Alex Blaze

You push or get pushed in this world, there's no middle ground

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 09, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

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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.


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Agreed and Agreed!

It is such an awkward question to ask someone you don't know, unless of course you are coming on to them. If you are interested in dating someone, I think it's a plausible question in early conversation, but even then there should be some flirting involved before it so it would not seem out of place.

I also agree with Alex because there simply is no reason to hide who you are, even from the chilrens. And if someone is nosy enough to ask about my love life when first meeting me, then they better be prepared for the answer.

I dunno, Alex: as a stop-right-now statement, it's pretty much the perfect response. LOL

A. J. Lopp | July 9, 2010 4:40 PM

I think something even more curt could be totally appropriate, such as truthfully saying "No I'm not dating any young women right now" followed by the suggested change of subject.

I'd also want to reserve territory by saying there is no duty to come out in such an instance --- especially if it is going to cause an annoying family hassle. Educating people and giving them ammunition to gossip about you are two different things, and it depends upon the person(s) and how well you know them, and what you know about them and their attitudes.

Paige Listerud | July 9, 2010 5:24 PM

A far more perfect, pre-emptive move would be to bring a gentleman that you are dating to these family events. When anyone asks who you are seeing right now, point them to your handsome lad and tell them, "He and I just began dating a few weeks ago," or "My boyfriend is right over there."

How about pre-emptively introducing your date to the whole family gang at the beginning of the get-together. Simply tap your glass to get everyone's attention and speak up loudly, "Everyone . . . everyone, I want you to meet _______. We met in the wine aisle at Trader Joes and haven't stopped dating since."

Except in the rudest of families, homophobia can often be pre-empted by a bold declaration of who you are and who you have brought to the party.

I like her answers but i would add that he should put his big boy pants on and show little more courage about being himself.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 10, 2010 11:38 PM

Well, I rather solved this by bringing my partner with me to all family events since Christmas 1976. The young man should show up with his date or just a Gay friend. I took my partner to Warsaw Indiana and I and he were everywhere together with his family in metro Chicago.

The responsibility also falls to the fellows parents to advise their guests of their loved sons "special life" and topics to avoid. He does need to have a frank discussion with them to express his discomfort. The parents need to "come out" too.