Gay

Coming out in taxis

In just the space of a couple of days this month, I’ve had to live up to my own standards around what it means to be an out gay man in 2019.

God, that sounds intense.

What I mean is, in the face of the easy way out – going along with the flow of conversation with a stranger who assumes I’m straight – I faced up to the discomfort of being open about my sexuality.

I’ve previously explained that ‘coming out’ isn’t so much an event as an ongoing process. Every official who wants to know the details of your next of kin. Every form looking for your marital status. Every stranger at a party who asks about my ‘wife’.

In fact, every new person I meet represents both the opportunity and challenge of being true to myself. So hurray for coming out parties, but that’s just the start of it.

Over the years, I’ve become quite blasé about these kinds of conversations. Socially, I’m totally open when someone asks, or when I have to correct their assumptions. With clients, I’m slightly more circumspect, but would never lie about my personal circumstances. By now, virtually all my regular clients know I’m married to a man.

That said, in some contexts, I often keep myself to myself. Dealing with taxi drivers is one such context.

In my experience – as someone who is constantly on planes, in trains or trying to get a taxi to one or the other – taxi drivers fall into one of two camps: those who keep their views to themselves and just want to drive you from A to B; and those who revel in having a debate and make sure you know what their core beliefs are.

This month, in Dublin, I had two taxi drivers who challenged my preconceptions. Both times, I found myself getting into their cars pretty tired and just keen to get going. Both were the chatty, opinionated types and we soon got onto the topic of relationships. I wasn’t in the mood and, after letting them refer to my ‘wife and kids’ a couple of times, I corrected them with “Actually, I don’t have kids – and I’m married to a man”.

Gulp.

I wasn’t in the mood for bigotry but nor was I in the mood for a frosty and long journey through rush hour traffic in Dublin. Half expecting a smart-arse response, all I got in each case was a typical Dublin:

  1. “Fair play. My brother-in-law is gay” and

  2. “Good man.”

Nothing more than that. The conversations moved on, to Brexit (vomit) and Irish politics respectively. I was all braced for nothing.

On the other hand, they could just as easily have turned on me and given me a hard time, turned their “religious guns” on me or just made the drive a very frosty and uncomfortable one. That’s the thing: you never know.

And that’s what’s tiring. Exhausting even. But so important. So, yeah. I’m gay.

Next?

“Don’t you dare attempt to drive me down O’Connell Street. We’ll take the Port Tunnel. I’m no tourist…”

(Photo by Luke Tanis on Unsplash)

6 comments on “Coming out in taxis

  1. It’s an ongoing process for sure…
    For the record, my Civil Partner and I have been together for nearly 30 years – the anniversary is in May this year – and I’m pretty relaxed about being out in most, if possibly not quite all, contexts. I tend to take the view that it’s mostly an irrelevant detail (and I don’t need to know that anyone else is e.g. heterosexual!); these days honesty is the best policy without needing to be ‘in your face’ about it. But even so people will sometimes surprise you.
    A sometime colleague at the office came up to me the other day and very sheepishly admitted that he might perhaps owe me an apology. When I asked why, he admitted that “I might have accidentally ‘outed’ you to a couple of the guys at and they were a bit surprised about it”. I think he was a bit taken aback when I was intensely relaxed and told him not to worry about it at all – I honestly thought everyone who remotely mattered already knew, and it’s a very open environment (media company) anyway!
    I remember my original coming out at work, too – over a quarter of a century ago. it was in an open plan office and there were maybe 70 people within earshot. I was having an argument with a colleague on another bank of desks… it got a bit heated and he eventually asked, loudly, “Your partner IS female, isn’t she?”
    There was a sudden dead, stunned silence and a collective intake of breath when I, caught in the heat of the moment, replied loudly “Actually? No!” … in fairness, the colleague in question went “oh. OK!”, and there was never a problem with him or anyone else as far as I realised, but it was certainly a rather more public coming out than I had ever intended!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the multitude of benefits in being Deaf is that whenever I have to engage a taxi, I have no ability to communicate. They can chat away all they want but I’m oblivious to their banter. Naked hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • ethnicolor

      Lols! Not to trivialise being deaf, but being to able to avoid taxi-driver conversations is… kind of? …a benefit?

      Like

  3. ethnicolor

    Definitely a benefit of, shall we say, “keeping a-pace with Father Time” is the opportunities it affords one to live to the adage “to thine own self, be true.” It might be different for young people coming out today, but when I came out in the mid-90s (age 25 or so) it was still a bit of a shocker for some people. I can’t actually remember when I last told a stranger I was gay, but I think it was a long time ago – and it’s just not an issue any more, certainly not for me.

    That said, out of the blue it almost happened today, and (surprisingly) at work. I’ve been in the same job for 15 years, and deliberately outed myself on Day One. Nothing negative every experienced. However we have a new temporary worker onsite and just this morning we were chatting before a meeting. She mentioned in passing, “you know what it’s like, with a wife and kids…” and I was about to say “Oh, I don’t have kids and I actually have a husband, not a wife,” but at that moment the meeting began and I never got back to it. It actually skipped my mind until reading this post!

    Actually, I think the only negative response I ever got was in a hotel here in my adoptive home town of Kilkenny. This was 20 years ago, and before we moved here permanently. We were visiting for a weekend, we checked in at the hotel, and the receptionist (female) looked at us and said, *very* defensively; “You told me on the phone you wanted a double room!” We said “Yes… that’s correct…” And the poor lady just didn’t know where to look! We can hardly have been their first gay couple?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My partner looks completely straight. He gets it all the time. I’m probably obviously camp. What I would say is I once was dealing with builders on a job I was doing and this really butch workman asked me for my phone number. I wrote it on a post it note in the shape of lips.
    He was very nice!
    JP

    Liked by 1 person

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