposite sex. Some people may think you are in a same-sex relationship. How do you feel about that? How do you think gay and lesbian people feel?

Some people probe further, if they do, avoid revealing the gender. Refer to your significant other as a person without the use of any pronouns. Don't use "him" or "her"; keep the dialogue as "we" or "us." If it gets too uncomfortable, absent yourself from the conversation. If someone probes too much, say, "I'm uncomfortable sharing more with you." How do you feel about that? What does the person you are talking to think about that?

Do it for one day. Valentine's Day. It may be the day we talk the most about our intimate relationships, but it is only 24 hours to not tell anyone the gender of the person with whom you'll celebrate.

Watch how people react. Observe how people -- friends and strangers -- respond to your evasions. How do you feel about concealing the gender of your special someone? How do you feel about other's reactions to your silence? What for you is lost? And what for you is gained?

Try it for one day. See how it goes. Then think about the fact that this is what gay and lesbian people do every day. Either we stay "in the closet" and don't reveal the gender of our sweethearts or we do. My hunch is that after one day of doing the same yourself, you'll understand why we make the choices that we do and you won't need to ask why any longer.

Edited by Jaderis, : italics


Replies to this message:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 55 (385100)
02-14-2007 4:10 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jaderis
02-14-2007 3:34 AM


This Valentine's Day, don't indicate to anyone all day what the gender of your sweetie is.

And what if you have no sweetie about whom to talk? :( :( :(

*goes off to sob*

J0N1CU5


This message is a reply to:
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ringo
Member
Posts: 18360
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 3 of 55 (385145)
02-14-2007 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jaderis
02-14-2007 3:34 AM


Jaderis writes:

Either we stay "in the closet" and don't reveal the gender of our sweethearts or we do.

The love of my life was a lesbian.

She would only "come out" to people she trusted. All of her exes had gender-ambiguous names like Jerry/Jerri.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 2154 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 4 of 55 (385154)
02-14-2007 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jaderis
02-14-2007 3:34 AM


Feast Day
A mass boycott of pronouns? How quaint.
Leave it to an American to make Valentine's Day 'good for something.' :rolleyes:

Better to let a neighbor of Enszler's set the tone. Linda Pastan.


I want to write you
a love poem as headlong
as our creek
after thaw
when we stand
on its dangerous
banks and watch it carry
with it every twig
every dry leaf and branch
in its path
every scruple
when we see it
so swollen
with runoff
that even as we watch
we must grab
each other
and step back
we must grab each
other or
get our shoes
soaked we must
grab each other


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Replies to this message:
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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 6026
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 5 of 55 (385157)
02-14-2007 12:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jaderis
02-14-2007 3:34 AM


Some people will assume that the person you reference is of the opposite sex.

How odd that people would assume that. Yes, I'm being facetious.

Watch how people react. Observe how people -- friends and strangers -- respond to your evasions. How do you feel about concealing the gender of your special someone? How do you feel about other's reactions to your silence? What for you is lost? And what for you is gained?

I guess I'm not seeing the challenge or experiment in it. The plain fact is that there is an extraordinarily larger amount of heterosexuals than there are homosexuals. Therefore, most people do assume that the person they are speaking with is heterosexual. The writer seems as if she has just made some sort of sociological break through here. I guess I don't see the point in the experiment.


"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." -C.S. Lewis

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 23 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 6 of 55 (385159)
02-14-2007 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 12:44 PM


Therefore, most people do assume that the person they are speaking with is heterosexual. The writer seems as if she has just made some sort of sociological break through here. I guess I don't see the point in the experiment.

The point is - how do you think it feels to be on the other end of that? And to have all the blame for it put on you?

I can't understand how this couldn't be any clearer to you. She spelled it out in the story:

quote:
'm confounded, though, when people ask me why I need to tell people that I am a lesbian or that my partner is a woman.

What part of that statement did you have trouble understanding? I literally can't comprehend how you could miss the point so entirely.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2484 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 7 of 55 (385163)
02-14-2007 1:06 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 12:44 PM


the point is, how would you feel if you had to hide the nature of your relationship? how would you feel if everyday people looked at you funny for being with or talking about the person you love and share your life with? how would you feel if people told you that you couldn't get time off work because of your love's illness because you aren't legally joined? how would you feel if you couldn't see your love in the hospital because you aren't legally joined?

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macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2484 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 8 of 55 (385164)
02-14-2007 1:09 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog
02-14-2007 12:50 PM


What part of that statement did you have trouble understanding? I literally can't comprehend how you could miss the point so entirely.

because he clearly has no need to put himself into another person's shoes, because he's so entirely right.


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Taz
Member (Idle past 1848 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 9 of 55 (385166)
02-14-2007 1:15 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 12:44 PM


Seeing your attitude toward gay people, I can see how most of them prefer not to show themselves to you, and that is why you still think there just aren't many around. Take my word for it, just like white protestant males like you, gay people people are everywhere and they are here to stay.

I have taken this challenge a long time ago. For a week, I tried to avoid telling people the gender of my significant other (aka my wife). I always referred to her as "the person" or "my better half". The interesting thing that I noticed was people who would otherwise don't care much for gays were the ones that kept trying to probe me to try to make me spell out the gender of my significant other. Someone my friend recently introduced me to wouldn't let it go and kept asking questions to try to get me to reveal. Someone at work after many questions went straight out and asked "is your significant other a man or woman?"

