On our anniversary (July 18), we went on a dinner sunset cruise here in Erie. It wasn’t fancy, but it was nice. They asked for people to share birthdays and anniversaries so I impulsively told them it was our 19th anniversary.
Laura looked at me and sighed.
She was right.
I asked the server if it would be cool for them to say it and she said “absolutely” and walked off.
The captain opened up strong with a “Tonight celebrating their 19th anniversary is Sue and ….” <silence> Laura?” No one clapped. No one.
When he read the next couple (six years), everyone clapped and continued. He then read the list in reverse order. We were the closing act, the longest anniversary and again, the clapping stopped.
It wasn’t a big deal. No one got hurt, no slurs were directed at us, we still enjoyed the cruise. One family took our photos and we took theirs. I didn’t feel unsafe or unwelcome. I felt unwanted and excluded, but not by people who matter to me. But I also knew that Erie has nondiscrimination protections in place so we weren’t in danger of losing our dinner.
Still. I decided to blog about this after we went to get ice cream tonight. I am wearing my Yinz is a Gender Neutral Pronoun tee. And I felt that coldness again. People moving around us, trying to figure out if Laura was a girl or a boy, an adult or a kid (she’s very short) and did my shirt offer them a clue?
It was a vibe many other queer folx know. And I blame myself for wearing the shirt – I specifically left all my other message attire at home but threw this in because it is so soft and comfy.
I blame myself for wearing a tee shirt to get ice cream in Erie.
I blame myself to including our anniversary in an anniversary acknowledgement on an event we spent a lot of money to attend.
Welcome to queer life in Pennsylvania 2022. I fell into a trap of thinking my privilege would not just protect me, but give me entrance in these small things people take for granted. I was foolish. It wasn’t a painful lesson, but it was sobering.
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