Sometimes in SafeZone I give a group homework: delete the most important person in your life for one week. Put them in a closet, and you might get a taste of what it's like for GLBT people on a daily basis. A recent participant wrote me recently, and had this to say:
I am writing to tell you that I tried your suggestion, to not speak in gender specific terms for one week. I chose my husband to cut out of my life, and starting (and ending) the following day, I spoke of him as "my partner," "my roommate," "my friend," etc. I was quite unsuccessful, and outed myself at least five times in as many hours. I stopped to visit [him] at his office that afternoon, and when I was leaving, I shook his hand, and he said, "Don't I even get a hug?" He had forgotten about my experiment. I answered quietly, "No, we're in public. I'll hug you when you get home." He laughed and said okay, but it bothered me. It bothered me all the rest of the afternoon, through dinner, through class, and on my drive home. I was afraid I had hurt him. and that hurt me. I was even thinking things like "What if he has an accident, and I DIDN'T HUG HIM WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE?!" I thought, would it have hurt to just give him a quick hug? That's when it hit on me, that's when I *truly got it.* I understood the idea behind it, I sympathize, I fight for GLBT rights, but now I KNOW. actually feeling it, even for just a little while was way different. Even though I knew it was just an experiment, not for my whole life, I *still* felt awful. I spoke with my friend back in Chicago about it, and she said she also feels resentment when she can't acknowledge her partner at work. Very interesting experiment, and it works!