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When did you meet an openly gay person for the first time?


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You know, I was going to say I don't really remember but I got to thinking about it some more and I think I was in 6th grade.  My best friend's mom was living with her lesbian partner, and the partner was a physically abusing all of them (the mom, my friend, and friend's sisters.)  My friend was able to get away, she moved in with her dad, but she was the only one at the time that was old enough to choose and the younger girls didn't have the support to speak up.  It was a really rough situation. 

 

I had really only learned was gay meant probably a year or two before.  The Ryan White situation was all over the news and so I was learning about what being gay meant at the same time I was learning about sex in general.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Millennial. 

In highschool. It wasn't a big deal. 

Actually I remembered earlier than that, my step father's ex wife. I forgot because my step father was a nasty piece of work that I'd rather forget.

Edited by LMD
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Oregon Trail generation. One of my first boyfriends in 8th grade had two moms. It made things very uncomfortable since my parents were devout southern baptists. They were fine having him over, but not his moms. 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting thread!  I'm a late boomer, and although in hind site I can see that some high school peers were gay, I was really clueless!  And things were definitely not open then.  But by the time I got to college (in the 80's), there was a quad-room in our dorm where they were all gay and open about it, and everyone knew it.  So I guess that was the first time.

After that -- a little later in the 80's and after I was married, we were invited to a dinner party where everyone came in couples but one couple was gay, and I realized they were my favorite couple there.  That's when I really got to thinking about it more I guess.   

Edited by J-rap
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Gen X. I honestly don't recall. I'm sure I was relatively young. There were gay folks at my church. My high school friend group had a lot of queer kids.

The first LGBTQ person I was really close with was probably my high school girlfriend though. 😉

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Late boomer.  First real job out of college in the mid-80s.  As the newest person on board, I was given the task of encouraging/following up with all my colleagues to donate to the quarterly Red Cross blood drive.  I was very diligent about asking/reminding and finally one of my workmates explained that it just wasn't safe for him to give because he was gay.  He had mentioned earlier about going to a certain beach which he *thought* explained everything, but since it wasn't on my radar, his hint went right over my head....

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Gen X. I had some family members where it was kind of an open secret and possibly whispered about, but never discussed openly. A great aunt who never married, but she had a "roommate" for 35 years and the like. My brother's best friend in high school (so I was in middle school), but as he was a part of our church, he was not out in high school..

The first person I was close to who was openly out was a co-worker while I was in college. 

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Posted (edited)

I don't remember meeting him because I was just little, but my great uncle was gay. My mom likes to brag about how this particular uncle would say how beautiful I was....apparently gay men's opinions on beauty are superior to other people's opinions, LOL. 

No one can tell me that some people aren't born that way. When he was a little boy (probably in the 1930's?) he liked to paint his nails and dress in girls' clothing. His dad evidently gave him a very hard time about it. Their family was Mormon. My great uncle said that he wanted desperately to change and couldn't. He was engaged to a woman, but broke it off because he didn't feel it was fair to her. He moved to San Francisco and was a florist. He and his partner died very tragically in what was labeled a murder-suicide, but my relatives said no way, they would never have killed their dogs, too. 😞 

Please don't quote. This is too personally identifying and I will delete it later.

Edited by MercyA
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Posted (edited)

My great aunt left my great uncle for a woman years before I was born. I knew who Aunt Ginny was and what had happened my whole life. I never met her partner and only met her a couple of times. 

My great uncle remarried someone much younger and had a son between me and older brother in age - so we spent a lot of time with them. I was close to the second wife ( I used to spend a couple of weeks every summer at their house while cousin went to scout camp with my dad and brother)

I had an openly though quietly gay (he wasnt in the closet but he wasn't broadcasting) close friend in high school. 

Edited by theelfqueen
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Posted (edited)

Generation X here.

My second cousin was gay and I saw her with her partner at family gatherings when I was a teen. I was *very* naive and thought they were just friends. I was a little confused as to why she brought her friend to get togethers but didn't give it much thought.

