Well, before we go on, I suppose I ought to get this out in the open: I'm not entirely straight. Is that a surprise to anyone? No. Good. Let's carry on.
There are things I don't really talk about very often. I remember a post that elmyra made a few months back. In it she talked of queer rights and asked "Are you doing your bit?" and I was forced to conclude that I wasn't doing as much as I could.
See, my logic has always been that I will act as if everything in my life is completely normal and unremarkable. To me, it is. If something is relevant to the conversation at hand, then I will mention it; if it's not relevant, I won't make a big deal out of it. This is similar to the fact that I have brown hair. It is not something I hide, but nor is it something I shout from the rooftops. This is how I feel that my gender and sexuality should be. Just a basic fact of life of who I am. Of course, it isn't that simple.
I remember particularly one incident from several years back. That was back whe I was still active on Usenet. I was a regular and respected poster on rec.games.roguelike.adom. One day, I was making a post there along the lines of "you know you've been playing to much ADoM when..." It was some vaguely amusing anecdote about how I'd been doing something completely unrelated to ADoM and had it brought to mind anyway. I forget the exact details. Anyway, at some point in this post, I mentioned the phrase "my girlfriend".
There was someone who responded to this in a most put out fashion. He was quick to point out that he didn't mind that I was gay, of course, but was affronted that I was so eager to shove it down his throat. See, in his world, the only reason why I would possibly ever want to mention my girlfriend was if I was making a big song and dance over being a lesbian. It quite simply never occured to him that I might want to just mention an important part of my personal life in passing because it was important to me, or because it was relevant to the issue at hand. And I'm quite certain he wouldn't have noticed anything untowards if I'd said "boyfriend" or "partner" in place of "girlfriend".
Fortunately for me, many of the other people on the group recognised exactly that point and were quick to jump to my aid, but the incident stayed with me. To many people, being gay is not a crime, but ever wanting to talk about it or in any way display it where others can see is. You're fine, so long as you keep quiet and stay hidden. The sorts of things that most people justifiably take for granted can be off limits.
And of course, this happened in a community of geeks (I mean really, is it possible to get geekier than discussing roguelike games on Usenet without involving a Star Fleet uniform and a pair of fake pointy ears?) and geeks, in my experience, tend to be tolerant, not out of any sort of moral or ethical conviction, but because they just don't care. Worrying about someone's sexuality just gives you less time to be concerned over more important things like their OS choice or their collection of polyhedral dice. Yet even among geeks, there was still someone who spoke up to put me in my place. Sure, it all ended well, but things like that are tiring.
Essentially, every time I open my mouth to in some way reveal myself as queer to people who don't already know, then I'm setting myself up for something potentially unpleasant. Of course, often it doesn't come. A lot of the time, people are fine and accepting and really couldn't give a crap. But there's always the possibility there. And me? I'm just human. My energy reserves are limited. I don't always have the strength or the will to fight the good fight. When it's just people who aren't important to me, especially ones I'm not likely to see again, it's often easier to just avoid the issue entirely. They don't need to know. Why chance it?
Of course, it provides its own reason. Queer people of all varieties have to go about their lives as if everything is normal so that other people can see that it is normal. I believe that only when something is perceived as unremarkable can it truly be accepted. This is why I do my best to never try to hide any aspect of who I am. I don't always manage, but I try.
Also, in the spirit of this post by wearemany (who I don't know, but a couple of people linked to) if there's anything you want to know but have been afraid to ask, go ahead and ask here. I expect you all to be accepting; I do not expect you all to be knowledgable. I particularly encourage questions about anything transgender related, or anything that is specifically about me. If you have any questions about any general gay type stuff, then I'll do my best to answer those too. And if I can't, for one reason or another (my experiences regarding sexuality or all heavily influenced by gender related stuff), then I'm quite sure I can find someone who will be able to answer for you. If you feel more comfortable that way, I've temporarily enabled anonymous comments and disabled IP logging.