I am almost 50 years old, have 4 wonderful children, a successful career, a long-term relationship and a great friendship with my mother. Why then, when asked by someone I normally don’t work with what my husband does for a living, do I answer without correcting that my wife is a family practitioner. Some might say it is easier or takes less time not to correct people, but I have to ask myself if that is really the reason. Is it just more comfortable for me to assume the heterosexual norm and not rock the boat? I don’t need to be an activist every day or make a statement the way I did in my 20’s, but is my foot stuck in the closet door?
I came out at 19 years old after my older sister did so three years before. I was so in love and the way was paved, so what could go wrong? Turns out my parents weren’t as thrilled as I thought they might be. Certainly accepting and loving, but they made it clear that my life wouldn’t be as easy as it could be and there was disappointment not clearly stated at the time.
I was exceedingly lucky to be living on the east coast and be surrounded by tolerance during my education. I certainly went through the short hair and boots phase when I marched in the pride parade and held hands with my girlfriends on the street just to be out there, loud and proud. That being said, most of my life I have been able to blend. I have had short hair and long hair, painted my toenails and enjoyed feminine things as well as sports. My children do not hesitate in saying they have two moms, yet I have had the luxury to have people get to know me before they learn of my sexuality.
My feeling has always been that the best way to gain equality is to let people know that we aren’t so different. We are partners and parents, teachers and students, neighbors and friends. Easy for me to say, I am not pink the way that African Americans are black. I can let people know of my differences on my own terms. So, am I doing anything to further the cause? My answer is that I could probably do more. I am not getting a rainbow tattoo any time soon, but I will pull my foot out of the closet and answer that my wife is in family practice the next time someone asks. It might not be heroic, but moving myself out of my comfort zone may move someone a little closer to tolerance and acceptance.