Just another site

I Give You Pause

I went shopping and to lunch with my oldest daughter the other day. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Everyone is having such a good time,” and “Folks sure are smiling a lot.” Finally, it hit me. That guardedness, that reserve, that energy of discomfort I had come to know as normal when in a public place, was absent. So was Lee. I wished I had a button to wear, something to identify me as half of a same sex couple. I did not want anyone’s misinformed friendliness. Discomfort may be, well, uncomfortable, but at least it is real.

Seldom are people downright rude. Instead, there is a vague tension or a giddy, nervous friendliness. It is as if people have to pause and decide how to respond and react to us. I’m not blaming or judging, just observing the fact that responding at all, having any encounter at all with someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, was never their intention. To do so is outside their comfort zone, their realm of the expected. It has no ready place to land in their mind. Even as I type this, the word “transgender” is highlighted in red as if it is another word misspelled. Here too, on this word press blog, it has no where to land.

Most, pause and prepare a place. They make that decision to be cool and detached, or to be overly friendly, overcompensating for their lack of ease. Some, feel compelled to tell us they have a gay friend. Some seem to wrap us in their acceptance by telling us of a well loved family member who is among our ranks of GLBT. That came typed in red as well, by the way. Spelling suggestions include “Glob, glib, glut and glitz.”

I recognize this perhaps because I know that pause. I had that mind where the I that I now am, was foreign and different. I wore my gay friends as jewels in the crown of my open mind, as bumper stickers that proclaimed my embracing of diversity and disdain of intolerance.

At least there is a pause.


August 8, 2010 - Posted by | The Straight Me | , , , , ,


  1. Hi Allie. This is such a beautiful post; I love the ambiguity and the subtlety with which you reflect on these social interactions. “I did not want anyone’s misinformed friendliness” – that is such a sad line, but still hopeful in its desire to be understood.

    Having worked most of my adult life in small, mostly rural settings, I have seen plenty of the dismissive bigotry associated with race, orientation, and religion. Mostly because my political and religious views didn’t ordinarily mesh with my colleagues’, I have had the same thoughts when interacting with them. It feels sad and alienating to be cautious and prudent with my ideas/beliefs while at the same time wanting to shout them at the top of my lungs. In a practical sense, I am atheist, but the word still feels like an awkward fit on me.

    I’ve long felt that identity is fungible – it can be exchanged with a new identity fairly easily. I think this scares most people, especially those who have less or more easily incorporated differences from their social group. They prefer to rest safe in their illusion of permanent identity. Except when it comes to hurting another, I can’t really blame them. But some of us, for one reason or another, are forced to confront that black hole of identity and build a self out of it.

    And sometimes we’re forced to use words that spell checks can’t identify. 😉

    Comment by dedalus9 | August 10, 2010 | Reply

    • Beautifully said. I suppose we all have a self we hide. If not, we have one who hides from the self we think we are. After a non near death experience (meaning nothing happened when it had prime opportunity), I abruptly had to abandon all spiritual seeking (and I was a minister). I don’t know if I no longer believe in God, or simply no longer care if there is one or not. That’s a truth I haven’t shouted from the rooftops yet. I’m not sure I could even type the “a” word yet. You are incredibly brave.

      Comment by New Allie | August 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. My understanding is that if we feel different and expect people to feel awkward around us, that is what we project in our own behavior and non verbal communication. If you feel okay with who you are and you do not live with a thought that you want or need to fit in, you will respect yourself and will project this confidence, peace and harmony.
    I found that through my journey. No matter who is in front of you – a religious fanatic or a liberal / democrat. If you do not feel ashamed, do not feel like you care about what others think, and you feel normal and content, that is what you will attract.
    You and I know, that most of the people who are religious are the ones who are looking for guidance, who feel lost and feel insignificant without support of others, and religion provides a “black and white” view of the world where they feel comfortable and content. After all, they do not have to make up their own damn minds on what to think and what to do and god loves them for their weakness.

    Comment by Dace | August 14, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m so glad your experience has been so positive. I am well aware that much of what I feel around me comes from within me. I’m also aware though, that there are responses and reactions from others that do not come from me first. I fully accept my part, my responsibility. I won’t accept responsibility for the reaction of another. I won’t pretend the world is more evolved than it is. I loved your latest post about bigotry being a choice, by the way.

      Comment by New Allie | August 16, 2010 | Reply

      • Allie,
        It’s not like my experience has been way too positive. I have been in situations that are far away from positive, tolerant and respectful. However, I do have a choice to let them get to me or to live my life in harmony and happiness. Also, i do have a choice to surround myself with people who are positive, intelligent, and who can tell right from wrong without prejudice or being bias. Maybe there are not many of them, but each one of them enriches my life and makes me a better person. Narrow minded people, bigots, religious fanatics or any other intolerant people just help me grow and realize that am I am way too good to lower myself to their level. I respect myself too much to take their negativity and let it influence me.

        Comment by Dace | August 19, 2010

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