It’s never just a one-off event. Those in the LGBTQ+ community have to come out many times during their lives and each time presents itself with a different challenge. NERD’s Animation Director and Animator Yael Biran shares her very personal thoughts and feelings with us for the first time on the topic.
June is LGBTQ+ Pride month. But if we’re honest this month should really be re-named ‘LGBTQ+ parade and parties month’, or ‘LGBTQ+ visibility month’, or possibly more accurately – ‘let’s all get a little of that ‘pink pound’ in our pockets month’. Because in reality, us LGBTQ+ers have to be proud all the months of the year.
Though it is true that mainly during June (to honour the 1969 stonewall riots which luckily happened in a month that is usually sunny) we get to walk down the streets shouting about it, then paying lots of money to go dance about it and buying overpriced drinks cheering it and for some of the young generations, I assume, it is also a slightly confusing day when you can’t swipe left or right and you just have to dive into it.
But for all of us – oldies or youngies, the pride parade is a gorgeous bubble of colour that is there to help charge our batteries up for the other 364 days of the year, when we need our daily pride in the real world.
To be fair, in my own life, I have rarely experienced homophobia. That is not to say that I have never experienced it – I have had men changing seats on a night train so they can sit opposite me and my then girlfriend and stare at us as if they were taking their seats in some seedy cinema ready for the porno flick to begin. I have ended up in court suing a party venue operator who allows anyone through their doors no matter their religion, colour or wine preference, but would not host a party for me and my wife (we won that case by the way), and I have had to choose a school for my 2 boys where I felt the fact that they have 2 mums is not going to make their life hell. However notwithstanding, on the whole, in the day to day, I have rarely experienced homophobia.
So why the need for daily pride?
That is because the fear of homophobia is always there.
When you are LGBTQ+, or in my specific case – a lesbian, you have to come out, or choose to come out, or chose not to come out, almost every day.
Every time you meet a new person you have to come out. Okay, not EVERY time… For example, if you start chit chatting to someone on the train and all you talk about is how warm it is on the tube when it is so cold outside and how people get ill because of it… Then yes, you don’t have to come out. But if they then say something like “yes, my wife has been ill for almost a week now” and you want to say “mine as well!” then you do have to come out.
Or you don’t HAVE to, you can decide that you don’t want this gamble, and that you don’t fancy finding out what this stranger’s reaction is going to be, because it can be anything from totally ignoring the fact a woman just said “my wife” (best case scenario) through to “I think you mean ‘my Husband?’” (yes, I have had that said to me) to silence and embarrassment and stammering something like “ahh yeahh I think that’s great, gay people are great… I loved ‘Pricilla Queen of the Desert’…”.
Let’s be honest, all those responses are not that bad really when you think about it, I know people who have been shouted at, or punched, or worse, so I guess someone giving me their approval to be who I am without me asking or wanting or needing it, is low on the scale of tragedies, but it is the non-stop-ness of it that is eroding.
That fear is so much bigger when the person you have just met is someone who holds some sort of a key to your future, be it a teacher, an employer, a client, a party venue operator or your dentist. In those cases, you fear their reaction, but more than that you fear their decision whether to listen to you, hire you, serve you or hurt you more than necessary.
And it should be pointed out that the decision not to come out is not an easy one as well. Not coming out is not simply refraining from telling the story that you really wanted to share in order to be part of a conversation. Not coming out is either deleting your partner from every conversation you have or over thinking every line you say until your partner becomes genderless in those awkward sentences like – “Yes, my PARTNER is great too… THEY love doing the cooking…”
And when you have kids, then ‘not coming out’ in situations where they’re next to you is even harder. Like when a stranger cooingly says to them “Wow you are so fast, I bet you can already run faster than your dad!”, then not explaining that ‘there is no dad’ is confusing to your child, while explaining the ‘no dad’ situation is just asking for a long-winded conversation that you really, but really, did not want to have when taking your kid to the playground.
So, the answer to all of that, to the daily grind of constant fear and feeling that every interaction with a new person is like flipping a coin on their reaction to your gayness – the only answer, is pride!
You must be proud in order to survive and negotiate life, you must be proud in order to pretend you just said “my wife” as an ‘off the cuff’ remark so you can signal to the person in front of you that they now must act as if nothing out of the ordinary has been said. And if, like me, you have kids, then you must practice pride in every encounter they are witnessing, so they don’t have to feel proud of their two mums for being lesbians, as being gay is not a big deal and they are simply proud of their two mums for being amazing, gorgeous, loving, funny, talented and perfect-in-every-way kind of mothers!
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