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“gonna wash me clean”

December 15, 2008

My work holiday party was Friday. I don’t generally discuss work here, but for this to make sense, my work holiday party is not an employees-and-spouses shindig. It is a much broader thing than that. It included a little how the past year went report, in which there were lots of introductions, and explanations of folks’ connection with my work. These included a friend/acquaintance introducing himself, from some organization, and me, because i’m closely involved in that org with him. Cool. Except his introduction was “this is Brett Ashley, and that’s her girlfriend, Jamie.”

Now, personally, not that big of a deal. It’s a gay organization, and i’m on the board – so i can pretty well count myself publicly out.

But it really pisses me off in an ideological sort of way. Most simply, i just don’t think it’s ever proper to out anyone but your own damn self.

One, this is my job. Yes, i do work for a progressive place. But i also work in a state where it isn’t illegal to fire me ’cause you don’t like the way i look (or how gay i am). To be clear, my job wasn’t on the line – he knows my boss, and knows my boss knows i’m gay. I’m not sure if all my coworkers knew (i mean, surely, but you never know). He certainly couldn’t have known. I absolutely do have coworkers who are way uncomfortable with gayness, though they are personally polite and politically progressive about it.

Two, this is a room full of people who are strangers to him, who i have to work with in some capacity or another. The majority of whom think homosexuality is a sin. I don’t honestly think there will be any fallout from it, but it might have been worth a bit of consideration.

It’s just so fucking naive, is what really drives me crazy. Like the fact that he knows i’m gay and i’m not actively trying to hide it from anybody must mean i think it is important or acceptable to announce to every person i meet. It just exemplifies what i can’t stand about gay activism – it’s so self-centered. There is a complete lack of analysis as to what the possible effects could be on other things, as if, as long as everything is gay enough, nothing else matters.

I simply don’t hold to that. I’m not closeted (Granny excepted), but i am not really out and proud. Just out. I’ve never lied about it, and i don’t hide it (i’ve already mentioned how much i love PDA). But there are places where anyone’s sexuality is inappropriate, and more importantly, there are many, many situations in which it doesn’t take priority.

I can see where he would think i wouldn’t mind – though i disagree – but i know for a fact he doesn’t know Jamie well enough to reasonably make the assumptions about her that he made about me. Which just makes it that much more naive. Plus it just makes me a little protective. Though she didn’t mind, other than in the kind of ideological way i just ranted about.

Lady Brett
“Holy Water” – Lori McKenna

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 19, 2008 5:40 pm

    I completely agree that in a world which is heteronormative and punishes those who are not, those of us who are sexual minorities need to be in charge of who and when and if we come out.

    It’s hard to comment hear not having a full picture of the context, because that’s really everything. But if the majority of those in the room think its a sin to be queer that’s a seriously conservative crowd.

    Hmm.. can you out someone who’s already out? Of course the answer is yes but it does bring up a difficult problem. I don’t know this guy or his politics but I do think it’s possible that his introduction was merely polite and not intended to be some big activisty “we’re out and proud” moment.

    I mention this because many years ago it used to be painful for me when straight people in Van’s circle who knew of our relationship would introduce us as, “Van and her friend Sublime” or some such shit. So how would you have felt if he did that, or if he didn’t indicate that you had any relationship to each other at all, e.g. “Meet Brett Ashley and Jamie X”?

    This does bring up a very interesting etiquette problem (what would Miss Manners say?)–one with political and philosophical implications, too. Anyway, I’m sorry you were pissed–lord knows these holiday parties are painful enough without added drama!


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