As if flying weren't bad enough nowadays, it seems that cluelessness is on the rise in the skies.
As most of you know, I spent yesterday flying to Denver for the Creating Change conference. As if going from 78 degree weather in Florida to 19 degrees in the Mile High City wasn't enough to put me on edge, I had a minor run-in with some, shall we say, uninformed people on the plane who assumed that I was involved in a salacious gay scandal...
It all started innocently enough.
I was wearing a rather geeky/sweet shirt that my husband had made for me at Christmas. The shirt comes from a silly joke I told him one night to make him giggle:
You can call me Mush, I'll call you Room...
And together we're two fun guys!
Get it? Mush-Room... Two fungi/fun guys... Hilarious, right? Don't judge. It'll hit you later how brilliant the joke is.
Well, my shirt had two little mushrooms on the front with "Two Fun Guys" over it and on the back it had "Mush." (Yes, Anthony's says "room").
When I was coming out of the bathroom, the flight attendants stopped me and asked what my shirt meant. I explained that it was a silly little inside joke that my husband and I had with each other. We struck up a conversation (being a former flight attendant, I often chat with the crews and share stories), which lead them to ask why I was going out to Denver.
I told them about Creating Change and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. They seemed cool with and rather interested. They then asked why "Room" (as they had taken to calling my hubby) wasn't with me. I explained that since he is in the middle of running for office with his election day rapidly approaching, he needed to stay home and campaign. Then the comment that made me stop in my tracks:
Oooo! Did we just get clued in to another political scandal?
I simply stood there with my mouth open and looked at the attendant. I asked what she meant.
He's not out, is he? This is so tabloid!
I replied calmly that he was very out. Anthony and I had been married for years and are well known for our activism and LGBT rights work in South Florida. She looked a bit shocked and said:
Well I guess times are changing...
I went back to my seat a bit angry. Why does a politician being out have to be a "scandal" or "tabloid"? It just made me realize that the first thing people think of when they think gay politician is scandal.
It is a hard reaction to overcome. We have always lived our life openly and campaigned very openly. Anthony's campaign website has pictures of us and our foster son. His work in the LGBT community is listed proudly, as is our marriage, just like any other political campaign.
Yet some people's reaction will always be that it is something weird or dirty or outrageous.
Let's hope that we really do start creating some change in the way people view our lives and families. Maybe by being so open and accessible about our lives, we are doing just a little bit to change that reaction...
Even if it is one flight attendant at a time.