On Being Out Versus Living Out Loud
Because they aren’t the same.
This is my girlfriend A- and I playing in a photo booth at a wedding.
What do you see?
If you see two people who love each other, then well done. You see what I see.
If you see two women in love with each other, then well done. You see what most people see.
If you see an interracial couple in love with each other, then well done. You also see what most people see.
A- and I aren’t just out. We’re out loud and that’s why these different views matter. What is the difference?
Being out is the act of being openly gay. It is refusing to pretend to be straight. Instead of calling A- my “roommate” I openly refer to her as my girlfriend. We refuse to play the pronoun game. When people talk about their significant others we talk about ours too. We don’t hide. We don’t pretend.
Being out loud is taking that behavior to the next level. It is refusing to accept those tiny offers of privilege that happen every day, “Oh A-, your friend?”
It’s wearing the pride bracelet. It’s sometimes rocking the rainbow and sometimes rocking the high heels, makeup, fierceness at the same time. It’s breaking old stereotypes and making new ones that benefit the whole LGBTQ community. It’s taking the risk so that other, often young and less secure gays, don’t have to. It’s calling out the gay jokes as personally offensive every goddamn time. It’s standing up and saying something even when whatever bullshit comment isn’t aimed at us. It’s speaking when social convention allows us or even urges us to stay quiet. It’s taking the hit publicly, so the next person in line doesn’t have to, or at least takes a somewhat softer hit. Generally these hits are metaphorical. It’s not just standing up for ourselves. It’s standing up for everyone.
But we’re also an interracial couple and you know what? That’s not something we often think about. One fight is so active and so constant that the other fight gets pushed to the background. I mean sometimes we can’t help but notice, like when she’s the only Caucasian in a room or when the Obama for America office sent us to the blackest neighborhood in our town to canvass on election day. I kind of become her black card. I’m her passport into spaces that are otherwise considered safe for People of Color and largely devoid of Caucasians. She’s with me so she at least gets the opportunity to prove that she’s not trying to shove her way in and throw her privilege all over the place and while she participates she doesn’t appropriate culture.
So we’re out and out loud as gay but not so out loud as biracial, just out. That’s weird isn’t it? I mean its a little bit weird that we’re so conscious and kinda militant about one thing but so much less so about the other. Part of that is generational, in that the LGBTQ community is currently waging battles that the PoC community ostensibly won in the 1960s. Part of it is also the fact that people feel significantly more comfortable stepping to us on the LGBTQ issue than they do on the race issue. In fact, I can’t ever recall having anyone say anything to me about the fact that we are interracial, but wow do people feel the need to tell me that they don’t have a problem with the fact that we are gay. Nope, there is no problem there! The are totally comfortable. They don’t even think about it. It’s cool with them. Which, of course, means that they can’t stop thinking about it and it’s probably not all that cool with them because nobody says anything about the fact that we are of different races. If they were actually cool with it they would shut the hell up.
As prevalent as racism is here, I can’t help but wonder if the homophobia is so strong that it counters the naturally racist reaction or if people really are over that shit.
I’m guessing the first one.