Month: July 2015

How to talk to gay people (a primer)

Opening

Firstly, say hello.  Similar to straight people, most gay people begin their conversations with a greeting.  Common variants are “hello,” “hi,” “yo,” or very rarely, “greetings and salutations.”

Before you proceed, check for eye contact.  Eye contact is a common signal among gay people that a conversation has begun.  If you have not succeeded in making eye contact, DO NOT PROCEED.  As a conversation for gay people is an encounter involving two or more people (i.e. more than just you), you have no conversation if you have failed to gain their attention.  Don’t take it personally and simply try again another time, just like you would treat a missed connection with a straight person.

Next steps

Next, you may ask any of several small-talk type questions, such as “How do you know (insert mutual friend here)?” Or “How long are you visiting the area?” or even “What lovely weekend weather we had!  Were you able to get outside?”  Most gay people are reasonably well-versed in social customs, in a proportion likely similar to straight people.  That’s why they are called “social customs,” because people who are members of society are generally aware of them.  Even gay members of society.

Caution: Similar to straight relationships, gay relationships may be complex or a sensitive subject, so it may be a bit forward to ask directly about their partner or their family. Instead, share a comment or a story about your own significant other and if they want to share, they will respond in kind. You may then follow up with more specific questions about their family.

Caution: As with many straight people, politics and religion are generally not good topics for small talk.  Even if you think you’re safe with a comment like, “How ‘bout that Supreme Court marriage decision?  I bet you’re super excited!” be aware that, like straight people, gay people have nuanced and complicated views.  Respect their depth and diversity of thought just as you would a straight person’s thoughts.

After that, anything goes! Be sure to explore in more depth any shared interests or other things you have in common. You may already know how to do this from the conversations you have had with straight people.

Conclusion

Finally, say goodbye before you go. Similar to straight people, gay people like their conversations to have a definite end.

TL/DR: You talk to a gay person the same way you talk to a straight person.

Bonus guide: How to talk to transgender people – Go back to the beginning of this post.  Replace every usage of “gay” with “transgender.”

TL/DR: You talk to a transgender person the same way you talk to a straight person.

Note: This silliness inspired by a piece advising us all on how to convert “the gays” to Christianity.  The piece was titled “How to talk to the gays,” and this post was the first place my brain went.

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If you look between the buildings, you can see the lake.

If you look between the buildings, you can see the lake.

This ^^ right here is the view from where I’m sitting this week.  It’s sunny, it’s over 90 degrees outside, and I am desperately trying to come up with a business reason why I need to go jump in the lake.  Bonus points if you can help me come up with a business reason why I need to go skinny dipping in the lake.

Any ideas?

I fail at being a girl

Trigger warning: Feet.  Because feet are gross.

Ewwwwww

Ewwwwww

This week I am commuting downtown for work.  I’ve done it enough times that I’m generally comfortable with what I’m doing, where I’m going, and other lifestyle choices, but as I look at the people around me I still feel so jarringly out of place at the ease with which everyone alongside me comes and goes.

I’m a lot better than I used to be – I used to gaze up in awe at all the HUGE buildings, the likes of which I had only seen in pictures before.  Now I walk briskly, cynical gaze downward with the best of ‘em.

While I am cynically gazing downward, I see other people’s feet.  They are kinda right there in my field of vision so I can’t avoid it.  And I notice that the vast majority of women are dressed for their destination rather than the walk.  Women are wearing these shoes –

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

or these shoes –

Adorable!

or even these shoes –

Stylish!

Stylish!

But not many people are wearing these shoes –

Practical!

Practical!

And if they are wearing sneakers, they are wearing an outfit with pants so it doesn’t look too obnoxious.  I have yet to see another person like me wearing a summery black sleeveless shirt paired with a breezy black-and white floral skirt, rounded out with sneakers.  Or today’s choice of a royal blue sundress paired expertly with – you guessed it! – sneakers.

I know it looks horrible but I’m at a point where I am done sacrificing functionality for style; and I have learned from experience that any footwear less supportive than sneakers results in painful feet and swollen joints.  Especially the flat-soled sandals.  When I see women not so much walking but galumping around, carelessly slapping their feet on the ground, my knees hurt just seeing them.

But my real concern is when I get where I’m going, I have to walk through the reception area and down the halls of my law firm client still wearing my obnoxious garb.  By the time I have a chance to put my backpack down, dig out my real shoes and switch over, I have been there at least five or ten minutes and I have likely been introduced to one or more people by this point.  Yay for first impressions!  So important in a client service job.

