These days, Gentle Reader, I wear my identity on my sleeve. Even the most severely restrained outfit is – at the very least – adorned by a modest brooch. I take my wardrobe very seriously, and though my unique sense of style isn’t to everyone’s taste, it leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am very, very gay.
This has not always been the case.
There’s a concept known as “passing privilege” – it’s when a member of a disadvantaged or marginalized group “passes” as one of the dominant majority, and uses this protective camouflage to conceal themselves. This can be a problem – it’s one of the many reasons that bisexual erasure’s a thing – but it can be a distinct advantage. It can save lives.
I worked in concrete for a number of years. Unsurprisingly, construction sites are a super-butch environment. On the job, I had to completely bury myself – erase my identity, be one of the boys. I had to pretend to like beer, boobs, and ballgames, and try to out-macho any cocksucker I came across.
I wasn’t very good at it. I gave it my best shot – I swaggered, I swore, I studied straight boys in the wild, and aped their behavior to no avail. Something would always give me away – I wouldn’t notice the hot chick walking by, or I’d use the wrong word – something like lavender or splendid. I’d forget details about my made-up girlfriend. In short, I was back in the closet at work, and no one was even fooled. I like to think they appreciated the effort.
Why would I do something like that – why would I try to pass as straight? Safety. Straight guys – straight-acting guys – don’t get killed in the men’s room for, um, being in the men’s room. Straight guys don’t have to constantly analyze their speech, their unconscious manners and mannerisms, to try to figure out why that dude is sneering and oh god he’s coming over and –
There are all different sorts of passing, though, and most confer a certain security – we just can’t all attain that imagined ideal.
I, for one, am glad I can’t pass. I spent far too long making far too much effort to fail at something I’m not particularly interested in. I’d far rather be exactly who I am, at all times, and if anybody tries anything, whip out my inner irate duchess.
No, I don’t pass, Gentle Reader – and I don’t want to.