Issue September 8, 2010

Choose your own adventure

Based on the few real-life awkward situations bestowed upon me in the past week (which specifically regarded my sexuality), this exercise is meant to engage you, the reader, in an exploration of options. It merely requires that you have some familiarity with the idea of making choices and being awkward.

For the purpose of this exercise, we will refer to the term awkward social situations as ASS. Most people have witnessed the power of ASS through daily experiences. They happen all the time but often get dismissed as faux pas or social blunders that should be immediately ignored. Here, you can take a journey through some firsthand accounts of public awkwardness through the eyes of this particular lezzie. Because the more I am presented with ASSes, the more I realize their potential to be gateways into a friendly sort of activism. ASSes can be opportunities to take potentially offensive or embarrassing instances and turn them into learning experiences.

So, let’s explore some of our ASS options below. When you are finished with the exercise, maybe you’ll be inspired to make up some of your own. Make them as feasible, productive, mundane or politically incorrect as you see fit. Let’s begin.

Situation 1: You are shopping at a chain hardware store for all your home improvement needs. You buy some tools and lumber so you can fix and build things. The elderly male employee at the checkout counter obviously has a different idea of what “check out” means when he looks you up and down, from your sandals to your cut-off shorts to your sleeveless T-shirt. Do you look like a walking stereotype? Sure you do. As he scans your 2-by-4s and compact cordless drill, he says, “Your boyfriend sure has his work cut out for him, eh?”

Do you:

A) Give him your I-don’t-know-what-you-are-saying-because-I-am-Swedish look and quickly leave.

B) Explain to him your exciting sexual history with women until a crowd forms and you get kicked out.

C) Say, “Jesus is my boyfriend. You know, carpenter Jesus?” And see where it goes from there.

Situation 2: You are at a housewarming party consisting of friends of all ages and sexual orientations. You are sitting on the porch, enjoying the cool evening air with your girlfriend and two gay friends who are in what they call a “long-term committed relationship.” A young lady walks out, introduces herself, and then proceeds to tell the porchful of lesbians how much she hates her job, calling it “gay.”

Do you:

A) Think, “Big whoop. Everybody says that.”

B) Get really offended so that others might also get offended.

C) Bust out laughing. And let it go.

D) Ask her if she is gay. Because if she’s gay, then maybe calling something you hate gay is OK? Then, bring up the negative connotation of the “N-word.”

Situation 3: You are at your best friend’s wedding reception with your favorite gay man as your date. You are wearing a dress and heels. Maybe your hair isn’t doing exactly what you would like it to do, but who cares? This is the bride’s day. You are mingling with an old friend’s mother who has known you since you were in the 6th grade. She may have had a bit too much to drink. She asks you how you have been, then looks at your man-date, then back at you, then at your man-date, and then at her drink. “I see that you are here with a man,” she slurs. “So, does that mean you have … gone through a change?”

Do you:

A) Get into a lengthy discussion about the fluidity of sexuality and how it can change with time. Explain to her that once you truly accept yourself, it doesn’t matter whether you want to be with a man or a woman. What matters is the love between two human beings and staying honest with yourself. Then buy her a drink.

B) Say, “Nope. Still gay.”

C) Kiss her to prove a point.

D) All of the above.

As we continue to go out into public on occasion, I hope we all remember to take the inevitable awkward social situations of life and create some memorable experiences.