I know a lot of you are straight. That's a numbers game. There are just more of you out there. I'm grateful you read. I'm even more grateful for those of you who act as allies - who vote, speak, listen, and advocate on behalf of families like mine, on behalf of children who identify as LGBT+, on behalf of those who don't fit traditional conceptions of gender.
Here's my confession: given the current political climate, a small part of me (very small, but not nonexistent) is a little regretful that I've registered my same-sex marriage with the US government. There's a pubic record available to prove that I'm gay. There's also, of course, this blog.
I wasn't always so forthcoming. I was in the closet for a long time. It was easier when I wasn't seeing anyone. It was hard when I was in love.
Even now, I don't come out at all of the work locations I go to. I've learned to avoid discussions about my marital status, not use singular or gendered pronouns about my spouse, try not to discuss if I live alone or who I've dated or what I find attractive. As a lipstick lesbian, it's pretty easy to avoid arousing suspicion, at least at first.
Every once in a while, someone tells me that it shouldn't matter if I'm gay, and that I should just keep it to myself. And I think how hard it is to keep an entire sexual orientation a secret. No, seriously. It's tricky.
So straight readers, straight allies, who read this, I'm challenging you: for a week, try to avoid mentioning anything that would give away your sexual orientation to any new people you meet.Don't talk about dates you've been on, what characteristics you find sexy, your spouse or significant other, your wedding, your anniversary, your children (if it would give away something about your spouse), why you relocated/took a certain job (if it pertains to a significant other), or where you went on vacation (if you went with a significant other). Fill out any forms that ask about your marital status correctly, of course, but make a mental note of the number of times you do so that it would be more complicated for same-sex couples. Don't like or share any articles or pictures on social media that could give away your sexual orientation.
Take notes as you do it on what is easy, what is hard, what is surprising. And then at the end, share your thoughts on social media and tag them with #straightpersonclosetchallenge (if any of my Trans friends have a version that could be the #cispersonclosetchallenge let me know).
My hope is that the anxiety that members of the LGBT+ community experience on a regular basis becomes more palpable and understandable, that you become more invested in supporting local housing and employment legal protections for the LGBT+ community, and that you also reflect on which questions you ask yourself at the outset of a relationship that might inadvertently be "outing" people.
The good news for you is that because of straight privilege, if you fail at this challenge, you most likely won't be fired or asked to leave your place of worship or evicted or physically threatened or blacklisted because of your sexual orientation.
Nobody should be.