Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Think Big: Happy Valentine's Day

Those of us in the gay and lesbian community understand coming out, but some have found that coming out isn't easy for some folks to understand. They still think, but WHY do you NEED to come out?

To answer that, Julie Enszer of AlterNet has 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.


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