I imagine* that by the time you’re gay parents in the suburbs, coming out of the closet is sort of a not issue. At least, in regards to other parents and neighbors. At the very least, it seems likely that by the time kids coming over to your house to play with your child, their parents already know that so-and-so has two moms or two dads. The fact that they are bringing their offspring over anyway means that they have decided that’s not a dealbreaker.
Apparently, despite the complaints of some non-poly Millennial parents that everyone assumes they are sleeping with their roommates, it is possible for someone to reach the point of bringing their kids to our house without having jumped to [all the right] conclusions about our living arrangement. And suddenly I find myself realizing this in the middle of a conversation where I have to decide on the fly just how much to reveal as I answer questions about how we came to all be living together.
On the one hand, we are not closeted in the neighborhood. If I don’t lay it all out on the table now, will this mom feel lied to when she eventually figures it out? On the other hand, her kids are currently in the middle of a game with mine in my house. If her first reaction is horror and she scoops them up and whisks them away how will that affect MY kid (who is already having a difficult time making friends)? With seconds to decide I dodge and redirect and immediately face the regret and anxiety of how and when I’m going to have to actually answer her.
I understand and acknowledge that we are exceptionally privileged to be able to pass as normal, white monogamous heterosexual couples when we need or want to. And yet, I wonder if life may not be easier in some ways if the closet wasn’t an option and we never had to worry about when or how to come out of it; never be startled to realize that we were in it when we never meant to be and trying to figure out when it’s safe to leave. I wish, sometimes, that people could just look at me and know exactly what kind of freak I am and just decide whether or not they’re willing to be friends before we ever talk.
Maybe that’s why I’m a 32-year-old, middle class, suburban housewife who still dresses like a punk teenager. It’s the flimsy armor of “Hey, you should have realized I was weird when you met me.” But we are a specific flavor of weird that a lot of people still aren’t used to and can still have strange knee jerk reactions to. And it was a lot easier to have an “I don’t give a fuck what you think” attitude before I had a kindergartener who just wants people to play with.
* I fully acknowledge I could be very wrong about this and I am coming from a place of privilege.