“I SEE YOU ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS.”
I came across this powerful statement on a mural while walking the streets of Austin, TX a few months ago. How freeing would it be to be truly seen by others without having to explain, educate, or discredit yourself?
My wife and I have traveled a lot so far this summer. As a gay couple we encounter numerous oversights and lack of acknowledgement that we are a couple on many occasions.
Just a few examples:
We are asked about our “husbands” in various ways, “Are you traveling alone? Where is your husband? Is it just the two of you??”
When staying at a hotel, we often get put in a room with two queen beds even when we request a king. There have been countless times where we forget to double check with the clerk and when we get to our room ready to relax after a long day of travel, we are greeted with two beds as if we are sleeping separately. This requires us to go back down to the lobby, explain that we are a couple and request a change of room.
“Are you two sisters?” (seriously, this one happens more often than you think)
On our most recent trip, we got to the hotel and our request for a king bed was granted with no problem. It was a relief to not have to go through the process of switching or implying/explaining we are a couple. However, while we were away that evening, the hotel staff came into our room to provide their turndown service to which they unfolded the sleeper sofa to ensure we had two beds to sleep in.
Now this oversight in isolation may seem like no big deal and a simple misunderstanding to some people. After all, all I had to do was fold up the sleeper sofa and put the cushions and pillows back in place; however, these misunderstandings add up and make me ask the question, “Would they have set up the sleeper sofa for a heterosexual couple?”
This incident made me feel dismissed and invisible. I have no qualms about showing affection to my wife in public or openly addressing her as honey, babe, sweetheart, and if I want to embarrass her, “hey lesbian lover!” In all seriousness, most of the time I purposely show her affection when we are traveling so people see we are a couple. In my mind, by physically or verbally confirming to others we are not “just friends”, I won’t have to deal with the dismissive comments, the awkwardness when they apologize for incorrect assumptions, and sleeper sofa oversights.
I know my wife and I are not alone in these experiences. My hope is that professional businesses and organizations make efforts to be as inclusive as possible and make less assumptions when they see two women or two men traveling together, especially when you book accommodations at a place that publicly states they are LGBTQ friendly.
If you’ve had experiences that have left you feeling dismissed or unseen, reach out to me for a complimentary coaching session.