Coming out is constant

This is not news to anyone who defines themselves with an invisible identity – be it sexual orientation, disability, or a life experience like loss or trauma. You’re going to encounter people on almost a daily basis who make an assumption about you that you feel the need to correct. Or maybe you just want to feel authentic and share who you are and what’s important to you, totally unprovoked. Both of those scenarios are familiar to me.

Today I had my hair cut at a new place. I was priced out of my old salon – just couldn’t afford it anymore as my stylist became a master stylist, and inflation increased salon fees. A new hair stylist is stereotypically someone you’re going to open up to. You’re stuck with them for an hour, and awkward silence is sometimes worse than awkward small talk. So I made small talk with my new potential stylist.

I wanted to share that I had a toddler. Pretty soon that led to a discussion of her genetics – the stylist wanted to know where my daughter got her curls from. I explained that my daughter had two moms, and our sperm donor has his own kids who have super curly hair. I figure her hair comes from his genetics. I say this with confidence, because I’m asked all the time.

The stylist replied, after a moment of pondering, “so your boyfriend or husband… Wait, can you explain that?”

“I have a wife. My kid has two moms. We used a sperm donor to have our kid.”

“Ooh, I see. I was like, ‘how does she have two moms?’ You just assume that a woman is with a man, you know?”

And there it is. I’m totally OK with people making the assumption that I have a male partner. I get it. We’re socialized to make that assumption. What I don’t like is when it’s used as an excuse, rather than as an awareness building exercise… When someone uses the “I just assumed…” line on me as an excuse (it happens a lot), it comes out as almost an accusation on me for being confusing. For having a confusing family arrangement. I’d love it if one day someone said “oh I’m sorry, I assumed…” and then continue with a recognition that they didn’t have to make that assumption, and don’t have to in the future. That it’s ok to use the term “partner” until someone discloses the gender of their partner.

Anyway, I shrugged it off. But then she continued to dig herself into a hole. She asked if I was married (after I referred to my wife multiple times). She said “it must be nice to be able to get married now, right? You can do a lot of things now, actually.”

Ummm, yup, I guess I’m pretty lucky to have almost equal rights here in Canada. Not sure how to respond. And without a response from me, she continued…

“I mean, I can see why people didn’t want you to get married, too, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.”

Oh god. This woman needs so much guidance and information.

To put icing on the cake of subtle prejudice and ignorance, she ended with this comment, as she was holding up the mirror to show me the finished hair cut: “your wife must be really happy that she found you!”

I stared blankly, trying to figure out what reason she had in mind, as someone who has known me for 30 minutes and has never met my wife.

She responded to my blank stare with, “because you’re really pretty! It must be really hard to find someone who looks like you, you know, in the gay scene.”

And there it was. She slapped me with possibly the most offensive lesbian stereotype in existence – the stereotype that all lesbians are butch and/or unattractive by Western beauty ideals. That butch = unattractive. That femmes don’t exist, or are some rare exotic gem that all the butch lesbians must be clamouring over.

Anyway, despite this yucky social experience, I liked the hair cut. And you know what? I think I’ll go back to her, because I’m paying for the haircut, not the conversation, and I think she needs to spend more time talking with me.

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14 thoughts on “Coming out is constant

  1. As I read this I was rolling my eyes at her ignorant comments, and then my jaw dropped over her final one. I’m super impressed that you plan to go back to her and use your patience and knowledge to gently educate her. She definitely needs to spend more time talking with you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I LOVE that you’re going back. I don’t think anyone has an obligation to educate others (especially not after those offensive comments), but the potential change and growth we can foster if we do can be immense. I’ve had a few amazing breakthroughs with people by pushing past their ignorance and continuing the dialogue πŸ’œ

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I think it’s awesome you’re giving her a second chance! It’s clearly the first time she’s interacted with someone who leads a different lifestyle than hers. You’re so patient for putting up with that!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Was she Canadian? Some of her comments truly resonated as living in a society that was not truly open to diversity.

    If she is Canadian, you need to charge her tution fees on re educating her on our rights πŸ™‚

    If she aint, well, Id say its great you are going back to open her eyes to the many freedoms that we Canadians know and love.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ughhhhhhh πŸ˜‘ the constant coming out sucks. But kudos to you for saying she needs to spend more time with you! Whenever I encounter situations like this I try to do the same… I figure the more people I can impact, even if it’s uncomfortbale or hard for me, the better off everyone is!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, my wife gets stuff like this at work occasionally. Although they seem shocked she is married to a Butch lesbian. They usually assume she is married to another femme, after they get over the shock of being in the presence of a legally married lesbian. Ps. we live in Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

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