Pronoun Games

I’d garner that most queer people have played the pronoun game. I know I am guilty, sometimes more than others. The last few weeks I’ve been especially guilty, and it seems to me there are multiple pronoun games I’m playing.

First, there is the game of avoiding pronouns; “I am seeing someone new.” Depending on how good you are, this can come across as varying degrees of awkward. Instead of saying, “She took me out to dinner,”I could say “Someone took me out to dinner,” “My partner took me out to dinner,” or  “We went out to dinner.” I frequently play this game at work; for example, “I got a nasty message from my ex” or “I have a hot date this evening.” I leave out the pronouns. No one suspects anything. Right?

The second game involves using the expected pronoun, but for some reason I’ve justified as valid. For example, my doctor knows I have had sexual relationships with women. On a recent doctor’s visit, I justified using female pronouns for a FTM partner because my doctor is concerned with my sexual health and pregnancy prevention. Even if said partner identifies as male, my doctor need not worry about the risks that come with a “typical” male partner. I can say “she” and move on with the visit, while receiving proper care. Sure, I could also explain the whole situation, but then I become “educator'” when I don’t care to be. And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter that much. I’m there for an annual exam, not to explain my entire dating history, my sexual orientaiton, and other’s gender identity. Of course, I have mixed thoughts on playing this variation of the pronoun game. On the one hand, it protects me and my privacy. On the other hand, I am avoiding conversations and discussions that might make it easier for other queers down the road.

The final pronoun game I’ve noted is the game of straight up lying. This is when I magically transform my girlfriend from a “she” to a “he” because I don’t want to be judged, because I feel unsafe, or because the actual pronoun is irrelevant, but I want to share a story. This is when I tell the old man sitting next to me at the folk festival wearing a Harvard hat that my ex-boyfriend got a research job there and that he is moving in three months. In reality, it’s actually my ex-girlfriend and she is moving in three weeks. The old man has a confederate flag sewn to one sleeve and a cross around his neck. He doesn’t need to know and I don’t want to tell him. I feel most guilty when I play this pronoun game. I know I’m playing for purely selfish reasons. I should be open, proud. I should be busting down stereotypes. Instead I’m presenting as straight instead of lesbian or lesbian instead of queer.

What about you? What pronoun games do you play? Why do you play them? Do you feel guilty or are they a necessary evil?

    • Katie
    • April 25th, 2010

    Yeah, I’ve done my fair share of fibbing. My dad still thinks Kelly Stegmeyer was just my “friend” and while we were dating, there were a couple times where I introduced her as my “friend.” It feels bad, but at the time it was necessary for me. If I was dating a woman now I think I would be a lot less prone to lying about it because I’m more confident, I came out to my dad, etc.

    I kinda feel like I’m always lying in a sense because 24-7 people assume I am straight. I’m not going to correct every person I meet, but it feels deceitful. I can hear all sorts of terrible homophobic remarks and they think I’m going to agree with them. But if I were to go the out-and-proud route and cover myself with rainbows, people would be even more confused seeing me kiss my boyfriend. It feels like a lose-lose to me. Now I’m just whining! Sorry lol

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