There were whispers about a couple people in high school being gay, but no one was open about it.

When I went to college, I noticed someone with a rainbow flag on their backpack in my classes and assumed it meant he was gay. A guy in my dorm was known to be somewhat closeted. And a bisexual friend hit on me. I didn't know that she identified that way before that happened. 

I didn't actually *know* someone who was gay until I worked at a Christian radio station. One of the men who worked the prayer line was formerly gay (this is what he would say, if I remember correctly) and celibate. 

Don't quote this either, please. 🙂 

Edited by MercyA
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48 years old, Late Gen X (K-12 was 1978-1991 for me.)

Being raised Evangelical I understood what homosexuality was by late elementary school.  In Jr. High (7th-8th grade where I lived) it was rumored 2 popular girls were gay.  Like any rumor, most of us understood it could be true or it could be false, no one knew for sure. I was in my early 20s when I personally knew an openly gay person.

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I am tail end Gen X - born in 1976. I don't know? 

I mean, I know the first time someone said to me, "I'm gay". It was in 1994, I was at my dorm freshman year (which was also my senior year of highschool - early enrollment). My ex boyfriend showed up (he was taking a class there) and very seriously said we needed to talk. Then he very carefully broke the news that he was gay. At which point I laughed and laughed and then said, "Yeah, I know. We dated. I figured it out back then."

I mean, seriously, I swear he was the last to know, lol. 

Later, I heard via the grapevine that another friend from highschool was gay. Again, I was pretty sure back in highschool, but he wasn't out at the time - very religious Irish Catholic parents. We've reconnected on Facebook and he had a very cute boyfriend for a while. 

A girl I was friends with in highschool l later found out was Bi...which made me realize she'd flirted with me, which I was toally and 100 percent oblivious of. (but I'm known for being oblivious) I don't know if she was out or not...like, I don't know if it was a secret, or I just didn't know because I was oblivious and other people knew. She knew, from what I later understood...not sure who else did. 

Oh...and there was a guy in highschool that wore dresses and carried a purse...but I have no idea if he was gay, or transitioning, or just enjoyed cross dressing, or thought the whole thing was just funny and a way to annoy the powers that be. 

I have friends now that would identify as BI, but they are married, so they are not dating other women. My neighbor has come out as gay, which is a bit odd as he was very homophobic when we first met him but I guess in a trying to convince himself way. He's married, now divorcing or something...they are complicated.

Oh, and I had a friend when I was newly married - he admitted he was Bi, but that was more a secret that he shared with very few people.

The orthopedic surgeon that would come to the clinic I worked at for many years was a lesbian. She scared the bejesus out of me - not because she was a lesbian - but because she had this very brusque surgeon type personality that was super intimidating. Military like, almost. (which has nothing to do with sexuality) 

DH now has friends and coworkers who are gay, bi, trans, etc. I think the tech geek folks are more accepting of that, plus he also works at an arts/music/etc college. 

 

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Posted (edited)

@MercyA.  I completely agree with you that people are born this way.  My cousin has said that he knew he was gay from his very earliest memory.    I am very sorry for your loss.

Edited by Ditto
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On 6/5/2021 at 11:51 AM, SKL said:

Actually, depending on how you define "openly gay," I still can't think of any close person who is completely "out."  People tend to be more or less discreet about it where I live.

I think most people define it as simply meaning having the same openness about relationships as straight people do.

It's interesting that you talk about people being "more or less discreet about it" in your area. You don't specify, but it seems that you must mean that gay people are discreet about it, because I doubt that you would say you can't think of any close person who is completely "out" about being straight, right? I don't know anyone who would say they aren't sure if they know any openly straight people. But the indicators that we use to surmise that others are gay are exactly the same as those we use to surmise that others are straight: we hear them refer to a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, we see photos on their desk or on social media, we run into them on a date at the same restaurant, we meet two dads who show up for the parent/teacher conference, we meet two moms who show up for a ballgame, and so on. I don't see it as a matter of discretion, it's simply people living their life. 

