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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
The Pink/Gray/Rainbow Elephant in the room
I often feel like my sexuality is a Pink Elephant in the room that no one realizes is there.

Practically everyone just assumes I'm straight, monogamous, and want the nuclear family. They lead into topics and conversations with that assumption in mind, talking about girlfriends, children, families, and marriage. When asked if I'm married or have a girlfriend I just say "no" rather than respond with "I'm gay" or "Nor a boyfriend". All they see, if anything, is a big gray elephant. In their world view I may as well be straight because statistically speaking not very many people they meet will be gay, so to them it's a safe assumption.

There's an assumption among gay people as well. Even if they know I'm gay they assume I just like sex, that I want the nuclear family, and/or that I'm all over the latest fashion trends or drag races. Given that's the stereotype of gays it's not hard to make that assumption, but it's not accurate and it paints me in a corner. When a conversation goes along the lines of "Oh, you're gay? So what'd you think of so-and-so's dress on that latest episode of drag racing?" all I can do in response is "Huh?". Which then leads to bafflement that I'm not into the same thing they're into.

People like to make assumptions, I get it. It helps them feel more secure about their understanding of the world around them. I don't agree with it and I often have a hard time making the same assumptions when it comes to understanding jokes or relating to others. When I get home I'm going to find my triangle rainbow neck piece and get the strap fixed so I can wear it occasionally. It won't fix the majority of the gay perception, it's not a big huge flashing rainbow, but maybe it'll help adjust the bigger problem of the majority of straight perception. And it would be fun to wear to work since I'm still pretty sure none of them (other than the two I've specifically told) have a clue. Or I'll just paint myself into their corner.

Sometimes I forget how little sexuality matters when it comes to platonic relationships. I make a big deal of it because I don't assume they're straight (hope eternal, eh?), I'm trying to figure out what their sexuality is, if they're okay with mine, and if maybe, just maybe, they'll be someone who is attracted to me if I'm attracted to them. But really? It doesn't matter to conversations about computers, programming, science, books, movies, or anything except sex or relationships.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
legolastn From: legolastn Date: April 29th, 2013 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, unless you're talking about the science of sexuality, or books that deal with sexuality, or movies that deal with sexuality. :)

Sexuality also implicitly organizes relationships that aren't obviously sexualized or are obviously de-sexualized. For example, being in a context with a lot of straight men that assume everyone is a straight man, they interact with each other and with you under the assumption nobody is (potentially) attracted to anybody. That fact is just covered over by the hegemony of heterosexism.

As a conspicuously coupled gay man I don't really get the assumption of straight or if I do it's generally through a question like whether Allen and I are brothers, which quickly gets disspelled since usually we clarify we're partners unless we're feeling like it is a potentially unsafe situation. I guess the place where straightness is assumed the most is in classes by students, since my sexuality isn't always relevant to courses so I don't always tell my classes, but any student with half a clue who comes to my office hours ought to be able to figure it out. I do think there is an assumption of monogamy for those who know us as a couple, but I don't get a lot of stereotyped assumptions directed at me either. I have rarely if ever been asked questions about fashion out of the blue. Maybe moreso about RuPaul's Drag Race but it's usually prefaced by the question of whether I watch/have watched it. I guess this difference in experience might have to do with relative experience and knowledge of social circles re: the gays (and maybe diversity in general), with academia and hippie communes tending to be a bit more experienced/sensitive to issues of sexual orientation?
legolastn From: legolastn Date: April 29th, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Or for that matter any book or movie where discussion of sexuality/attraction-related topics could be relevant.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: May 21st, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Touche. :-)

When you get asked if you watch RuPaul do they get that expression of confusion and disappointment if you say no?

I hadn't thought of the aspect of being partnered with someone, but that does make sense. When the aspect of being gay is on display people are less likely to assume the default heterosexual. I suppose that's why I've gone back to wearing the rainbow pendant (though I've got to remember to put it on before going out or it won't do me any good! hahaha).
legolastn From: legolastn Date: May 22nd, 2013 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know, I don't think anybody has ever asked me if I watch RuPaul...and I said no? Although I may say I only have seen it on Netflix.

Edited at 2013-05-22 01:38 am (UTC)
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: April 30th, 2013 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Three of my eight co-workers are lesbians, and everyone in the office is aware of this, as well as my own orientation... well, they know I'm dating a guy, but don't all know I'm bi, as they generally assume I'm gay... which I suppose just reinforces what you said.

Of course, I also don't really get out much, so my opportunities to interact with the less thoughtful is somewhat minimized.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: May 21st, 2013 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're trying to buck less trends at once so there's less to to shake them out of their comfort zone. And they're already in a comfort zone by assuming you're just gay. Unless you're looking for a girl at the same time they don't need to think that you might not be gay. *shrug*

At my meetup game night the organizer and most of the people there know I'm gay. Most don't know I'm also polyamorous because they haven't had a chance for the subject to come up. I've almost never brought a guy to the game night and they all know I'm single, so there's not much chance for the 'my boyfriend X, and my boyfriend Y' to come up. But ya, I've gotten the impression that if it did that it wouldn't be a big deal, so I'm okay with that. These people are a 'live and let' sort, and we're there to play games.
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