99.9% of the time I am totally fine owning my more tomboyish self, but situations like this make me thing to myself, “If only I were more skilled at being a girl.”

Why abortion is even a thing

This post is not a direct answer to Broadblogs’s comment on my previous post, but it is inspired by her comment.  She blogs about feminism and gender relations here.

I have noticed that there tend to be a few distinct issues that tend to get blended together when people discuss abortion, and I wanted to take the time to break them out a bit.  Let me begin with a caveat that I’m speaking very generally here, so I’m not going to be able to cover all cases, all situations, or all people.

Generally speaking, abortion happens because of unplanned pregnancy.  How does that happen?

What causes unplanned pregnancy

  • Primarily people having sex. Consensual or otherwise.
  • Lack of contraception access. Usually this is where the blame for abortion gets pinned, but strictly speaking a lack of contraception (plus people having sex) only leads to unplanned pregnancies.  I don’t so much mean logistical access, since contraception really is widely available; rather, I’m referring to cultural access.  Since I made up the term (so far as I know) I’ll explain: a lack of cultural access would be, for example, a young woman who didn’t get anything resembling real sex ed, who might have heard of birth control but might not really know what the various risks and failure rates are for various methods.  All the logistical access in the world won’t fix the cultural access issues, unfortunately.
  • Contraception failure (plus people having sex).

So you have an unplanned pregnancy.  Congratulations!  Now what?  Are you going to keep it?  Let someone adopt it?  Abort it?

What causes abortion

  • Pro-lifers shaming women for being single moms.
  • Pro-choicers shaming women for being stupid enough to get pregnant.
  • Coercion from partners / parents / others.
  • Individual choice for reasons ranging from the serious to the trivial. Yes, some women do choose abortion for trivial reasons; there will always be people who make serious choices for trivial reasons, especially if there’s no particular obstacle to that specific choice.
  • A culture that is generally not very welcoming to new life, even in the best of circumstances. How many families struggle to make it work even when they get pregnant on purpose with a very wanted child?  The struggle is magnified the further you get from this ideal.

All that being said, abortion still wouldn’t be a thing without a very widespread but very incorrect assumption, which brings me to –

What enables abortion

  • The belief that the right to life does not begin for humans until …. ? Depending on which pro-choice person you are talking to, the right to life does not begin until the 12th week of pregnancy, the 20th week, the 36th week, the day of birth (as long as some part of the baby is inside the mother), a few weeks postpartum, or at a particular point I didn’t mention.

Science makes it abundantly clear that a new individual begins to be present at conception; at that point there is a genetically unique individual that has never existed before in the history of the world and will never exist again.  No other bright line exists for when the right to life begins, and no other point in development makes a logical bright line.

If this fact were universally recognized, and assuming we all agree that it’s wrong to forcibly end someone’s life, elective abortion would become unacceptable and virtually disappear.  The average person would no more choose abortion than they would choose to kill their toddler.  Of course there would still be medically necessary abortions, because even when you recognize that you have two patients in front of you, sometimes you simply can’t save at least one of them, but those abortions would no longer be of the hack-n-slash variety.

How do we reduce abortion?

The thought process that enables abortions is frankly the easiest thing to address, but even that is very difficult in practice for a wide variety of reasons, probably primarily the fact that all of the causes of abortion are still present.  This impacts the general willingness to listen, as important as it is to continue to spread the word on this front.

Although I have seen some progress in pro-lifers fixing their attitudes toward single parents, unfortunately women are still generally in the position of having to give pro-lifers AND pro-choicers the finger when they say, “No, abortion is unacceptable and I won’t do it.  Period.”

An unrepeatable miracle 

No moralizing, no preaching, no “sky is falling” … none of that is effective anyway. Just … think about this for a bit. That’s all I ask.

karenwriteshere

This is quite a departure from my usual “doodles”. I drew this today as my heart ached from the latest news about the desecration of the purest, most innocent of all human life. It is but the icing on top of many other abominable practices to which our culture has become desensitized. I’ve said much about this on other channels, and I don’t intend to elaborate in this space.

For now let’s pause to simply behold the miracle, the self-evident beauty that is every human being.

The human being is single, unique, and unrepeatable, someone thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by name.

–Pope John Paul II

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