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10 minutes ago, katilac said:

I think most people define it as simply meaning having the same openness about relationships as straight people do.

It's interesting that you talk about people being "more or less discreet about it" in your area. You don't specify, but it seems that you must mean that gay people are discreet about it, because I doubt that you would say you can't think of any close person who is completely "out" about being straight, right? I don't know anyone who would say they aren't sure if they know any openly straight people. But the indicators that we use to surmise that others are gay are exactly the same as those we use to surmise that others are straight: we hear them refer to a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, we see photos on their desk or on social media, we run into them on a date at the same restaurant, we meet two dads who show up for the parent/teacher conference, we meet two moms who show up for a ballgame, and so on. I don't see it as a matter of discretion, it's simply people living their life. 

I have never witnessed any of that with two same sex people…..well,  except for the neighbors from 20 plus years ago.  

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27 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

Y’all know a lot of gay people.  I seriously can’t think of anyone I know who is gay. 

If it makes you feel better, I know very few gay men. Sadly, good friends died of HIV-AIDS back in the early 90's. 

I basically just know a lot of lesbians. It's partly where I live, partly who I run with (secular progressives). Partly my kids' lives. 

 

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Posted (edited)

My great-aunt Elaine was a lesbian.  She had a 40+ year relationship with her partner, and they raised a couple of children.  We lived in the same city as her until I was 5 so I don’t recall never having not known her.  Her partner was always with her.  

After I was 5, we didn’t live in the same state so my interactions with her were limited to family gatherings. She would always open her wallet and hand me and my siblings $20 bills, saying “I’m sure I’ve missed a few birthdays.”  So as a kid that made her just about the coolest person on the planet.  I was born in 1980 but it is my understanding that Elaine was never closeted and just sort of expected her family to not make a big deal out of it.  

She passed away a few years back.  I always thought of her as a total bad ass- she was a female general contractor back when that was unheard of and she could silence all of her insanely loud brothers and sisters with a single glance.  

Edited by LucyStoner
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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, katilac said:

I think most people define it as simply meaning having the same openness about relationships as straight people do.

It's interesting that you talk about people being "more or less discreet about it" in your area. You don't specify, but it seems that you must mean that gay people are discreet about it, because I doubt that you would say you can't think of any close person who is completely "out" about being straight, right? I don't know anyone who would say they aren't sure if they know any openly straight people. But the indicators that we use to surmise that others are gay are exactly the same as those we use to surmise that others are straight: we hear them refer to a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, we see photos on their desk or on social media, we run into them on a date at the same restaurant, we meet two dads who show up for the parent/teacher conference, we meet two moms who show up for a ballgame, and so on. I don't see it as a matter of discretion, it's simply people living their life. 

Oh there are definitely people in my life who I'm not sure if they are straight? They don't talk about their dating life and don't have a long term partner. I'm not sure of their preferences because it hasn't come up. 

There's a member of my family who I know is gay because he came out but whom he is dating or if he is dating ? No idea. 

Edited by theelfqueen
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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, katilac said:

I think most people define it as simply meaning having the same openness about relationships as straight people do.

It's interesting that you talk about people being "more or less discreet about it" in your area. You don't specify, but it seems that you must mean that gay people are discreet about it, because I doubt that you would say you can't think of any close person who is completely "out" about being straight, right? I don't know anyone who would say they aren't sure if they know any openly straight people. But the indicators that we use to surmise that others are gay are exactly the same as those we use to surmise that others are straight: we hear them refer to a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, we see photos on their desk or on social media, we run into them on a date at the same restaurant, we meet two dads who show up for the parent/teacher conference, we meet two moms who show up for a ballgame, and so on. I don't see it as a matter of discretion, it's simply people living their life. 

Well maybe the question shouldn't have used the words "openly gay."  I mean who ever heard of "openly straight"?

