Miss Manners gets a question from a gay guy who's already trying too hard:
I am a 26-year-old man living near my family, with whom I have very close relationships. This often brings me into contact with their friends, many of whom I have never met or are acquaintances at best.
What is a polite way for me, as an openly gay man, to address their questions about girlfriends or girls I'm dating?
I've been "out of the closet" for years and feel it is appropriate to be known for who I am. I've been accused of "pushing an agenda," which annoys me, because I've never proceeded with these people to divisive topics like gay equality. I've also never told children (of friends, cousins, etc.) of my sexuality when asked similar questions.
It is important to me that I live an honest and open life. But I feel at times that people interpret my honesty as unnecessary and intentionally inappropriate.
He keeps his identity away from kids? Never brings up politics? Has an apologetic attitude about the whole thing? I'm guessing everyone sees him as a doormat. That's the problem with trying to change yourself to make others comfortable - it'll never be enough.
Miss Manners's answer after the jump. What would you say to this guy?
Gentle Reader: People you hardly know are asking about your love life and then accusing you of being pushy if you respond? Miss Manners sees this as yet another reason, among many, not to attempt to satisfy busybodies. It is amazing how many people think that a charming conversation opener with the younger generation is "So, are you seeing anyone?" or the ever-popular "Why aren't you married?"
Miss Manners would hardly blame you for giving matter-of-fact answers ("Yes, I have a boyfriend" or "I haven't met the right man") followed by "But enough about me -- tell me about yourself."
Should there be shock, complaints or further questions, your response should be, "But didn't you just ask me?" followed by the all-important change of subject.
Obviously she's correct (because she's Miss Manners), but I was hoping she'd go further and tell this guy he doesn't have to hide who he is from kids. Children are bombarded with images of sexy heterosexual sex (like those two nearly-naked straight lovers in Aladdin) and their brains aren't warped in any ways people really care about.
And the kids don't care about gays either, and that's what makes people uncomfortable - it's harder to teach them to hate something that they're already familiar with.