Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Shorting Out

We were waiting to take off, sitting in the disabled area near the gate, with another couple. She used a really cool looking scooter and my interest in the fact that she had it at the gate started the conversation. I asked about her experiences with traveling with a scooter and that was it, we were off. They were a well established elderly couple recently retired, both had worked longer than 65 because both had wanted to.

Disability travel formed the basis of the conversation but little personal bits came out as we talked. It soon became clear to them that Joe was not my assistant but my husband and we knew that realization had hit them when they had cartoon short-outs in their eyes. We, at exactly the same time knew that we were talking to opponents of gay marriage and perhaps even gay rights.

But.

We were stuck, each of us, in conversation with the other. So, we all sucked up our surprise and discomfort, engaged civility and carried on. The tension soon eased as stories of travel and of non-disabled interference and also of their kindnesses flowed. Disabled travelers at airports have lots in common and lots to talk about and an abundance of stories to tell.

By the time we were head down to the plane to be seated we'd had a good jaw, even though for a time the jaws creaked with tension, and that the time had flown by. We thanked each other and they, gingerly, acknowledge Joe's and my relationship by hoping that we boys had a good trip.

I wonder if they will think about us when the topic comes up in the future, I wonder what story they will tell. I hope that our mutual decision to be civil with each other and to carry on talking about a topic we all were comfortable with will make a difference.

Contact sometimes does that.

I hope it does for us as well, I hope we learned that instead of shutting down, carrying on might be a good political strategy. It's one we wouldn't have had the strength to do when we were young, but now, we're a little older and a little more able to be subtle. We will be who we are, openly, and politely, even with people who's eyes short out when they think of us kissing.

3 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

It shouldn't have taken them over 65 years to realize a gay couple is human.

That is willful isolation.

It is one thing to be clueless about the relationships of other people, another to have such strong stereotypes that you've never had a conversation with someone different.

Glad you had a good talk. I wonder how on Earth they would have done the opposite of what they did, how they might have turned nasty, what your post would have been like.

We're all just people, people.

Shannon said...

I think contact does sometimes make a difference - sometimes you realize those you thought of as "other" are just people with lives not as different from your own as you might have believed.

Unknown said...

Those moments of grace...unexpected connections...are lovely....
Kudos to all of you for being able to choose kindness over righteousness.

Each day, we choose again. Thanks for reminding me, Dave.

clairesmum