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The Smile of a Bigot

There is more to discrimination than an inequality of basic rights. Rarely are we overtly denied the same rights and privileges of everyone else, except marriage and spousal benefits. Yet, discrimination has many faces and layers and methods, the most prevalent of which is simple unfriendliness. The first two years Lee and I were together, we seldom were apart. I, at least, seldom went anywhere without him, at first because we worked together and wanted to be together, then because of my health, or lack thereof. Now that he is working and I am not and I am able to get out more, I am often out alone. Just as I don’t look like I have advanced heart disease, I do not look gay.

It’s impossible to say for sure that someone I encounter would behave differently to Lee and I as a couple than to Lee alone or me alone. That people in general are profoundly more friendly to me when I am by myself is horribly obvious, though. I don’t’ think I am less friendly when we are together. I’m quiet, shy, reserved no matter who I’m with. In fact, Lee is far more outgoing than I am and quick to help a stranger with a door or heavy bag. Still people seem friendlier by far when Lee is not with me.

Except in pictures as a very small child, there has never been a mistaking Lee is either lesbian or trans-gender. In his teens, twenties, thirties, and now forties, his pictures show a steady progression towards living as a man with an undeniable non-heterosexual identity at every age. Has he never know how people behave when they are not bigoted? I realize not everyone is, but those that are flavor every experience out in public. As we all scan a crowd, the faces, eyes, smiles and energy of the group at large is received as friendly or hostile, safe or a threat. Has my hero husband never known what it is like to scan those faces and feel completely safe? To feel no contempt or hostility? To not be judged at all, but accepted completely?

Though my world was friendlier, was his world perhaps more real? I only thought the crowd was friendly. Some of the friendly faces I saw were  disguises. Bigots lived behind those smiling masks. Just like it is hard to tell if someone is a bigot or is just unfriendly, it’s hard to tell which perception has been real. It’s hard even now.


October 6, 2010 - Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I agree, it is hard to know. Looks are so deceiving. Only those who have never fit it and who have been treated differently know what it is – to be kind to another human being. I find that sometimes I’d rather hang out with misfits then typical members of society because they actually know the difference between respect and ignorance.

    Comment by Dace | October 6, 2010 | Reply

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