I didn't always know what sex was, despite being raised by a heterosexual couple who had 3 kids after me.  😛  So yes, people here tend to be discreet about having sex, including whom they do it with.  😛

I still don't know any gay people who are as open as your average straight person.  Like, there is a close person who we see quite often with his partner.  (They are not, and do not intend to become, married.)  They have never referred to themselves as a couple, at least in circles I move in.  The close person came out to select close people decades ago.  I don't know if he ever "came out" to other close family members, though they do not hide the fact that they live together.

Likewise, there are opposite-sex unmarried pairs who attend as "guests" at each others' family events, and it's none of my business what they do together in private, if anything.  But other heterosexual couples tend to refer to each other as girlfriend/boyfriend/fiance/wife/husband, which I don't see in any gay couples I know.

Edited by SKL
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22 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

Y’all know a lot of gay people.  I seriously can’t think of anyone I know who is gay. 

I realize I'm stereotyping in reverse, but don't you live in small town Oklahoma and socialize mostly with members of your church? I 100% believe that you don't know anyone that you know is gay, but I promise you that you know gay people, they just don't feel comfortable or safe being out (not referring to you specifically here, but meaning they don't feel comfortable overall). They may be out to some people and not others, or they may not be out at all. 

I'm lol'ing at your first sentence, but I can't argue with it. I actually do know a lot of gay people! 

1 hour ago, ktgrok said:

At which point I laughed and laughed and then said, "Yeah, I know. We dated. I figured it out back then."

I mean, seriously, I swear he was the last to know, lol. 

I know you meant nothing negative by this, then or now, but for those following along: please do your best not to laugh and laugh when somebody comes out to you, no matter how much of an obvious statement it may seem to you. Gay people being "the last to know" is commonly joked about, but it's rarely funny to them, certainly not when they are in the often-fraught process of accepting it for themselves and coming out to other people. Try to aim for the sweet spot in between asking them if they're sure and telling them you already know. 

Coming out is still a very big deal for many individuals, even if they live in an accepting area and can count of support from family and friends. 

 

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I have never witnessed any of that with two same sex people…..well,  except for the neighbors from 20 plus years ago.  

Right, the point is not that everyone has witnessed those things in two same sex people, but that witnessing those things does not indicate indiscretion, whether the people are gay or straight. It is simply people living their life. A woman might say that she can't go for drinks after work because she has to pick up her husband at the airport; a man might say he can't go for drinks after work because he has to go pick his husband at the airport. Neither person is being indiscreet. 

32 minutes ago, theelfqueen said:

Oh there are definitely people in my life who I'm not sure if they are straight? They don't talk about their dating life and don't have a long term partner. I'm not sure of their preferences because it hasn't come up. 

Sure, not at all strange to have some people in your life and not know for sure if they are gay or straight, but her remark was that she couldn't think of any close person who was 'completely out' about being gay. My point is that we all surely have people in our life that we feel confident are straight, and that act openly straight, and we don't regard that as something to be discreet about. One's life would have to be very hermit-like to not know anyone who ever mentions a spouse or date, or to never see a photo couple of anyone, or never see anyone on a date, etc. 

Straight people often signal their straightness by simply living their life, and it is not different for gay people. It has nothing to do with being discreet. 

31 minutes ago, SKL said:

 In both cases, you notice a pattern and assume they are a couple.  I'm not sure if that counts as "openly ___" or "out."

That is actually the same exact point I am trying to make - you see everyday things and assume that certain people are a couple. Your reference to gay people being discreet about it really did confuse me, because I don't understand why they should be more discreet than straight people. Yes, living your life openly, with no specific attempts to hide that you are in, or have been in, same sex relationships, counts as being open and/or out to everyone I know. And, as Scarlett noted, I know a lot of gay people 😄

Edited by katilac
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Scarlett said:

Y’all know a lot of gay people.  I seriously can’t think of anyone I know who is gay. 

But yet on the CVS thread you are very sure about how they think and act (at least during Pride month) and don’t have any trouble stereotyping them. Who else do you think it’s ok to stereotype? Or is that just special treatment you reserve for gays because you don’t know any? 
 

