05 February 2015

Passing as straight

December 2014
Earlier in my relationship with Bo, we went to get breakfast at a cute little diner one Sunday. It was next to a non-denominational Christian church, and it was clear from the atmosphere that it was a regular stop for many of the church folks. That being said, there was no indication that the restaurant should have been considered a "Christian" restaurant. Throughout our meal, we made an important discovery.

Our waitress was not actually waiting on us.

It started out as a normal meal, for the most part.* She took our order, not making eye contact with either of us. She seemed rushed and as though she was flustered. We decided at the time that it was probably due to the large number of customers that were there at the time, and she seemed to be one of only a couple of servers in the restaurant that morning. She was just busy, right?

However, as the meal progressed, we noticed other things. It took a long time to get our meal. Despite the fact that she was buzzing around to other tables checking on customers, she never once checked on us to see if we needed anything (including refills on our drinks). When we were finished eating, the manager cleared our table and dealt with our check. We could clearly see that the waitress was still on her shift, but the manager had taken over our table by that point.

It was weird.

Afterward, Bo and I discussed it, and we came to the uneasy conclusion that the waitress was not comfortable waiting on us because of our relationship.

Yes, we were in a relationship, but she had no way of knowing that. We weren't holding hands or making out over our breakfasts. We could have just as easily been two friends or cousins or sisters who went out to breakfast together.

She assumed our relationship, then changed her behavior toward us based on that assumption.

During the course of the discussion about it, Bo indicated that it was probably an assumption that came from Bo's appearance more than the dynamic of the two of us together. Bo has short hair and wears clothes that some consider masculine. She told me that when people give us sideways glances, trying to determine if we're together, it's most likely that they're looking at her.

She said, "You pass as straight."

I suppose she's right. I typically keep my hair a bit longer (chin length, at least), and wear clothing that is generally identifiable as feminine. I'm not a "girly girl," but definitely on the feminine side of the spectrum.**

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I suppose it's beneficial to be able to "pass" as straight in general society. I don't get stares when I'm in public, and there's little awkwardness from people who are uncomfortable around the queer community.

On the other hand, I am not ashamed of who I am, so I don't feel the need to hide any part of that. There is part of me that wants people to look at me and identify me as a lesbian because that's how I identify myself. I don't try to hide that part of me because I feel no need to.

Of course, in an ideal world, it wouldn't matter. People would mind their own business instead of judging others based on who they love and with whom they share their beds.

I mean, if people spent half as much time advocating for the marginalized in society as they do shaking their fists at The Gays, our society would be a whole helluva lot better. But that's a post for another day.

*In looking at the experience in retrospect, it's clear now that there were more indications of the waitress's feelings about us than we noticed at the time. As this post is retrospective, it will address those indications.

**Because gender is a spectrum, not binary. That's just how it works.

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