The more you learn about gay and lesbian culture from this fine volume and elsewhere, the more likely it becomes that you will be able to recognize someone as queer even if s/he has not come out to you yet. Knowing yourself to be a sensitive, supportive individual, you may wonder if you should try to use this information for good instead of evil, and let your prospective outcomer know that you Know. In some cases, this can be a good idea, but it must be handled delicately.
You may not think this is possible, but it is. Many persons walk about daily giving off more queer vibes than an entire roomful of RuPaul clones, and yet continue to identify as heterosexual. This is because the human capacity for denial and rationalization is unmatched by any other mental phenomenon in the known universe. Ask Spock if you don't believe me. Your pal Bill may have just spent half an hour talking about how beautiful Jaye Davidson is and how he watched Stargate on slow motion, he may have pierced ears, tattoos, graceful and fluttering hand gestures and a fondness for hot dogs that you are sure has to be Freudian, he may just have ended his third brief and unhappy marriage, but if you sit Bill down and say, "Three strikes and you're out, Bill, I think you need to start looking for love in quite different places," he will be shocked, appalled, horrified, and more than a little angry. If Bill were ready or able to confront this possibility, it would have happened by now, and your well-meaning intervention will only alienate him and perhaps drive him further into the depths of repression. You must wait for Bill to get his own clue. And when he does come out to you, don't forget to feign surprise.
Don't sit your prospective outcomer down and say, "I just want you to know I know you're gay and I think it's A-OK." Aside from the fact that you will risk breaking the first rule by saying this to someone who doesn't, herself, know she's gay, which will cause all kinds of out-freakings, you will also be forcing someone to talk about something s/he may not be ready to discuss at all, or ready to discuss with you.
However, you can pave the way for an outcoming by bringing up a related topic and making it clear where you stand on the issue. For instance, on any given day in this country any number of phobic politicians will be making public nuisances of themselves over some gay rights issue. Lambasting this sort of idiocy is always timely, and can be used to segue into a general discussion of gay issues during which you flash your tolerant credentials. This will identify you as someone who would be receptive to an outcoming. Other ways you can do this include:
Pick someone who knows you well enough to trust you with this information, or s/he may suspect you of being some kind of government agent sent to collect the names and addresses of deviants in preparation for that great internment in Arizona that we all know is part of the Republican Party's secret platform. Also, do not try this out with people whose position in life requires them to remain closeted, as it will only make them more uncomfortable and paranoid.
If your outcomer responds to "We were so happy when little Susie finally brought home a girlfiend, we were worried she might not find love until she got out of high school" with "Y'know, I really like these shrimp kabobs Aunt Elsie brought," drop the subject. It is your outcomer's prerogative to take the opening, and if s/he does not go for the bait, respect his/her wish to remain silent. If you push it, your outcomer will become irritable, and perhaps use you to demonstrate one or two alternative uses for the shrimp kabobs.
You may think that Cousin Doris is a dyke, but that doesn't mean Aunt Louise needs to hear about this. Don't plant this suspicion in the minds of people who will use your well-meaning ponderance for evil purposes. Especially don't mention your wooping to your prospective outcomer's parents, close friends, employers, significant others, or drill sergeants. You do not want to be the unwitting instigator of a campaign of harassment and persecution. Let your outcomer enjoy the warmth and security of the closet for as long as is necessary.
On to Chapter Four: Taking a Transsexual In
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