Do I have to be normaler than normal?


Ragen Chastain, of Dances with Fat blog fame, was on a conference call last night when she was asked the questions: “when you dance, do you feel you have to be better than others to overcome stereotypes?”

Her answer was phenomenal and it got me thinking about my own lesbian relationship.

Do I feel that my relationship has to be “more normal” than straight relationships to overcome any stereotypes?

The answer, for me at least, is no.

I do what I do and if I happen to challenge your stereotype of what a lesbian, or a lesbian relationship, or a lesbian in a relationship looks like, then so much the better.

In her blog post, Ragen said:

When a fat person chooses to do something, and that thing happens to challenge someone else’s stereotypes of people of our size, we are not asking for their approval, we are doing them a favor.

I think it works that way for me as well. When you meet me and I introduce Marianne as my significant other, and the world doesn’t end, or God doesn’t smite me, or you don’t spontaneously combust, you just might learn something.

Like the fact that Marianne and I are a lot like you.

And that our Saturday nights mostly consist of bad Lifetime movies on the couch. And M&Ms. And soda.

I am open about who I am at work. And I really do believe that there are some coworkers who had never met a lesbian before. I have no idea what they think of me personally nor do I really care all that much.

But it was cool when a coworker I was (unintentionally) outed to on my first day of work in June who then spent 10 minutes talking about his upcoming vacation/mission trip to some South American country asked me the other day about my upcoming wedding.

If I decide to invite coworkers to the wedding, I don’t think he’ll come. But I’m okay with that. Because I think, just by being exactly who I am (that is to say, exactly normal and boring just like everyone else), he may very well rethink his conception of a “lesbian relationship” or lesbians in general.

Back to Ragen’s point. It is not up to me as the “other” to continually challenge people’s perceptions of that other.

But it is neat when it (unintentionally) happens.


7 responses »

  1. it is exactly how you said. Just be yourself! Be boring, be awesome, be funny, be exciting, just be. When people meet you, they by default assume that you are straight. They get to know you, they like you and then they find out that you are gay and then they learn that you are like them – same boring life, same boring choices, same relationships, same problems.

    My boys at work are excited to have a lesbian as they can make remarks about women and know that I would understand. They are happy that they can come to me and ask me questions about women without being judged.

    I am not one of those obvious lesbians (i would disagree but the history tells me otherwise) and people think that I am straight till they learn the truth. And honestly, they have to think and realize that I am who I am straight or lesbian and I am a good person, I make them laugh, I listen, I empathize, I care and I am not as scary and perverted as they thought lesbians were.

    Things and perception changes just because I am me and I am as everyone else – I love, I cry, I feel, I breath…

  2. I would also disagree that you are not an obvious lesbian, but then it may just be my gaydar haha. Anyhow, thanks for the comment. You are so right about the default being straight and sometimes, in certain circumstances, it’s nice to be able to use that as a cover. I just don’t want it to ever become a crutch.

    Nice to meet you, thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. Hey! Love this post! I do sometimes wonder though about the whole “We’re as normal as you” mantra. I hope you get that I am just wanting to add to the conversation here! Because what if someone isn’t normal? What if say, a butch lesbian is tattooed all over, pierced, rocks some funky hair, participates in an open, but monogamous relationship, enjoys herself some S&M or whatever else “abnormal” things one can think of — she, too should be given all the rights as any “normal” couple. I just worry sometimes about the whole “we’re normal, too” and that it means “and therefore — because of our normalcy — we should have the same rights as you.” What about people who aren’t the same as everyone else? I don’t know the answer, I just worry. I have good friends in very atypical relationships who can’t say they are “just like you” to most of us. What I DO like is that the “fat dancer” is doing us all a favor. Anyone who comes in and says, “hey, I may not be what you think I should be but I’m still rockin this life” can do some amazing stuff to the idea of “normal” in the first place. So go on with your bad ass self. And I love this blog. ❤

    • What’s so great (and so funny) about your comment is that after I posted this blog, I asked Marianne the same question above and her reaction was similar to yours.
      I was thinking about it when I went to bed and I don’t have much of an answer either except to say that my thinking was definitely complicated.
      I’m also torn between the words tolerance and acceptance. I think the coworker above is definitely toward the tolerance side of the spectrum – meaning he’s still going to vote against my right (and the rights of others) come May. And that’s not okay. But I’m still learning how to balance the “I’m just like you” mantra with the “But I need you to understand that for me to have the same rights as you I need to change the system – sometimes in an in-your-face kinda way” reality.
      Sigh… it’s amazing how quickly things, ideas can get complicated. Watch for a reaction piece either today or tomorrow…

  4. being normal or being as you or being as everyone else just means being who you are. Look around you, do we find people that are alike? not really! we are way too unique to be categorized as normal and not normal. It is not as black and white. Just the fact that there are so many religions, so many types of jeans, so many different foods, so many hair styles or lack of hair and it is still normal.

    What is not normal is – that one of those unique groups decide that they have the right to tell other groups that they are not normal and they should not have rights.

    If I were you, I would stop by your co-workers desk and ask when he chose to be straight and would not leave till I get an answer.

    So if he says that he never made a choice just because he was born that way, then you didn’t choose to be gay and you deserve same human rights as him.
    If he says that he made a choice, then ask him how can he say that his choice for some reason is better than yours? and if he had chosen the other way, then he doesn’t deserve any rights, right?

    and you are right – in your face, regardless what his reply is as you are as him, you are a human who wants the choice to live your life according to your heart.

    • While I agree with the sentiment, it would take a lot more than a casual conversation. And work is not the place to have that type of conversation.
      It is what it is. There are other people like him who I do not work with that I can engage in conversation. Who knows, maybe someone else will talk to him.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone, powered by CREDO Mobile.

  5. Pingback: More questions than answers… « Poems, Prayers, Promises & Politics

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