The “Outing Dance”

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Ok. I’m sitting at a bar with my partner in a public (straight) restaurant. Instantly my gaydar goes off. A butch-thing asks if the seat next to me is taken. I say “no”, thinking to myself, “gosh, it’s nice to see another lesbian in rural WI!!” Considering that there is always the “farm-girl” *clause, we now begin the verbal “outing-dance” that we do to try and find out if the person next to you is also gay…

[*Farm-Girl Clause: The girl that looks like a complete, card-carrying, member of the Lesbianous Maximus club.. But is really a farm-girl that may, or may not, ever consider the fact that she is possibly a lesbian.]

Now, I have impeccable gaydar. No, really, I do. If I notice it, it’s gay. Just the way it is.

Meeting the new women at the bar was, however, interesting.. As we began to talk, I saw the look of solitude on her face. She hadn’t seen another lesbian in a long long time in her area. She was careful and yet conversational. She ordered to-go. Three meals. I knew she was gay, but how to breech the subject.. How to make sure I was correct.. How to get to a “real” conversation without being forward or flirtatious..

The easiest way to ease a conversation out with a stranger that isn’t sure if your just a friendly straight woman, or if her instincts are correct, and you’re a femme lesbian, is to flirt. That’s a dangerous road. I’m in a wonderful relationship (which some of you have read about in my previous posts), and I am always wary of the boundary-crossing singles that are a threat to a committed relationship. I didn’t want to flirt, but I wanted to make it easy for her to come out to us and really meet us. So the dance begins..

Since the bartender knew her by name, I assumed that this was a regular spot for her and complimented the food and people as being nice and easy to talk to. We both said how happy we were that the weather was finally nice enough to go outside and enjoy some sunshine. She gave me a moments pause when she said that she was looking forward to getting her golf clubs out again… a “half-outing”… Not enough to go on..

She mentioned that there really wasn’t anywhere else to hang out around there, and how she used to hang out there more, but her work changed and she and her friend don’t come in as much anymore… Another “half-out”, but one of us really needed to go for it… THEN, she said, “Now I have to go to Madison or Milwaukee to go to a club for entertainment..” I took the bait. I said, “We like Madison because it is such a comfortable climate for my partner and I. Great bars, restaurants and plenty of entertainment…”

There it was. I “outed” us.

This is the moment when she’ll either get really quiet, conversation over, OR reveal her secret identity, as well. It was the latter. She said that she liked Madison for that reason, too, and she’d never been to Milwaukee’s Pride Fest, but really wanted to go sometime..

Whew. The dance was over, and our real conversation could begin. I was fascinated by our verbal choreography, and that’s probably what stuck with me the most out of the 35min we talked. Why do we out ourselves the way that we do, testing the water gingerly with every word, just to make sure it’s safe…

She bought us a round (sweetly butch of her), and we all started talking like old friends. It was nice to ease into familiar conversation that was half-coded, but in a language we all knew so well. We began with the “how long I’ve known” stories. They are easy and safe because we all have one. Then we said that if she ever made it to Milwaukee’s Pride, that we’d buy her a drink. It was a nice way to end the day. We all felt exhilarated that we successfully navigated the treacherous waters of the “Outing Dance”. We may have made a new friend.

You have to know how to dance in rural, WI. You never know when you’re going to meet someone who needs you to be the bold one and take the floor…

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