This story is just so bizarre I had to share it. Please share any insights because I'm not sure my reactions are justified.
[CAST OF CHARACTERS]
Mark: My best friend from high school. Currently lives in Seattle. Came out to me after we left college. Is very guarded about his sexuality. One of the friends I visited for Thanksgiving. I talk about him from time to time, just because he's my friend.
Kathy: Another friend I knew in high school who happens to live in DC now. We don't keep in touch much anymore. She hasn't kept in touch with Mark for probably seven years now. Mark never came out to Kathy. Kathy somehow got a job at a small firm which shared space with my firm, so she wound up getting somewhat pulled into a group of people I hang out with.
Debra: A friend of mine here in DC, who worked in the same space as Kathy and me, and one of the "group of people I hang out with" as mentioned above. Hereainafter, the "group of people I hang out with" will be identified as "Debra et al."
So I went to visit Mark (among others) over the Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle. A fine time was had by all.
Debra et al. decide to get together for a happy hour last night. I decline to attend, for various reasons. I did not know Kathy was going to attend.
At some point in the evening, someone mentions me and my trip to Seattle over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is, after all, no secret. Somewhere, though, someone manages to mention Mark's sexuality. Out loud. In front of Kathy.
"Oh, now it all makes sense," she says. Mark has now been "outed" to Kathy.
Keep in mind, Mark is very sensitive about the whole "coming out" thing. He's been keeping the whole issue on a "need to know" basis.
And Kathy still keeps in touch with people from high school who know him.
See the dilemma here?
Frankly, I don't know what I could possibly do. I mean, I suppose I could call Kathy and ask her to keep this information to herself. I think that's really the best I could do. (Actually, I just tried it, and I don't think I even have an accurate number for Kathy anymore.) So I could just say "That's just too bad," and let the world go about its course, even if it includes Kathy leaking to all our high school friends that Mark is gay.
Okay, the real reason for this post: What bugs me more is Debra's reaction to the whole thing. She's the one who related the "oops we outed your friend Mark" story to me, and I just about lost it. My recollection of the conversation:
Me: Oh my god, that is sooo uncool.
Debra: Whatever. It's not like it's a big deal. It was so funny.
Me: It's not funny!
Debra: Oh, but it is.
Me: No, it's really not.
Debra: Oh, but it really is.
Me: Uh, NO, it's REALLY NOT.
Debra: No, really, it is.
Me: Mark's not the most "out and proud" homosexual. Kathy still keeps in touch with people! You don't think the first thing she's going to do is call Lance, or Tim, or Loren -- none of whom Mark has come out to -- and say, "Hey, remember Mark? Did you know he's gay?"
Debra: You know, we just never gave it a second thought. It's just not a big deal.
Me: Uh, it is a big deal! Did you at least ask her not to tell anyone else?
Debra: Again, we just didn't think we needed to. It's just not that important.
Debra: Look, I just don't think sexuality is something to be ashamed of, so it's just not a big deal.
Me: Easy for you to say when you're heterosexual and your sexuality is correctly assumed by most of the world. You don't get to choose whether someone else should or shouldn't be outed. And when you out someone, you need to realize that the outed person may not appreciate it, and work from there.
Debra: Whatever. It's just not a big deal. I don't see why you're making such a big issue out of it.
So I'm taking some issue with the flippancy with which Debra is taking this. She doesn't think it's a big deal, and she's the master arbiter of whether someone else's sexuality should be the topic of discussion or not? Does this mean that she can go about broadcasting the names of all the people she knows who have had abortions, because she doesn't find anything particularly shameful about exercising one's right to choose?
Sure, it was an honest (if idiotic) slip to talk about Mark in front of Kathy when I wasn't even there. (Frankly, I don't even know how Mark's sexuality could possibly have come up in their conversation. They could have discussed me and my trip to Seattle. They could even have talked about the fact that I was visiting my friend Mark. But why did his sexuality even enter into the discussion? My sexuality, fine, fair game. But Mark's?) But then to brush the whole event off as "funny" and "not a big deal" when, for some people, it is a big deal... well, that just kinda burns me.
Am I wrong?