Posted by: Ophelia | May 12, 2008

This is his “friend”

Inspired by the post below. I’m in an interracial relationship, as a result, I’m not often what people expect to see when I’m introduced by my boyfriend and vice versa. Last weekend we went to an office barbecue. While I was introduced as “girlfriend” initially, as people filtered into the barbecue, the host introduced me as “friend”.  Meanwhile, the intraracial couples got introduced  as such “girlfriend” , “wife” , “fiancee”.  Meanwhile, I’m just a friend. I wasn’t sure how to feel, I mean at least they weren’t overtly hostile, but they decided to simply pretend that the situation in front of them wasn’t how it really was. It was really reductive and bothered me a bit–still bothers me.  I mean I don’t have to think twice about telling someone I have a boyfriend, but I may think twice about bringing him somewhere, or having him bring me somewhere. When people don’t see what they’re expecting, you tend to get some interesting reactions–but not many of them are life affirming and supportive of your choices.

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Responses

  1. Harsh.

    I’ve been on both sides of this–have been defensive while in interracial relationships, and have been surprised sometimes to find out that so-and-so was dating so-and-so.

    On the whole though, I think more exposure will eventually bring us past simple tolerance and into that warm sphere of acceptance and even support.

  2. I was kind of surprised that my boss introduced you like that, outcrazyophelia. He didn’t seem to have any problems about it when we first walked up there, even if we were the first ones there. I’m not even sure if he did it on purpose or subconciously or what. It’s frustrating, but it’s something I figured we’d have to deal with eventually. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating, though.

  3. Yeah, I’d be livid. Sure, he might have been initially surprised, but to deny the validity of the relationship by not referring to you as your S.O.’s girlfriend… it’s disrespectful.

    I remember having this type of conversation with my parents when I was in a long-term interracial relationship:
    Them: ‘We want you to be with whoever makes you happiest, but you’re life will be harder this way.’
    Me: ‘It will only be harder if other people make it that way.’

    This insidious ‘well, I don’t mind – but what will the neighbors say!’ is still all too common in our society and needs to be called-out.

  4. Next month marks my 19th anniversary in an inter-racial relationship. The outside pressures can make it very difficult sometimes. The key is to keep the conversation going within the relationship and ignore the ignorance of others. People will continue to display their shock and try to make your relationship seem like a passing thing ( my parents are still waiting for us break up because apparently we can’t last). You cannot change the behavior of others all you can deal with is how you negotiate yours.


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