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Not Thinking Straight by Madelyn Arnold
Hi There! Guess what WE do!
by Madelyn Arnold - SGN Contributing Writer

We look over people we meet and decide if we think they are more like us, or less. Methods of dress suggest position, religion, and perhaps political stance: business suits, bikinis, yarmulkes, turbans, chadors, saris, etc.

And we're likely to decide if this one was born here based on how he or she 'sounds'. Foreigners sound as if their take on American English is at least a touch foreign.

When encountering a foreign man or woman with skin of velvety black, and told s/he was born in Nigeria or Nubia, perhaps that brings up an impression of where s/he hails from, what sort of countryside s/he's grown up in. Africans do fascinate us.... Up here in the American North, we tend to think folks with that skin color [called PURPLE, for the record] must be foreign-born, although there are lots of such people in this country...

Meeting whites whose English is a great deal different from yours may cause you to reflect... was this one raised foreign to English? Or just to our form of it? The Netherlands or Iceland, versus the British Isles, Australia or, say, the Seychelles? Ah, the Seychelles. Exotic, but with English.

Funny, but fellow native speakers from whatever country doesn't seem as 'foreign' as foreigners whose English was learned later. Meeting people with accents who have with skin neither white nor very black, suggests various countries of origin; and brown-skinned folks using American English may remind us of Latinos or those of mixed race. Utterly American.

Whatever sort of person we encounter, it isn't at all unusual for us to think we know a little about them - that they're like us in ordinary ways, such as that they eat more than one meal a day, don't like being stung by hornets, or comb their hair with something cozier than a brick.

But then being told about something that doesn't show -- Hi, I'm Jewish. Episcopalian. Muslim. Vegetarian. Pregnant. - Do these self-definitions call up images? I think they may. But except to those with fixed prejudices, the image is fairly benign [such as, Muslim: prayer rugs, fastidiously obeying the call to pray many times a day. Like an observant Catholic].

The image called up isn't very far from our image of ourselves.
And what is called up when people state they are homosexual?
Ho. Mo. SECshoo al.
Well, it doesn't have a ring-off like "research scientist".

Please let me make it clear that, for all the many reasons we have repeatedly stated, I absolutely believe in us outing ourselves, but - What we call up in stating we are homosexual men and women, is our sex lives - what you put where, graphically. Hello -- I'm Pat and I X and Y the B and C of other [wo]men.

You have to admit, that's a passing strange way to say hello.

Among straights, even where the idea of soon-to-be-"legal" sex has accompanied one's introduction [hi, we're getting married] - marriage has been around so long [and the expectation of virginity so low] that the first things the onlooker thinks about is likely to be long dresses and men's dress suits - perhaps wonderful food in delightful surroundings - emotional scenes, happy faces... not what, after all, should be private.

Those images in all their innocence is one reason to call for marriage instead of "domestic partner". That phrase reminds of mules [domestic animals partner'd for plowing].

But we need to be explicit for at least a few dozen more years; that is, until the terms for U.S. only call up the image of us as another sort of people. Like "marriage" does for straights. Of course, using "Gay" circumvents the graphic. Sort of.

But you know how most folks who are not Gay vote us into the straight ranks...? I used to have a tee shirt saying: How Dare You Presume I'm Straight! - until a lover said gently, "honey, not very many people do...."

Well, uh, just so I don't think of you as a friend and have you "find out" and loathe me for "fooling" you:

"I'm Maddy Arnold and I, starting out with same-sex kisses, may X and Y a woman's Z and Q." Which is a damned weird way of meeting new people [blush]....

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