Thursday, December 4, 2008


So I got an interesting wake-up call the other day. My Ferret and I have been apartment-hunting for the last few weeks or so and we finally found one we liked. The landlord was a friendly, good-natured guy and we were in the process of signing the lease, when he checked her work reference and came out of the other room with a... well, a look on his face. My Ferret is quite butch and she gets mistaken for a dude all the time. Our landlord-to-be had made the same assumption and finally figured it out, and he was- I think the word is flummoxed. 

We'd already made it quite clear that we were a couple, and he was having trouble reconciling the nice, normal couple he thought we were with the people his church and political views say are Bad. I could almost see his thoughts swirling.
He was nice about it- just said some things about being surprised, stammered a bit, made reference to he and his wife being all Christian and Republican. I told him so are most of my clients, as well as Ferret's family, and asked him, straight-up, if this was going to be a problem. 
He said it wasn't a problem, for him, personally. I'm not sure what that meant, and I'm still a little wary.
I'm pretty sure it's federally illegal to deny someone housing on the basis of sexual orientation (can someone tell me if I'm right about that?), but hell, I'm not going to live where I'm not wanted. I had a file full of other options in my computer.
The thing is- his surprise surprised me.  I generally treat being gay as no big deal, and assume others will too. This is partially because to do anything else would be to admit to the Othering that society wants to do to me, and partially because that's how I've always done it: where I come from it IS no big deal. In SoFlo, there were pockets of rightwingers and fundies, but mostly it's considered declasse' to raise a ruckus if someone mentions that they're gay.
Apparently, not so much the rule here in the MidWest. I have the feeling most of the people in this town have never met a gay couple, much less seen them interact like any other couple does. I know there are indeed gay folks here, but I haven't seen many, and I'm told they're "very discreet", which I think is straight-speak for "they know their place and don't make us nervous by being open or acting like actual couples".

Ferret- well, if people don't assume she's a dude, they kinda just jump to "dyke", which saves a lot of dancing around. She's as open as I am, with the "if they don't like it, fuck 'em" mentality. It's pretty rare that anyone tries to mess with her anyway.  

 I know I have white privilege, able privilege, and passing-for-straight privilege. This is the first time I'd realized: I had "location privilege". Just someone being taken aback by us, much less maybe-resistant to us renting from him, shook me. What must it be like for so many other gays, trapped in the heart of the Bible Belt, or ultrareligioconservative towns or families? Without support or a place to be open about themselves? What must it be like to hide who you are, all the time?

I chose not to hide. I'm proud of who I am and playing the Pronoun Game gives me a headache anyway. But I didn't realize how easy life made it for me to choose, how lucky I was to have that choice at all. It all makes me very uncomfortable, and sometimes it makes me wish I was back in South Florida.