We’re All Like That Sometimes

The recent guarded ‘coming out’ by actress Jodie Foster and the mixture of reactions to it together with the predictable ‘hot or not’ type rating of Jodie’s supposed partner (in much the same way as Camilla Parker Bowles gets comments on her own subjective physical appearance) is an irritating reminder of why women of Jodie’s generation and before may have preferred not to discuss their personal lives.Keeping it ambiguous may have seemed the preferable option (it might even have been exactly how they felt).

It is, after all, not anybody else’s business and not connected to being an actress. But we all know that our personal lives frequently are an issue in social situations and at work where office politics and personal prejudices can sometimes come to bear.

It’s not specifically a gay or lesbian issue per se, it’s just part of that whole married or not, kids or not, sexism, ageism, racism, disability stuff that many of us have to grapple with in life.

After all we often learn in the playground that many will latch onto any perceived personal difference to use as a weapon against us whether it’s physical appearance, skin colour, clothing, disability etc.

Coming out can be an awkward process at any age and for some they find they come out all the time in various social situations rather than just the once (“hey bring your husband along”, (or wife if a man) …followed by putting the record…er…straight once again.

This ‘in or out?’ game can be applied equally well to single people, couples, childless couples, disabled partner, large age differences etc. We can all find ourselves having to measure up to somebody else’s theoretical ideal (woah, I was getting dangerously close to a Rhona Cameron “we’re all like that” type rant there).

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5 thoughts on “We’re All Like That Sometimes

  1. Yes, very true. It is often awkward. I tend to err on the side of caution about such things and let people believe what they prefer to believe. But there comes a point where you dig a hole for yourself that gets deeper and deeper as people are assuming one thing when the opposite is true. And yet, it just doesn’t matter at all really – except that it does to them and you end up looking a bit daft after a while when you end up turning up somewhere with someone who happens to be different in some way to what they have always assumed. Oh I don’t know. I have become the master (or mistress maybe!) of avoiding personal pronouns, even on my blog, and half the time I wonder why I bother. Why should anyone care? But people do judge differently if you are do not conform to the “norm” and make all sorts of assumptions and generalisations and I don’t want to give them the opportunity to do that. I am just me after all.

    Ooops – I have said rather a lot and absolutely nothing at all!

    I shall shut up and go!

    Stuff (Em) Replied: Lol-I know what you’re trying to say. Sometimes trying to fit in , particularly when young can mean not rushing to offer up certain personal details that we worry might mark us out for possible exclusion from any social group (early experiences might tell us not to give some people any possible ‘ammunition’).Even now I don’t rush to spill my entire personal history and personal details when I meet new people (or even in my blog) though don’t shy away from being open and honest when the situation warrants. As you say people often assume certain things about us. These days people who meet me individually seem to assume I’m a wife and mother in a way that I very clearly didn’t fit that mold/stereotype when younger (maybe that’s just an age thing and chit chat social shorthand).

  2. I was picked on at school because I was tall. The teachers saw me as someone in whom they could have confidence (i.e. could be put in charge of others) and this made things worse.

    “Coming out” is something you can do if whatever it is you are “coming out” about is not obvious and can be hidden. If you are the “wrong” race or the “wrong” shape or size, you don’t have to “come out” because you aren’t “in” in the first place.

    I agree that people ought not to have to decide whether to “come out”. They should be able to be as they are without considering whether or not to hide it. There isn’t an easy answer to this.

    I think we should all resist prejudice wherever is appears and whoever the victim is. Only by proving to prejudiced people that they are a mean minority can prejudice finally be rolled back.
    Stuff (Em) Replied: Hi SilverTiger. As you say those areas where people feel compelled to ‘come out’ such as declaring sexuality are clearly different to disability,body difference etc where any prejudice is linked directly to how you look or sound. As you say there’s this ‘fitting in’ arbitrary scale that we measure ourselves and others against.Well put.

  3. So true. I’m gay, veggie and a redhead as well as having tattoos and drinking real ale out of a pint glass. Oh and I used to ride a motorbike. But the picture that that paints for most people doesn’t actually quite fit the reality!!

    People naturally tell themselves stories, it’s how we as humans cope with life. If we don’t know a lot about a person, maybe because like Jodie they are very private, we seem to feel the need to fill in the gaps! Unfortunately that inevitably means that they tend to get quite a bit wrong… it’s not necessarily prejudice, it’s often just ignorance. So for me it comes down to education again!!

    I can’t blame Jodie for not coming out earlier, even though an awful lot of us had a sneaking suspicion…. 🙂
    Stuff(Em) replied: Ah veggie prejudice.Not sure I’ve experienced this much other than airlines assuming my diet is so bland that I want super spicy food slop and oddly enough in my recent hospital stay in which I can’t remember the last time so many people expressed surprise that I was a veggie.I felt bad for the pure vegetarian Hindus as there was not much on the menu to accommodate. I agree that many of us seem to want to tick off certain boxes so we can safely slot people into a pre defined stereotypes (x=x=y).You’re right about education. Sometimes I feel it’s just coming into contact with difference that informs people. Many years ago (OK a lifetime ago) I worked part time in a secondary school which was a quite well off state school with amazingly (unlike my own school experience) only one student in the entire school with non-white skin. There were however a disproportionate number of disabled students compared to the other state schools in the area (the school was fairly new so had been built with disabled access in mind and so many with physical and mobility problems gained a place there by default). I can’t say I ever saw any real prejudice towards the disabled students. They were all mates together with the able bodied students but the one non-white kid went through hell because his singular minority meant that so few students would get to know him on a personal basis unless they were in his class and so certain ingrained attitudes would be retained amongst many of the students who maybe had no non white friends.I guess it’s an argument for familiarity and a personal contact with difference breeding tolerance through personal experience?(forgive the gobbledegook-speak) Mind you stereotyping may well be around forever.

  4. No one “chooses” to be gay, and it’s not a “lifestyle.” I didn’t choose it and Jodie Foster didn’t choose it … just as heterosexuals don’t choose to be heterosexual. Who would voluntarily choose judgement and persecution???

    I always respected Jodie’s desire for privacy, and I so admire her for moving beyond it and sharing more of herself with the world. Thanks Jodie!!! Your one simple statement acknowledging Cydney also acknowledges me and every other gay person on the planet.
    Stuff(Em) Replied: Hi Mary. I couldn’t agree more.I’m sure they’ll continue to be fiercely private (No Hello/OK magazine ‘life at home with Jodie, Cydney and the kids’ type photo story methinks) but a high profile declaration (of love) such as Jodie’s hopefully helps others who may sometimes struggle to be themselves in their own lives.

  5. How true the ‘Guardians’ words are in relation to coming out “Non-celebrity lesbians and gay men have to do it every time they meet someone new.”

    I’d got used to everyone around me knowing about my individuality and was very comfortable with it, until last week, I had to come out to three people which threw me back a bit. They were all very positive experiences but I think that I too have reached the age where people make assumptions that I’m straight and have 2.5 kids at home, after all older lesbians don’t exist – do they!?!

    Good on yer Jodie.
    Stuff(Em) Replied: Repeatedly coming out can be irksome sometimes. Thanks for your most welcome contribution. I didn’t catch the Grauniad article you referenced but tracked it down here. Thanks again.

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