This is my first blog and it’s about something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Excuse the freewriting style!
I am mostly femme in appearance and easily pass as straight in public. Unlike my stud girlfriend, I coast through the day under the radar. I love being in public with her because our presence together “outs” me. When I am not by her side I’m frequently confronted, mostly at work, with whether I want to “out” myself. Now, my coworkers all know that I am queer. However, I work in the healthcare field and see new patients daily. Most of these people I will only see once for a few hours, maybe twice. We are told, as employees, to keep conversation light. Don’t engage the patient in talks of politics, religion, or sex. Understandable, although not always easy to avoid with some people. Safe conversations are those about family, work, hobbies, etc. Inevitably in these conversations I am frequently asked about my husband or boyfriend. In the past, I have kept pronouns neutral and tried to keep the conversation off me. Occasionally, I have rolled with the assumption that I have a “boyfriend” to avoid an uncomfortable moment. Lately I have been thinking about my choice to remain comfortable. On one hand I have an opportunity to challenge the mainstream assumptions. Without a big conversation I could correct that I have a girlfriend or say that I am not married because the state of Georgia does not recognize my partnership. In some ways I feel responsible for letting people know that their mainstream assumptions about people should be checked and that we do exist as healthcare providers and as normal people helping them with their daily lives. We do not always “look gay” or “act gay.” You pass us everyday without a thought, because we blend. Would it make a positive difference if I “outed” myself? I’m tired of being dishonest in an otherwise honest moment of connection with another human. On the other hand, it will not be as easy as simply “outing” myself and moving on. It will turn into a conversation, a 20 questions, an uncomfortable moment, a long drawn out focus on me, possibly a complaint to my supervisor. I work alone, at night, in suburban, sometimes rural places. Would I be putting myself at risk for hate crimes? I work in sleep diagnostics. My patients are in pajamas, I am watching them sleep, I am often the only one they interact with. I have to put probes under their breasts and on their bodies. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or scared despite of their own ignorance. I don’t want to take the focus off of why they are here and my ability to help them. I am so torn because I also feel the responsibility to desensitize people of their own fears. If I begun doing this how would my supervisors react to the possible complaints from patients. Would patients request to “not have the lesbian” next time they come. All these questions have been running through my mind. I don’t have the answers but I’m contemplating my moves….