Edited by Frances
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36 minutes ago, SKL said:

 

Likewise, there are opposite-sex unmarried pairs who attend as "guests" at each others' family events, and it's none of my business what they do together in private, if anything.  But other heterosexual couples tend to refer to each other as girlfriend/boyfriend/fiance/wife/husband, which I don't see in any gay couples I know.

This must be so regional because every gay couple I know does this. There is basically no difference in how straight or gay couples I know refer to their partners. 

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33 minutes ago, SKL said:

Well maybe the question shouldn't have used the words "openly gay."  I mean who ever heard of "openly straight"?

You don't hear of openly straight because straight is the default, even now. "Openly gay" became a common phrase because being gay was regarded as something to be hidden, and being open about it was dangerous. No one remarks on someone being openly straight, because it has always been both safe and accepted to be straight. If you never have to go in the closet, you never have to come out. 

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53 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

I know you meant nothing negative by this, then or now, but for those following along: please do your best not to laugh and laugh when somebody comes out to you, no matter how much of an obvious statement it may seem to you. Gay people being "the last to know" is commonly joked about, but it's rarely funny to them, certainly not when they are in the often-fraught process of accepting it for themselves and coming out to other people. Try to aim for the sweet spot in between asking them if they're sure and telling them you already know. 

Coming out is still a very big deal for many individuals, even if they live in an accepting area and can count of support from family and friends. 

 

Oh! I know...I was 17 and just so shocked - I thought he was going to tell me he had cancer or his mom had died (she was my teacher and drama coach in high school and had some health issues). I think it was just the sheer relief more than anything. But also I was young and dumb. To me, It was just obvious - in fact I'd known for a while via the grapevine that he had a boyfriend. So it was like thinking he's going to tell me some horrible, awful news and then says something I knew and had known for a long time. 

I like to think I'd handle it better as an adult. 

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Just now, ktgrok said:

 I like to think I'd handle it better as an adult. 

I'm sure you would. Believe me, I'd rather not imagine how I might have misspoken if someone came out to me when I was 17! So I'm absolutely not coming at 17-year-old you. It's just that a fair number of people actually think that is a positive and supportive thing to say, and I thought it was important to point out that it's often not, and better left unsaid. 

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1 hour ago, SKL said:

Well maybe the question shouldn't have used the words "openly gay."  I mean who ever heard of "openly straight"?

I didn't always know what sex was, despite being raised by a heterosexual couple who had 3 kids after me.  😛  So yes, people here tend to be discreet about having sex, including whom they do it with.  😛

I still don't know any gay people who are as open as your average straight person.  Like, there is a close person who we see quite often with his partner.  (They are not, and do not intend to become, married.)  They have never referred to themselves as a couple, at least in circles I move in.  The close person came out to select close people decades ago.  I don't know if he ever "came out" to other close family members, though they do not hide the fact that they live together.

Likewise, there are opposite-sex unmarried pairs who attend as "guests" at each others' family events, and it's none of my business what they do together in private, if anything.  But other heterosexual couples tend to refer to each other as girlfriend/boyfriend/fiance/wife/husband, which I don't see in any gay couples I know.

Sometimes this isn’t because of the couple’s preferences, though. Back many years ago, the company my husband worked for was bought out by one in another city. They flew all the people and their families out to visit the office and to meet with relocation folks, look at houses, etc. 

All the paperwork, name tags, etc listed relationships like “M-senior software engineer. D-wife of M” etc. except one. Ed. Just Ed. Ed was in a long term partnership (and now, marriage) with Jason, who was an engineer. Jason and Ed were accepted as a couple, but apparently, the company felt uncomfortable stating that Ed was Jason’s partner. 

 

Similarly, I’ve taught multiple kids who have two moms. Every single time, there have been other parents who will refer to them as being childname’s aunt or as sisters, apparently unable to believe that these two women raising children together are a Lesbian couple. It’s not that they’re hiding it, but that some people choose not to see. 

