I was talking to a woman at a bus stop today – she noticed my ring on my left hand and asked if my husband was going to school, too. I replied that the ring was actually from my girlfriend, who was looking for work in the area. The well-meaning, sincere woman’s response was, “Have you met other gay people here?”
I knew what she was *hoping* to convey — she was hoping to indicate that she was tolerant, gay-friendly, open. I even accept that. But for the first time, it struck me what such a question really means. It really means, “Oh, you are an Other. Have you met the other Others?”
All sorts of understanding hit me. It’s a form of lumping. Anyone in a minority gets this everyday… heck, I’ve gotten this same question plenty of other times, but it didn’t hit me till today that this question carries a lot of assumptions with it. It assumes that my primary identity is “gay”… that I primarily find things in common with other “gay” people… and most importantly I think, it assumes that all gay people are the same and get along like one big happy family.
I guess if my friends reflect my primary identity, I am mainly a book lover. But when I talk about books with people at bus stops, no one ever asks, “Have you met other readers?” Because that includes everyone, doesn’t it? That’s not an Other.