Why You No Married?
Subtitle: And other questions it’s apparently appropriate to ask within 5 minutes of meeting someone
This proposed book title could work for both India and Sri Lanka, and likely a lot of other countries I just haven’t experienced yet.
It’s taken some getting used to, the cultural differences here. Here’s an example of the type of questions I regularly get asked, basically the first or second thing someone says to me after “hello”:
Are you married?
How many children? (note – I was not asked IF I have children or if I was married. This was literally the first question, which kinda made me feel old…)
How many kgs? 70? (This is one I refused to answer by saying I don’t know, because I actually don’t know my weight in kg)
Where’s husband? (Ugh, like I need to be supervised while travelling)
Do you have a boyfriend? (I usually just say yes to this to get people off my back)
You travelling alone? (to which, for safety’s sake, I invent some friends I’m about to meet up with)
This is usually the regular sequence of events:
“You how old?” or “What age?”
Followed alternately by “Oh…….” And an implication that that is too old to not be married and there’s something wrong with me. Although, sometimes people have said, “Oh, you’re still young.” Other times, like yesterday, these questions are followed by, “Why you no married?”
And then I’m left feeling like I need to justify my life choices to total strangers.
I know, I know, there are cultural differences here and the people asking me these questions (usually) do not mean to offend. They are merely curious about me, a foreign visitor in their country.
And I often respond by asking them the same questions, to at least even things out a little bit.
But it can’t help but make me feel a bit vulnerable. Because, for me, there’s another element to these questions. I’m a <gasp!> lesbian and that is not always a safe thing to admit. Sometimes I feel like this journey is putting me into the closet, for the first time, really, in my life. Which is why I SO love when I can be around fellow LGBT people! I enter that space being myself, not needing to come out or feel like I’m hiding anything.
Of course, I don’t have to come out when someone asks if I’m married. I can just say no. Even if they ask me about a boyfriend or husband, I can just say no. But the thing is, being gay is a part of my identity. It’s not my whole identity. But it’s there. And denying it or consciously thinking, “Ok, I can’t tell them I’m gay,” hurts for two reasons:
(1) I don’t want to have to deny any part of who I am, especially a part of which I’m not ashamed.
(2) It’s quite hurtful to know that, in all likelihood, the same people who might be friendly with me and enjoying my company at the moment would feel very differently if they knew that one aspect of my identity.
I interviewed one Sri Lankan woman the other day, who identifies as bisexual, and she put it quite well: “Being queer is a big part of who I am. I don’t want people to assume I’m straight.” She’s currently in a relationship with a man and therefore people believe that she’s now straight, that her former same-sex relationships were just a phase.
I have a lot more thoughts about TWG – or “travelling while gay” as I put it. That will be in another blog post, likely entitled “That Time I Accidentally Came Out to a Minister and Then He Felt Comfortable Enough to Tell Me He Wanted to Experiment with Viagra and Vibrators.””
For now, I think I’m just going to start saying my husband cheated on me and I don’t want to talk about it. Then everyone can feel uncomfortable. 😉
Or, better yet, this could be a good conversation:
“Why you no married?”
“Drat, I knew I forgot something!!”
Next up in the Book Titles Series (a positive one, I promise):
Posted on April 16, 2015, in India, LGBTQ, Sri Lanka. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.
You are cracking me up this afternoon, Kaitlin! Missing you – but really enjoying following your adventures 🙂
It’s also one of the risks of TWF (travelling while female). No one asks my male friends/cousins about this. I’ve resorted to telling people I’m meeting up with my girlfriend (often true since I travel with female friends) and let them sort out their opinions. You’d be surprised how subtly welcoming people can be – in one place they pushed our twin beds together so we could share.
Aw Niya that’s really cute! Remember how in Panama we were split up because there was a couple that wanted to sit together and I was like, “What if we were a couple?!? They don’t know that!!” hahaha
And yes, I agree – it’s probably more TWF…
‘Or, better yet, this could be a good conversation:
“Why you no married?”
“Drat, I knew I forgot something!!”’
What about using the gender neutral term “spouse” rather than husband when saying that someone cheated on you? Even though it is not the truth, you are still maintaining your queer identity for yourself.
Joanne – because (1) they may not know what spouse means and (2) I don’t want to tempt fate!! 😉
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