I work in an office as a professional, with many other professionals who specialize in various fields. I contribute to the overall positive and beneficial outcomes of what my employer provides to serve the public and the United States of America (insert wave of US Flag).
There are thousands of professionals employed where I work. On the floor of the large office building where I have my desk, I’d say there are some 50 – 60 people, and many of them are men. Most are around my age.
Within any group of men, inevitably, some are gay. There’s a guy whose desk is down the hall from mine, and my gaydar told me that he was gay. My belief that he was gay was confirmed from some of his posts on a social network on which we have become connected.
He’s not in my work group, so I do not interact with him that much. However, on Monday at a monthly birthday celebration (where the staff gets together for an afternoon break to have cake and wish happy birthday to whomever has a birthday that month), another colleague asked me what I was doing for Memorial Day weekend. You know, just chit-chat. I said that I was going to visit my mother-in-law, and wasn’t looking forward to it.
My colleague said, “I thought you were gay.” Instead of reacting strongly (that is, becoming angry at the implication that just because I am gay doesn’t mean that I cannot have a mother-in-law), I replied, “I have a partner, and consider his mother my mother-in-law.” My colleague said, “oh, okay. Well, I’m sorry that you’re not looking forward to your visit with her. I hope things work out okay.” No reaction of surprise or shock. He was growing accustomed to learning more about a colleague who happens to be gay and he just learned how I refer to my partner and his mother.
That other guy (the gay guy to whom I referred above) overheard us. With shock in his voice and some giddy excitement, and in a rather high pitch, he exclaimed, “you’re one of US?” (emphasis added.) I asked, “what do you mean?” (knowing full well what he meant.)
He said, “I had no idea you were gay.” I said, “I don’t wave a flag, if that’s what you mean. I’m just a regular guy who is in a stable, monogamous relationship with another guy.” I think this guy was shocked because I do not have mannerisms that others expect gay men to have. I dunno — nothing to be said here about stereotypes; I’ve said that enough. I’m just a guy. A masculine guy who happens to be gay.
He asked me, “do you and your partner go to (such-and-such location) monthly gatherings in (local town, but not DC)?” Answer: “No. I turn into a pumpkin at 9pm; can’t handle the hours.”
He asked, “will you be going to the (performance of a gay icon singer)?” Apparently, this performance has been talked up a lot among the local LGBT community. I had no idea. I replied, “nope. I don’t like her so-called singing.”
The guy didn’t know what to do with me, but couldn’t pursue it further at the time (in that setting) as other people were around and the chit-chat changed course. I returned to my office and got engaged in what I do for a living. Soon enough, I forgot about it… but my “new friend” didn’t.
All week this week, he’s been sending me email, inviting me to the LGBT group at the office, to help staff the table representing the agency at the Gay Pride day in Washington, DC, and to attend a social gathering among LGBT staff at the agency — an after-work happy hour at a local pub.
I don’t want to be mean, but I’m not interested. It has nothing to do with living in a closet — I don’t. I’m “out” to those who know me, and don’t hide my sexual orientation. But I don’t wave it around, either. I am who I am. Look at it this way, guys who are straight don’t put up flags or stickers that extoll “straightness.” I feel the opposite is true in my case. We’re all here together, gay or straight. No.big.deal.
I finally went over to the guy’s office yesterday and explained that I am not interested in becoming involved in LGBT activities at work for several reasons.
First, I am in a relationship that to me is the same as a marriage. I don’t go out by myself to socialize (except with my family), and my partner hates social activities so he won’t join me anyway. Ain’t gonna happen.
This took my colleague by surprise. I honestly think that we are the first gay couple he has learned about who do not socialize, at all. His reaction was both funny and one of shock. He couldn’t believe it. But his only experience with other couples are those he meets at social events — so he only knows socializers. (That is, he doesn’t know the people he doesn’t meet because they choose not to socialize.)
Second, my “after work” is two hours earlier than the time the group gets together, and honestly, I have no interest in hanging around the office for two hours longer than I have to. I have other things to do (like mow the lawn, run errands, do some quick visits with senior pals, and prepare a home-cooked meal to serve promptly at 6:15pm as I always do every evening since we never dine out.)
Third, I can’t stand (such-and-such performer). Seriously. Can’t stand her. My choice. But no way am I going to go see some performance in which she is involved. No way. Yuck. (sorry, I am deliberately being circumspect because if I published her name on this blog, then it would drive visits to this post from internet searches on her name, and this post is not about her, and I don’t want comments related to that.)
Fourth, one of my family members has a graduation party on the day of DC Gay Pride, and when faced with a choice to be with the family I love vis-a-vis standing at a table in the hot sun on hot pavement around a bunch of people in shorts and flip-flops — sorry, the choice is clear. I’ll be in boots and jeans flippin’ burgers on the grill and celebrating the achievement of one of my great nephews. My partner will probably be relaxing in our backyard park, as he loves to do on warm weekend afternoons.
Anyway, I don’t have to explain, but I thought for purposes of this blog, I would describe this interaction and affirm that not all gay guys are the same. Some of us enjoy more social activities, and some don’t.
Life is short: be who you are, and do what you want to do.
Note: this post will remain up for a few days. While others are enjoying Memorial Day weekend, perhaps in Chicago at “International Mr. Leather” or on a big motorcycle event held in DC or whatever… my partner and I will be in ” ‘da burgh,” doing whatever we need to do for his mother. I will resume blogging when we get back and my life returns to normal and is less hectic because, thank goodness, May will be over! Have a nice weekend, and a safe holiday. See you next month!