By: Carol Rood
I have been in a relationship with my lovely Bluebell for 7 years. We are very open about being together, yet we do not announce it to everyone we meet at the first meeting. We feel as though being together is just a part of who we are, not the sum of who we are.
Because, in addition to being a person in a relationship with a woman, I am also a mom to 3 boys, a step mom to a boy and a girl, a college student, a worker, a retired Navy person, etc. Think about it this way, when you meet someone for the first time, they don’t say, “Hi my name is Jane and I am a heterosexual woman who is married to Tom.” With that in mind, I don’t need to say, “Hi, I am Carol and I am a lesbian in a relationship with Bluebell.” Besides the fact that I am more than just that, many people are bigoted and I like to get to know people before I tell them my personal life.
I have always believed that if I meet someone who becomes my friend (or at least has a friendly relationship with me) before knowing my relationship status, but then changes their opinion of me and no longer likes me once they find out, it tells me their character (or lack therof). Those are people I don’t want to be friends with anyway, so I move on.
Once I tell them about my relationship status I get various responses. Most people say, “Oh, that doesn’t bother me. I have a friend, hairdresser, cousin, (fill in the blank) who is gay. I am cool with that.” Sometimes I just get a “That is fine with me.” But the ones I like the best are the people who I tell, and then I can actually see the mental processing taking place.
I will be having a conversation with someone and I will nonchalantly say something like, “Yes, my partner said the same thing the other day.” You can actually see their brain whirring, and almost see the thought bubble over their head as they realize I said “partner” and what that means. Then they blink and respond. This whole process usually takes about 1-2 seconds, but it is always obvious. It makes me smile every time.
Recently I was talking to my 14-year-old son’s girlfriend’s mother. Zack and R were going to an event and I was telling R’s mom that Bluebell would be picking up the kids. I said, “I have a meeting, so my partner will be picking up the kids.” Zack and R have been dating for over a year. I have talked to R’s mother many times. I guess I had never before that time used the word “partner”. The minute I used that word, I saw the mental process taking place. As I watched that happen, time slowed down, (just like in the movies), and I held my breath. In that split second of watching her process, lots of thoughts went running through my head. What if she doesn’t like gay people? What if she won’t let R date Zack anymore because his mom is gay? What if she doesn’t want her daughter around gay people? I mean who knows really? The nicest people you meet may be prejudiced. You don’t know until they make themselves known by saying something or doing something that shows their prejudice. After a couple of seconds, R’s mother completed her processing, blinked and said, “Ok, no problem.”
And then she smiled! Whew…crisis averted. R’s mom is okay with me and now I won’t be the cause of heartbreak for my kid! My heart stopped beating staccato.
Our kids are growing up. I am sure that was just the first of many more “unveilings” in our (and their) futures. I can only hope that all the other parents will be as open minded as R’s mother.