Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Demographics of Our Personal Bubble

The monthly work meeting rolled around this morning, the one in which all the project directors and artifact analysts go around the conference room talking about what we've accomplished in the past month. It is almost as painful as going around the Thanksgiving table, but in a different way. More specifically, in an agonizingly boring way. I find different ways to amuse myself. Sometimes I doodle, sometimes I time the two most long-winded people to see if they'll suck up a quarter of the 60 minutes allotted to the entire group yet again this month. Today I did a highly accurate demographic analysis impervious to the absence of maybe five of the regular attendees.

Of the seventeen people in the room, we had five men and twelve women. One of the five guys is gay, two of the women are for sure and a third pings strongly. One person of the seventeen is a semi-observant Jew, but as far as I know none of the others currently adheres to a religious affiliation; at least five of these are strongly opposed to organized religion of any strain. Ten are married, two are in committed but non-state-sanctioned relationships. Four that I know of have been divorced. Nine have kids. Two are vegetarian. All have at least a bachelor's degree; six hold a master's, and eight have doctorates. Everyone votes Democratic, as far as I know.

Spending 40-odd hours a week in this environment, and then spending a significant chunk of my weekend time with my soccer team (5 dykes out of 15 women on the roster), at Bookman's, or at Trader Joe's (helloooooo) means that most of my daily interactions take place within a very progressive sphere. My experience with homophobia has largely been voyeuristic, reading stuff in the paper or online, wondering what it would be like to face bigots in real time, separated only by the air we both breathe. Secondhand accounts, pounding out fuming responses to comments on blogs and online newspapers... my anger is real and feels visceral enough, but still I sense the separation between my theoretical sparring with anonymous posters via pixels on the screen and a face-to-face confrontation.

In my world--despite what my apparent fixation on gay issues for this blog would suggest--I think of myself as just another person. Teh Gay is a part of my identity, but it's allowed to languish pretty far down on the list of attributes. To borrow a vile phrase from the bigots, my sexuality isn't shoved into my face by people who would define me solely on the basis of who I happen to fall in love with, who would reduce my entire being down to a specific sex act based on my wardrobe or the way I carry myself or the fact that, as a straight friend once pointed out, I don't get a lot of attention from the guys at the Ace Hardware because I walk in looking like I "know how to do projects." Got no experience with harassment in the workplace. The home loan officer didn't bat an eye when my partner and I sat down to sign the mortgage papers together. The lady at the gym approved my request for a family membership and looked at me like I was weird for doubting that same-gender heads of household qualify as a family under their policies.

So I worry, sometimes, that my bubble has built a false sense of security in my head (similar to this couple in Wisconsin). I felt it with each new state constitutional amendment that passed in November, felt it for sure when Prop 107 here in Arizona was defeated by a much closer margin than I had anticipated. The naive question keeps bumping up against the inside of my skull: who are these people? How can anyone still be so mean-spirited? I will find out, I'm sure, sooner or later. No bubble lasts forever.

1 comment:

Damien said...

At least we can enjoy this bubble while it lasts, though. All we can do for the rest of the community is offer our support and consolation to help them deal with their abuse...