I had an interesting day yesterday. Typical in many ways, busy and not a lot of time to slow down. The part that made it interesting wasn’t actually about the job. Sure, it put me in a position to have a particular conversation at a particular time. It was fascinating.
Our business concluded, we needed to wait out a period of time. The client talked a bit about their personal life. I talked about mine. The catch: they assumed I was straight. The look of surprise as I quietly corrected the assumption was about what you would expect. They paused a moment and then dived for it. Did I mind answering questions they were curious about? I had no issue answering whatever they might choose to ask. I also knew just where it would go. Which it did.
The client was originally from Ohio and in their middle 50s. They grew up Southern Baptist and in a very conservative family. Again, I was not very surprised with any of that. What did surprise me was the statement that they had never actually known anyone that was gay. My mind instantly supplied: That you know of. (Which my tongue did not unleash)
So, the standard questions followed, who is the man and who the woman in the relationship, so forth. I answered calmly and politely while trying not to outright laugh. All of the propaganda that the conservative talking heads slather on about came up and I was able to to address them logically. Then came the prize winning question, the one that took the amusement out of the encounter and brought in some genuine thought and interest.
How did you know you were? I almost wanted to clap and applaud! This is a good question. This is really what people want to understand. I smiled and gave her the story of my light bulb going off about Scott Martel. They listened intently and nodded when I was done with the tale. Then came the next bombshell.
They firmly believed it is genetic and had nothing to do with environment or nurturing. I nearly fell from my chair. They thanked me for answering their questions and being willing to share without hesitation. They were now glad to be able to say they knew someone gay and it was really, honestly okay and their world did not end in a rain of burning brimstone nor did Jesus immediately appear and hit them over the head with his shepherd’s crook.
Ya know, I really am coming to believe it does come down to knowing people. It is harder to fear something you have faced and discovered isn’t the hideous, insidious evil incarnate you were brought up to believe in. Living an open life is the best course. Having patience and the willingness to talk about that life can change someone else’s day and potentially their perspective. Who would have thought??