I'm all about being out. I'm out to friends, family and I'm out at work. But sometimes it sucks. Today was one of those days.
The thing is, I can deal with people being homophobic. I face it every now and then. I've dealt with my mom who had to grow to accept me as a lesbian and several other people whom I know would rather not hear me speak openly about my sexual orientation. But those people I can respond to openly and honestly and I'm allowed to get really pissed off and tell them to go fuck themselves if that mood strikes me. It's whole different deal with clients.
I'm a social worker and today one of my clients called, asking to speak to a colleague of mine. She wasn't sure who she was talking to when I answered the phone and so she asked if I was the pretty one who liked women. I thought that was hilarious and said "yup, sure, that's me" before handing over the phone to my colleague.
So obviously, I'm out to my clients. I don't introduce myself as the lesbian social worker but I speak honestly about my life, just as honestly as my heterosexual co-workers do. And just like they talk about their husbands and boyfriends and exes, I speak about my girlfriends and exes. If someone asks me if I have a boyfriend I neutrally reply that "no, I don't, but then that's not my gender preference". I'm usually met by curiousity and/or stories about lesbian friends or romances (and once an offer to be set up on a blind date, which I kindly turned down!). Some of my clients are gay and I've never been met by negative comments.
Now this particular woman never made any negative comments when the subject came up at one of our group gatherings. Today was a different story though. She called back shortly after having hung up with my colleague and I, again, picked up the phone. She laughingly said "hello beautiful woman who likes other women!" and I laughingly replied hello. Then she started asking me why I was gay, since I was so beautiful. She said she didn't mean to be rude, but she never knew gay women could be beautiful and she was sure I could find a man if I wanted to. She even had a suggestion, "a guy my age who would make a very good boyfriend for me". I politely responded that "that's not for me and that I'm perfectly happy as is". She would not let up though. She kept saying that I shouldn't be gay and that I'm going to miss out and how I can't have babies with a woman and "have you ever been with a guy? Did it not work?", at which point I felt things were getting way to personal and said in a firm voice: "Really, I'm very happy with who I am." To which she only kept spouting more personal questions, mixed in with appologies about being so plump, and asking me about my heritage and what my parents think about me being gay. At that point I just ended the conversation, thanked her for calling and told her I'd see her for her appointment later this week.
I know this middle aged woman is just very lonely and wanted to talk to someone. I also know she probably barely knows any gay people other than myself. But what really pissed me off about the situation was how she felt the right to tell me how to live my life and how I felt so prohibited by my professional role to do what I would have done if someone else had said something similar to me: To very strictly inform that person that judgements about my sexual orientation are best left to themselves and that, frankly, I don't want to hear that shit. That's pretty much what I felt like saying today anyway...