I have a co-worker who's been working there for 5 years now. I only recently found out she's been married (not legally of course) to the same woman for 10 years now. At some point in her life, she decided to not share her happiness with anyone at all by pretending she didn't have a significant other at all. Right now, I'm the only one in our office that knows she's living with someone else. As far as everyone else is concern, she's living by herself. I might also like to add that she decided to pretend to be alone because of people like you who thinks gay people who are in monogomous relationships are so extraordinarily rare and when there is one around to be seen he/she must be some sort of freak.

The writer seems as if she has just made some sort of sociological break through here.

The sociological break through is do you have any idea how hard it is to try to hide the gender of your significant other, especially when the very language we use everyday to communicate with other people is designed to make it hard for us to hide people's gender? Why do I have the priviledge of using "my wife" or "her" or "she" just because I'm part of a majority while the people who belong to the minority in this respect have to use something as lame as "my significant other" just to make people like you feel happy?

Actually, you don't even have to use "my signficant other". Go ahead and try to say "my spouse" a few times and see how uncomfortable that is both for you and the people you are talking to.


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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 6026
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 10 of 55 (385168)
02-14-2007 1:19 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog
02-14-2007 12:50 PM


The point
The point is - how do you think it feels to be on the other end of that? And to have all the blame for it put on you?

I got the memo, but I still don't understand the point. People feel stigmatized for all sorts of reasons. I mean, what exactly does she want? Sympathy because most people are heterosexual? If she was just born homosexual and I was just born heterosexual, and its noboady's fault, what exactly am I supposed to feel sorry about? If that's the way it is, then that's the way it is, right?


"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." -C.S. Lewis

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 1069 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 11 of 55 (385170)
02-14-2007 1:22 PM


fuck valentine's. why the fuck do we need to set aside a whole day out of the year to do whatever the fuck you do on valentine's? do you really have to wait until this day, or a birthday, or christmas, or whatever other fucking holiday to do something special? fuck it all.

(yes, I'm pissed right now, and it has nothing to do with valentine's, it's just caught in the cross fire. ignore my rant).

(better I beat up on an abstract idea than on my desk, computer, or anyother physical thing)


  
kuresu
Member (Idle past 1069 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 12 of 55 (385171)
02-14-2007 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 1:19 PM


Re: The point
no, the point is, how the hell would you like to be looked down upon for something that is or isn't your choice?

what if everyone gave you wierd looks because you claimed to be heterosexual? how would you feel if they asked, why do you need to "come out"?

point simple--don't look at homosexuals wierdly for having a need to come out or even be homosexual.


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Lithodid-Man
Member (Idle past 1487 days)
Posts: 504
From: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Joined: 03-22-2004


Message 13 of 55 (385172)
02-14-2007 1:28 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 12:44 PM


The challenge
NJ writes:

I guess I'm not seeing the challenge or experiment in it.

I think the challenge here is to attempt to get a real feel for how another group of people feel. It has nothing to do with relative numbers. It has to do with whether or not you could leave a conversation with the other party assuming you are gay. Would it be no big deal at all to you? Or would it be hard to not shout "I am not gay!"? (btw, I know from personal experience that for me the latter choice is as hard to resist as not blinking)

The point is that after performing this experiment, you might think about. You might think what it would be like to be gay and have everyone assume you are straight. Anyhow, I hope this clarifies the point!


Doctor Bashir: "Of all the stories you told me, which were true and which weren't?"
Elim Garak: "My dear Doctor, they're all true"
Doctor Bashir: "Even the lies?"
Elim Garak: "Especially the lies"

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Taz
Member (Idle past 1848 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 14 of 55 (385174)
02-14-2007 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 1:19 PM


Re: The point
nemesis writes:

I mean, what exactly does she want?


She wants you to try to understand that it isn't easy to try to hide the gender of her significant other.

Let's be honest, there are many people out there who keep saying things like "why do gays have to shove their sexuality in my face all the time like that?" when all people do is tell other people about their significant others. As far as I know, noone has ever told me that I advertise my sexuality just because I'm straight, yet I've seen and heard people criticize gay people just because some gay people would say something like "my husband" or "my wife".

what exactly am I supposed to feel sorry about?

You're not suppose to feel sorry about anything, and that's the point you apparently don't want to see. The point of the challenge isn't to get you to feel sorry for anybody. The point is for you to understand how hard it is to try to hide the gender of your spouse. It isn't easy, that is if you decide to try to understand other people a little more, and yet gay people are expected by society in large to hide the gender of their spouses because god forbids if a lesbian ever reveals that her spouse is a woman she is shoving her sexuality into your face.

This message is a reply to:
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ringo
Member
Posts: 18360
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 15 of 55 (385178)
02-14-2007 1:47 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
02-14-2007 12:44 PM


nemesis_juggernaut writes:

Therefore, most people do assume that the person they are speaking with is heterosexual.

Allow me to quote myself:

quote:
The love of my life was a lesbian. Message 3

So, am I a lesbian?

Go ahead, read all my posts and see what hints I've given about my sexuality. I'll wait.
**taps toe in a feminine manner**

Have you been assuming all along that I was a straight male? What would change if you found out I was a lesbian? Would you think less of me?

And this is only the Internet. What about real life, where you can't change your avatar so easily? What would you think of my wife if she was the same sex as me?


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This message is a reply to:
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