I was recently dropped into a Seinfeld episode. The kind where you stammer through conversation, start sweating a little, probably get flushed and then just kind of shrug.
I didn’t ask for it. It just kind of happened. And I didn’t realize the awkward humor in the whole thing until I sent a text to one of my besties.
“Everyone thinks I’m in a committed, gay relationship.”
That was the text. With a few more things – mainly the crying-laughing emoji and another comment about “getting comfy with my relationship status.”
Even Facebook thought I was, despite seeing my undying, and I realize sometimes a little syrupy, love-letter essays about Ron. But because I support equality and have fun looking through goofy T-shirt pages – some of them with amazing feminist and snarky sayings on them – like, “Sounds gay. I’m in!” – Facebook thought I’d enjoy a romantic island retreat exclusively for lesbian couples.
Or maybe Facebook was just picking up on my love of adventure and thought they’d give it a shot. Anyway, targeting failed there. And that’s okay.
And so was the Seinfeld episode. Totally okay. But totally hilarious.
It occurred to me a year or so ago that domestic partner benefits don’t only apply to same-sex couples. In other words, domestic partners don’t need to be gay. And they aren’t – living proof.
But the phrase is definitely owned by the gay community. And only when I had to start using it out loud did I realize the discomfort that comes with putting a label on your sex life. As a heterosexual woman, I’ve never had to experience that. There was never any discomfort. Ever.
I mean, as an adult. Let’s not try and pretend that everyone’s journey through junior high wasn’t uncomfortable.
I once heard or read someone talking about coming out, and hearing or reading that person say that heterosexuals never have to proclaim they’re straight. And they don’t, making that proclamation against the norm feel even heavier for the person saying it.
At least, I imagine.
So then I inquire about domestic partner benefits, the inquiry is handled with grace and professionalism and respect and care and delicacy and everything you’d want in that situation. Everything. Honestly. Really.
With it though, came an assumption. A wrong one.
BUT IT WOULD BE FINE IF IT WERE RIGHT.
“Well, now that the state allows you to get married….”
And there’s one of the moments. Hoping to speak to the quiet-talker in HR, I got in her long line to ask about benefits for domestic partners. And I waited. I was going to be last, I thought. Perfect.
That way I could explain why I was inquiring. As if it mattered.
IT DIDN’T MATTER.
And then a loud-talker approached me, spoiling my attempt to be discreet, trying to help the line move faster and wondering if I had questions that could be answered. I did, and the loud talker gave me the above – where I confessed we weren’t married.
But I didn’t tell her I wasn’t gay. I don’t know why. I did later, to other people who tried to help me through the process, slipping in a “it’s me and my boyfriend…” as if it mattered.
To me, it is as innocuous as someone thinking I’m left-handed or vegetarian. I’m neither. And also not gay.
BUT IT WOULD BE OKAY IF I WAS.
It’s just that I’m not. Isn’t that funny? For all the progress we’ve made for equality, here I am sweating out the first time I’ve had to say I’m not gay out loud.
What perspective and experience does. I’m thinking it’ll push me to support equality even more than I do now publicly, which will mean I’ll probably get even more ads for tropical, gay getaways – if the algorithm sticks.
NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.