Sometimes it feels like the proverbial closet one ‘comes out’ of actually has a revolving door. Leading to Narnia.
Having children has been the best thing that I could ever have done with my life. But never in a million years could I have imagined the way that being part of a same sex family could permeate my life. I guess that is part of my motivation for sharing some of my experiences.
It’s been a long road to get here, thankfully one that has become easier the more time passes. While as I have said previously I can’t recall ever experiencing any full blown discrimination, I have experienced countless moments of conversational awkwardness.
It’s not harmful, I acknowledge that, but no one likes feeling awkward.
And it gets so tiresome having to constantly explain yourself.
Considerations have to be made every time before mentioning my same sex relationship status. I’m guilty of taking the easy route at times, when dealing with people I don’t know, or chance encounters, simply because I hate making well-meaning folk feel awkward or like they have ‘said the wrong thing’ when they mention my ‘husband’.
I loathe the raised eyebrows or embarrassed look I get when I stop and correct them. It’s just so awkward.
It doesn’t help that I dress in such a ‘mainstream’ manner, as people really don’t expect it from me. In my role as a teacher I avoid like the plague all conversations and personal pronouns about my partner. I have developed a remarkable knack for being able to deflect and quickly change the subject.
The ‘coming out’ experience truly NEVER ends.
Every new teacher your kids have at school each year, every new job, every new hobby or interest involves meeting new people, which inevitably always ends up back at that same dreaded ‘coming out’ conversation.
‘Oh no, I don’t have a husband, my partner is a female’.
‘But you have children! Were you married before?’
Insert awkward silence here.
And then I wait for a reaction. Most times, I can tell within seconds whether or not someone is ‘OK’ with it. Nine times out of ten they recover well.
But it’s rare that the conversation just flows easily after this. We generally have to wear people down, like a pair of new shoes that need breaking in. It’s strange and unusual and people take a while to wrap their heads around it.
What was frightening about the same sex plebiscite was exactly how many people out there still don’t like the idea of same sex couples marrying. In our comfortable, protected circles of family, friends, team mates and work colleagues we get lured into a false sense of security that most people know us and understand. The plebiscite was a blaring horn shattering our blissful illusion.
Yes we won alright, but it wasn’t a landslide.
Yes times are changing and yes we are moving forward.
But it is a slow process, and ours is a road that is always going to be less travelled, and therefore less understood.
I look forward to the day where finally I can slam that closet door shut, knowing I’ll never again need to retreat to Narnia.