This post is a bit more involved than usual for my Throwback Thursday, and was inspired by a wonderful book. Ken O’Neill’s The Marrying Kind is an awesome book I just last week finished listening to (I had the audiobook) and it’s brilliant and funny and you should buy it. That link is to a bigger review of said book. In said book, there is a scene where a gay fellow sees his brother and his brother’s girlfriend in a public place. They’re holding hands and she’s resting her head on his shoulder. O’Neill describes perfectly what it’s like to see that sort of casual, thoughtless, wonderful declaration of love when you yourself can’t have that same moment in his book, and it reminded me of this moment in my own life. Ken’s book is damned funny, and – again – you should read it. And this moment, when it happened to me, was funny, too.
This post rescued from Livejournal, dated March 28th, 2012:
Earlier this week, I had a customer shut me down at work when I suggested a Diana Gabaldon book because – her words – of “the inclusion of a sodomite.” Ever since the death of Jamie Hubley, I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t side-step, so I asked her if she’d like me to find a clerk who wasn’t gay to finish the conversation. The interaction ended and she left. These random homophobic moments are always so unexpected that they jar me, and it took me a little bit to get back on track. I moved on with my day, chalking it up to one more moment where someone assumes I’m a part of their bigot club.
Jokingly, the next day on Twitter I mentioned how I hoped I’d bump into someone randomly being supportive or queer positive, to balance things out. Y’know, randomly seeing two dads with their little kid playing catch or something. Anything, really. I walked to the grocery store and picked up ingredients for a casserole (this, for the record, was number two on the Smith Gay Agenda for the day, just above destroying the sanctity of marriage and just below playing WallaBee on my iPad). When I came home, I noted that nothing gay positive had indeed leapt out for me, but I had high hopes for something to happen in the comfort of my own home later.
What I meant, tongue in cheek, was that my husband would come home and I’d kiss him, or something as simple as that, and it did indeed happen.
Then the doorbell rang.
I answered it, and two women smiled and introduced themselves. I smiled back, and said hello. The first woman invited me to join a street celebration with them “on the actual day of Jesus’s death.”
“No thank you. My husband and I aren’t generally welcome at that brand of religious event,” I said. I was calm. I didn’t raise my voice.
Both women looked like they’d just accidentally swallowed liquid dog excrement. Twice. They left, I closed my door, and for a little while, I was upbeat about it. I asked my husband in the office if he’d seen their faces, but he hadn’t. I was proud of myself for being upfront, but not overly adversarial. I even laughed about it.
And then it started to sink in.
This is our home. I haven’t had a real sense of home before this one – I used to smile and try to be polite when people talked about how much they loved their homes. I moved too much to “get it” but this house I share with my husband is our home. We get to be ourselves here. We get to kiss. We get to hold hands. We get to lean on each other, and tickle each other, and be silly and be loving and be and do any damn thing we want.
You know what we shouldn’t have to be? Interrupted by someone going door to door with a reminder that we’re pretty much dog shit to be swallowed.
It took me a while to realize why I was at first amused and proud, and then unsettled, and then outright angry, and that was it: they came to my house and dropped some bigotry at my door. I don’t get to be like most husbands in my day to day life – by “most” here, I mean straight. I don’t get to hold my spouse’s hand wherever we go. I don’t get to kiss him wherever I want. I don’t get to be who I am without thinking about it. We have to stop and think about it. Every. Single. Time. We have to scan our surroundings. Will that peck on the cheek start someone ranting at us? Is someone going to beat us for a simple gesture of love? Every time, every day, every touch: are we safe?
Our home is where we are always supposed to feel safe and not have to think about it. And those women strolled up, knocked, and reminded me that it isn’t.
Most of the time, I shrug this shit off. But there are times it’s exhausting. This week was like that. I know – I absolutely know – that I’m surrounded by wonderful, open-minded, accepting and tolerant people.
The other kind can get the fuck off my lawn.