My wife and I moved into our dream house in August of 2020, after we had been looking since 2018, but everything that fit our wants & needs got swiped out from under us (one person got the house because they were willing to put down 80% of the asking price…in CASH. Who does that? PFFT!). Everything else was wrong for one reason or another (too small, needed too much work, WTF rooms, too far from public transportation, etc.).
Then it happened, we found the house we wanted on a cul-de-sac with huge oak trees lining the street — it had a driveway, a basement, and a pool! We were both in heaven!
When we moved in, though, we realized QUICKLY that we were the only queer family on the block. Likely in the entire neighborhood. Our previous neighborhood had a lot of renters in it, so we saw all sorts of families — everyone from queer, poly, interracial, single parents, multi-generational — honestly, you name it and our old house was on a street that included it. So, moving into a mostly white, heteronormative neighborhood was not only a shock it was an adjustment, and not just for us.
“We both decided honesty and clarity were the only way forward if we wanted to be PART of this new neighborhood instead of just “those lesbians” (said in whispered tones).”
There was no way we were going to hide who we were. We spent the first few years of our life together hiding from friends and family and we weren’t going back to that. We both decided honesty and clarity were the only way forward if we wanted to be PART of this new neighborhood instead of just “those lesbians” (said in whispered tones). So, right from the get go I told people that I had a wife and we had just purchased The McGuire house.
Everyone I met was nice and welcoming BUT the true story was told by the children. Yup, I’m here to tell you, kids don’t know what a poker face is and can’t keep a secret at all. Across the street we have a wonderful multi-generational family with two young boys. Those boys are delightful. From the start they were very open about things:
“Wait, you’re married to another woman?”
“Oh okay, do you have kids?”
The boys are more concerned with my dog and getting to pet her than who I am married to. Also, the pool. I think there is REAL interest in the pool. I love those kids, they are joyous and accepting. They say thank you, ride their bikes, say hello when they see me, and generally live their lives.
The people next to us…well, yeah, they are a very religious family. The parents are nice. They say hello, they smile and wave, but none of their children talk to us. I thought they were just shy UNTIL one day they had friends over. It had snowed earlier in the week and I was just getting to clearing off my driveway. Two of the friends looked at one another, had a whispered conversation, and ran over to me offering to help me clean off the rest of my driveway. I thanked them, told them I had it and continued shoveling (they were so sweet). I kept working with a smile on my face until the girl who lives next door grabbed the two friends and yanked them away. I thought it was strange, so I stopped and watched what was happening. The neighbor girl was whispering to the girls who had offered to help me. When she was done talking she looked back at me with fear in her eyes, and her two friends turned to look at me like I was an alien. I smiled, waved and went inside knowing that my “shameful secret” had just been shared: “That’s the lesbian.”
“We were not going to hide our relationship but, more importantly, we weren’t going to be the representative of queer culture for these people.”
I won’t lie. I had a bit of a cry.
I love kids. I didn’t want to be the monster on the block.
My wife and I had a long talk about what happened. There were a lot of emotions involved but we finally landed on a plan:
We were going to be us. We were going to tell one another, “I love you” within hearing distance of our neighbors. We were going to have rare public displays of affection (because that is how my wife prefers it). We were going to take our dog for a walk at night so we didn’t have to wear masks. We were not going to hide our relationship but, more importantly, we weren’t going to be the representative of queer culture for these people.
It was hard for me, I want people to like me. I wanted to take cookies over to the family (again), I wanted to offer to help with yardwork, I wanted to tell the girls they could borrow books from us (yeah, that kills me, they are readers and so am I…we could have bonded so much!!!). But I’m not going to do any of that. I don’t have to be the “super nice, omg let me roll over and hide my queerness” neighbor. I can just be the neighbor. The lesbian (not whispered, out loud).
And ya know what that means? That means I’ll keep delivering nut-free treats across the street, and inviting that nice gaming family we met over for board games and pool parties. Not out of spite. No. I’m just going to expend my energy where it is appreciated, and if the next door neighbors eventually come around I can get behind that too. Until then, I’m happy to be ½ of the only lesbians on the block for better or worse. Now, pardon me while I get my rainbow flag out for the summer.