Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So a gay man and a priest walk into the bar...

This title has nothing to do with this story. Sorry if you came here looking for a story because you won't find it.

Instead I've a much less interesting story for you.

A friend of mine was talking to me today. We sing in choir together - we've known each other for quite a few years. She found out last year I was gay; I had my suspicions of her being a lesbian confirmed at the same time. We have been good friends since - beforehand being connected by nothing but our mutual love of singing with large groups of people.

We had a rehearsal for a performance not too long ago. A technical rehearsal actually; our performance involved a lot of changing lighting, projections, and much more - everything was very studiously considered and synchronized by the director. And she had an image.

In the consummate love song, towards the end, the director asked us to hold our partner's hand or do something else to communicate a sense of attachment and friendship. I was ok with it. So was my friend. I held my partner's hand - a stunning young alto that I am sure has been admired by many people from afar for her amazing black hair - and my friend held her partner's hand - some young man that I can only recall for occasionally failing to sing the correct tone.

Being in a choir, there was not quite enough men for all the women to be partnered to one. (what I am not telling you here is that we accidentally had a couple sopranos get through the auditions who could neither sight-read music with pitch or with rhythm, and so we had to search for more sopranos to try and smother them, and this almost destroyed the balance of the ensemble as a result.) So some women were partnered with women.

One, a friend of my friend, refused to 'hold hands with a woman'. I remember overhearing this and being a little bit annoyed - as I was holding hands with a woman myself. A stranger at that. And regardless of her beauty, I had no interest in her whatsoever. The friend of the friend did not provide an explanation, but the song we were singing was clearly written with romantic love in mind. What was communicated was that a woman cannot being romantically involved with a woman, or, at the very least, a woman who is not interested in being romantically involved with a woman should not be forced to act as though there is some sort of chemistry between her and another woman.

This bothered me for a moment or two, but I let it pass. She is young, and from a small town in B.C. I figured she would grow up in her years at university.

My friend did not let it slide. She told me how she raised it with her friend in a conversation, as something that really bothered her. That she was angry at her friend for her comment, her insensitivity to the fact that all of the homosexuals and other-sexuals in the room were actually not having their romantic relationships recognized at all but were in fact being asked (once again! oh scourge of existence!) to act straight. She was angry.

My friend then told me how her friend did not feel she had done anything wrong, and that she was confused by how anybody could possibly think she had. This is a friend (of a friend) that knew of my friend's sexuality, and that was supportive, and that celebrated my friend's recent first move into the world of romance with her.

And they have not spoken since. Certainly there are many rational explanations for why they have not spoken for the last couple weeks - it is finals period, which is busy for students. My friend's friend has been moving to a new apartment, and is prepping to do a quick visit home to B.C. before her job starts up. My friend just started a new job herself, and has had a series of concerts and associated rehearsals ever since (the joy of being a musician during Holy Week).

But she wanted my advice anyways.

And I told her this (not a direct quote):

"Don't ever get mad at your friends for what appears to be insensitivity. This existence is newer for them than it is for you. The language we expect of them is confusing. They will make mistakes all the time - we make mistakes all the time. Your allies are your core people, and they will suck some times. Be patient with them, just as they have been with you."

Thankfully my friend is quite introspective. I know people who would never accept a response of that nature.

Don't become hetero-phobic and get angry at people when they are making mistakes about gender and romance in a new world of developing sexual equality. This is hard stuff for society to accept, even harder for them to change consciously. Let them make mistakes, and don't correct them in anger.