The scene: post-conference, sat in an airport, one dark winter’s morning. I’m casually chatting to one of the other speakers about our mutual hate of being sat in an airport this early. His phone rings and he excuses himself to answer it.
My German is pretty rusty, but good enough to understand “…Yes, I am at the airport… Yes, I’ll make the flight… I have my passport… Do you want any duty free? OK… I love you.”
I smile at him – I know that call.
“Ach!” he says to me, “My husband is always worried that I won’t make my flight. I always have to tell him it’ll be ok.”
“My wife’s much the same,” I say. And we bond for a few minutes like old married men kvetching about how much we’re loved by our partners.
And, then it strikes me. This dude… is married to a dude! He’s one of those gays I hear about so often in the media!!! OMG!!!!! And he’s just casually dropped that bombshell!!!!!
When I was a teenager – and even at university – coming out was A. Big. Deal. It was emotionally fraught, with promises not to tell anyone else, the heavy burden of a secret, a tentative moment of fragility.
And now… Look, I know the world isn’t perfect – and LGBT+ rights need to be fought for and defended – but at times it feels so much better than it ever did.
I’m proud to wear an rainbow lanyard at work. I want my friends and colleagues to know that there’s no room for queerphobia in the workplace.
I’m not going to say “some of my best friends are gay” (although they are). And I’m not going to pretend that coming out every day is easy. And there’s always a steady drip of bad news about somewhere in the world trying to roll back rights.
But I’ve lost count of the times a casual acquaintance or colleague has mentioned their same-sex partner, or their Facebook status has suddenly indicated that their “flatmate” is more than just a friend, or that they have a preferred pronoun.
Maybe I have a trustworthy face. Maybe the people who come out to me are festooned with privilege and don’t fear a backlash. Maybe as I get older, the people I interact with are more mature.
Maybe it’s terrifying every single time and I’m just cluelessly oblivious?
Anyway. Here’s to all my friends and co-workers and acquaintances and people I’ve just met at a party – and anyone reading this – who has thought I was worthy of sharing with: