Monday, June 9, 2008

How To React

I was watching Logo (gay and lesbian television network) earlier today and there was a program on about gay and lesbian people and the problems they face at work. The part that really caught my attention was a segment about a beautician coming out to her boss who is also her best friend. I noticed how hurt the lesbian woman was when her best friend reacted negatively and tried to anoint her with holy oil. Her friend assured her that her job wasn’t in danger but that public intimacy was prohibited. It must be said that her friend did later come to terms with her homosexuality but still lingered with a level of homophobia. As I was watching this segment the question that hit me was, what’s an appropriate reaction when coming out? It is OK for to have an “I don’t care what the hell you think” type attitude with people or does it matter who the person is? Is it necessary to “respect” the feelings of the person I’m telling? When I began coming out to people I was never really afraid of what they thought of me, I was more afraid of what I would think of them if they had a negative reaction to my coming out. As I watched this program I really wanted the lesbian woman to just say, “hey this is my life, you can be my friend or kick rocks.” That’s essentially what I said to most of the people I came out to. I guess it comes a time in ones life where you have to be yourself and people have to accept you as you are. It’s not like the woman was confessing about a past drug addiction, I don’t know maybe it’s me but for whatever reason, I got really annoyed.

Seek Peace


Anonymous said...

This is good article, thank you.

Karen said...

It's interesting that you list a past drug addiction at the bottom of your piece. I think that if it's a *past* addiction, then it shouldn't really affect a current relationship anyway (unless it's perhaps added respect for having overcome the addiction).

As far as how people react, I think that you're right about others having to accept you for who you are, particularly if you've never discussed sexuality before and the other person just assumed you were straight (versus if you lied about your sexuality, in which case, the other person could be legitimately offended about having been lied to).

It reminds me of the basic conflict in the film School Ties, in which a Jewish kid is treated differently after people find out that he's Jewish.

My thought is that if a person is a nice person, then finding out these additional things about ethnicity or sexual orientation or social origin really shouldn't matter.

My strategy, when I choose to share my bisexual leanings, is to just act as if the other person always knew. I don't make a production of it, and usually just use the phrase "oh, you didn't know that?" somewhere in the conversation. This might not quite be honest, if I know that I hadn't told that person, but I think that it relieves tension from the situation, because it doesn't set it up as a conflict. If I can treat it casually, it's generally easier for others to do so as well.

*Jamie* said...

They way I was taught, anointing with holy oil with prayer gives strength to continue to overcome something like drug addiction –which my mom did in church all the time-. I could understand anointing with holy oil if this was the case.

Your strategy might work when coming out to someone you just met but not a longtime friend or a family member. As far as someone being upset cause they were lied to my feelings on that is if you’re a good friend or relative you should understand why someone might want to or be forced to lie about their sexuality.

Karen said...

Actually, I've used the same strategy successfully on a couple of friends, who I'd known for a couple of years previous.