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39 minutes ago, katilac said:

I'm sure you would. Believe me, I'd rather not imagine how I might have misspoken if someone came out to me when I was 17! So I'm absolutely not coming at 17-year-old you. It's just that a fair number of people actually think that is a positive and supportive thing to say, and I thought it was important to point out that it's often not, and better left unsaid. 

If it helps, I didn't say to him he was the last to know, just thought it. I did say I already knew...which was also likely not helpful. 

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Boomer here. I had a couple of friends in HS who were gay but not really out-out (their close friends knew, but they were not open about it with strangers), but in college & grad school I knew lots of people who were fully out, were openly in same-sex relationships, etc. After grad school, when I was living in L.A. in the 80s/early 90s, I had a lot of gay friends who were artists and writers and musicians and we used to hang out at a nightclub/cabaret called Cafe Largo, and its successor Luna Park. I was friends with the owner (who is also gay) and I did a lot of graphic design for him in return for food and drinks for myself and friends, so we hung out there a lot. Good food, really varied and interesting music, performance art, poetry readings, etc. (I miss those days!) Even after we moved from L.A. to the boonies of rural England, and then rural France, we still had gay and trans friends. I've never lived anywhere in my adult life where I didn't know gay people, so hearing someone say there aren't any gay people where they live is like hearing someone say there aren't any trees where they live — I'm sure such places exist, it's just totally outside the realm of my own experience.

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1 hour ago, Frances said:

But yet on the CVS thread you are very sure about how they think and act (at least during Pride month) and don’t have any trouble stereotyping them. Who else do you think it’s ok to stereotype? Or is that just special treatment you reserve for gays because you don’t know any? 
 

I mean, I do watch tv. And read on TWTM.  🤷🏻‍♀️

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Probably my whole life? But I can be a bit oblivious, so... idk, definitely by high school I guess?

3.5% of the US population identifies as LGB, and many more people will say they have same-sex attraction or have engaged in same-sex behavior than will say they are LGB. So, at a minimum, if you know 100 people in your life, statistically speaking you can expect that 3 or 4 of them are gay or bi.

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Scarlett, you do know that tv is fictional, right? Even so-called "reality tv" is scripted.

We don't know a lot of gays. You know very few out LGBT folks because you belong to a fairly select social group that isn't terribly, well, gay-accepting.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Scarlett, you do know that tv is fictional, right? Even so-called "reality tv" is scripted.

We don't know a lot of gays. You know very few out LGBT folks because you belong to a fairly select social group that isn't terribly, well, gay-accepting.

You don’t know a lot of gays?  

Edited by Scarlett
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31 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I mean, I do watch tv. And read on TWTM.  🤷🏻‍♀️

What in the he** do you think you know about gays from watching TV? I mean are you actually being serious here? You do know TV is not real life? It’s entertainment?

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Just now, Frances said:

What in the he** do you think you know about gays from watching TV? I mean are you actually being serious here? You do know TV is not real life? It’s entertainment?

No I wasn’t actually being serious and I guess I should have read the room a little better because wow, you people are hostile.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

No I wasn’t actually being serious and I guess I should have read the room a little better because wow, you people are hostile.

Yeah, I guess we should all just chill, because it’s not like ignorant stereotypes about gay people are doing any harm. I mean no ones getting killed or anything, right? 

Edited by Frances
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7 minutes ago, Frances said:

Yeah, I guess we should all just chill, because it’s not like ignorant stereotypes about gay people are doing any harm. I mean no ones getting killed or anything, right? 

You are overwrought. It is a HUGE stretch that suggesting the worker was making a statement (with his disrespectful treatment of his customers) is going to cause harm to him. 

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4 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

You are overwrought. It is a HUGE stretch that suggesting the worker was making a statement (with his disrespectful treatment of his customers) is going to cause harm to him. 

That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. Maybe you need to take a break and go read some history.

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1 minute ago, Tanaqui said:

I know a perfectly normal amount of LGBT individuals, Scarlett. You are the one who is out of the norm. I think my meaning was pretty clear the first time.

That word normal can be a bit problematic.

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