Monday, October 01, 2012

Space, the Final Frontier

Do people understand that they can be heard?

Do people understand that they live in a bigger world, much bigger world, than they can imagine?

Joe and I were leaving the hotel to go and get some groceries. I've got a stuffy nose so we decided to forgo the movie and just stay in, cook a something 'homey,' and rest. Both Joe and I enjoy having the occasional slow day thrown our way so we were both moving slowly. I read in bed for a long while. Joe puttered around doing laundry and organising suitcases. It was nice. It's been a rainy day so we waited for a break in the weather so we could head out and shop.

The opportunity came just before two.

We headed out of the room and down the long corridor by the front desk. A group of businessmen, travelling together, were checking into the hotel. They formed a longish line up. The clerk was trying to get all the rooms organised. We didn't hear what happened but we did hear one of the men respond to her with a joke about sharing a room with one bed with another of the men. He started to mince around and lisp saying that he'd be the 'lady' tonight. They all howled.


I'm told that I don't have a sense of humour any more.

I do. But it serves the purpose of those who wish the freedom to stereotype and mock others to put the blame on me.

I'm told that I take things too personally.

I don't. But it serves the purpose of those who constantly suggest that they don't mean to be mean to make it about 'me' and 'my issues'.

But, though I do have a sense of humour and though I don't take things personally, I also believe that people have a responsibility to remember that public space is public space. That people can hear them. Does one of the clerks have a lesbian daughter? Is one of the men travelling in the troop laughing to prove that he isn't what they suspect him of being? Is the fat guy in the wheelchair being helped out the door by the man he's loved for over forty years?

I know that I will be told that I should have spoken up. That I should have done something. I may even be told that I am somehow responsible for what happened. But, here's the thing, I don't wish to constantly be taking on the world. I don't want to grow tired and bitter. I choose to choose my battles. Those who know me know I do speak up. Those who know me know that I am a letter writer, an email warrior and that I've even won a battle or two.

I shouldn't have even had to write that last paragraph.

What I should be able to do is go out of a hotel, by a group of businessmen joking about the travel, the rain, their business they were there to do ... NOT the denigration of a whole group of people.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

sometimes words hurt. I know that.

But I might have a problem with jokes - they run in my family, they lighten up the mood and sometimes you "just do them" (no judgemental idea here, more like a habit)to lighten the mood or get through a new idea or to stop feeling uncomfortable.

Jokes about disability are okay for me and my friends when WE do them amongst each other. Because WE are diasabled and we know it is teasing.

They happen. Yes. And I will try harder to do them only in private. But I think a lot of good mood an vibration can get lost if you loose all the jokes. Sometimes a ducks bottom is simply a ducks bottom.

And some pictures in my head will never leave me. Like the first time I asked my psychotherapist if he is wearing tight green glittery pants and a pink muscle shirt in gym. When infact he is simply wearing sports T-Shirt and sports shorts like my father.

Its like thinking about an alien and only thinking about something green with one eye and an antenna.

I dont know whether I can make my point here or if a go on offending you. - If so I am sorry.

I know that you would never say that sometimes a jokes is just a joke and one should look at his words.

But sometimes a lot of interesting conversation would have got lost. And if you had spoken up maybe a good talk would have come out of it and a cliché would have melted.

But sometimes I feel like you especially if someone is doing jokes about my hands.


Anonymous said...

Personally this is one time I don't thing you needed to speak up. It wasn't directed at you or in reference to you, nor were you involved with the conversation. It still hurts - but how wonderful it would have been if someone in that group said something.

I know what anon#1 means - we were a joking family - and diffused many an awkward situation with humor. Everyone was fair game - the dynamic of our family. Yet - we would try to be mindful of public spaces.

Many do not agree with same sex love. That is just the way it is. Some may read this post because of the opportunity to read and learn something about coping with disabilities, not because they are gay. Our sexuality helps shape who we are - but shouldn't define our work/calling. That is something that has been fought against. (Can't be in the military, teach, etc.)

I think you probably have more influence in this blog that you would have with a group of business men - with their bravo and ego spilling over into laughter.

Be brave - be safe.

Baba Yaga said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with that kind of thing.

I did once point out to some loud gossips that I could hear and interpret every word: the response was blank incomprehension. It confirmed my impression that people who don't naturally recognise a distinction between public and private aren't _going_ to recognise it, just because one draws it to their attention.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I am sorry that you and Joe were subject to that ridicule - even if it was not directed at you, it was still ridicule and it was still hurtful.

One of the things that leaped out at me from your post - you have loved Joe for 40 years! There are not many couples these days who can say that. Having been married for 38 years myself I know that a relationship that lasts that long is based on deep love and hard work. Those men likely could have taken a lesson or two from you and Joe. But their prejudice prevents them from seeing something truly beautiful.


Tamara said...

Addressing every thing we ever overhear would be exhausting. I wouldn't have expected you to respond to that.

The whole joking about difference is old -- and evidence of someone's lack of creativity.

Anonymous said...

You are not obligated to educate ALL the fools ALL the time, Dave.

This time, it was clearly someone else's job. I'll bet you anything that one of the men in line DID have a gay son or daughter or relative, or was gay himself. It was HIS job this time around, not yours. That he did not pick up the ball speaks to HIS own issues about teachable moments.


wendy said...

I can feel that moment...the moment when the "joke" is made and I know they are making fun of me, of who I am as a human being. It's a mistake to think of this as being an issue related to "sexual orientation". The term itself diminishes the depth of who we are. I am not a lesbian only when I'm having sex...I'm a lesbian all day every day. It is not just my "sexual" orientation, it's the orientation of my heart, of who I love. My life is mine, in its entirety, all the time.
And so I know that moment when suddenly someone makes a joke that causes my heart to race and that tells me that my whole "self" is somehow judged to be less.
I'm sorry you and Joe were there to hear it.

CJ said...

Agreed. I feel the same way when I'm in public and they use the "R" word or "that's so gay" as insults. What if my client and his mother are standing in the lobby or my friends Debbie and Annette?