Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Education of Straight People: Part I

The other day The Ex stopped by my office to pick something up. For some of my co-workers this was the first time they met her and one male co-worker in particular (let's call him Mr. Tall) greeted her with a curious gaze and a "So you're the famous Ex". Another co-worker referred to her as my wife and I laughed and said "Yup, that's my wife".
After The Ex left Mr. Tall got this confused look on his face and asked about this whole wife thing. I misunderstood what he was aiming at and told him that "No, we're not actually married or anything, it's just an ongoing joke we've got about being like a married couple". He shook his head and said "No, no, I know you're not really married. But... is that terminology that gay people use? Wife?" My other co-worker intercepted with a "Duh, Mr. Tall, obviously! Gay people who are married use the same terminology as straight people." Mr. Tall responded: "Okay... But if she's your wife, than what are you to her?".
At which point my other co-worker and I looked at each other and just burst out laughing, since it finally hit us what he was angling at. It took us quite a while to gather ourselves enough to reply that obviously I am The Ex's wife as well, not her husband or anything else. And then we made fun of him for the rest of the day for being LGBT-illiterate.
Mr. Tall definitely owns up to being completely lost when it comes to gay stuff and is one of the people I have around me that I've had many many conversations with about these things. He's always respectful in this curiousity and tells me he's just never really had gay friends or acquaintances before that he could ask about these things. And I'm happy to participate in his LGBT-education, though I am careful to explain that I can only really speak from my own experiences and that I do not in any way speak for all gay people.
But I don't always feel like educating heteros on the lives of lesbians... Regardless, I figured I'd return from time to time with stories on silly, funny, ignorant, and down-right insulting Q & A:s I've had with straight people.