I find it disheartening to write about problems to which I feel there is no real fix, but this blog is "Our Lives," right?
As much as I'd love to say that I'm open with everyone, that I'm completely confident in being my full self all of the time, and that I never have reservations in disclosing my sexuality, it's not true. I have a closet. It may only exist for fifty minutes out of the week, but it's there.
I spent my last two summers living in Russia on exchange. Why did I choose it? I felt the need to experience a new part of the world, and this program was without cost to me. It was my first time out of America (and flying, for that matter). Russia is far behind in terms of acceptance, so, for convenience and for safety (at our pre-departure orientations, the program advised against coming out to Russians: "No matter the bond you've built with your host family, they'll probably just kick you out."), I was only open with my American peers.
Ironically, I had my first relationship (with a fellow American) this summer abroad, but that's a story for another day.
Enter Russian class, Duke University.
"Do you want to get married?"
My response: "No."
Yes, of course I want to get married someday. I can't bring myself to tell my teacher that, though. In class, we learned two different expressions in Russian for the English phrase "to get married." There is one for those who marry women, and one for those who marry men. His question and my response both contained the "marrying a woman" verb. It isn't exactly a lie. I don't want to marry a woman. However, it's not the whole truth.
The follow-up: "Why not?"
"I like being alone."
A complete lie. It was all I could come up with in Russian on impulse, and I hate that I said it.
Maybe I'm not giving him a fair chance, but I feel that the classroom setting is neither the time nor place to speak out on this issue. Furthermore, I actually slipped up once and made the mistake of answering, "I am not married" using the participle form of the "marrying a man" verb. My teacher quickly corrected me, laughing, waving his hands, and stressing the importance "watching word choice" in that situation. "You don't want people to think . . . you know . . ."
It isn't like I want to strengthen the bond between my teacher and me. I just hate that I feel the need to keep the whole truth inside.
Like I said, I don't know if there is an immediate fix to this. For now, it's simply an annoyance. At least I'm an optimist. After all, times are changing. Look at how far we've come.