border jumper

When the Locals Assume I’m Straight, Should I Correct Them?


It was one of my first days at the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero, in Acapulco. Standing in front of level 300 English with around 40 students, they began to shoot me questions about the city so far: where had I been, where had I gone out, what had I seen. As it happens, I had already acquainted myself with the gay scene visiting a few bars and clubs the weekend prior. Deciding to be a jokester, un estudiante asked if I had gone to the gay nightclub Demas before turning to his group of friends and cracking up–sólo faltaba chocarles los cinco. “Actually, yeah I did,” I shot back in a very nonchalant manner. The student’s demeanor immediately turned from jovial to serious as another asked, surprised, “Wait. Did you really?”

As we all know coming out is a process, not a single event. Before disembarking for Acapulco, I promised myself I would continue my coming-out philosophy of reacting in all situations as a straight person would. Imagine this exchange:

If someone assumes I’m straight, there’s no reason for me not to casually correct them.

Acapulco Taxi Driver: “…and what do you think about the boys from Acapulco.”

Heterosexual Gringo: “I will begin my response by negating the false presupposition of my sexuality behind your question.”

Okay, perhaps that’s not an authentic hypothetical response, but you get the idea: If someone assumes I’m straight, there’s no reason for me not to casually correct them. Of course, at times my nerves or overthinking keep me from fulfilling this goal 100 percent of the time, but it’s been something I strive for. Nonetheless, because I was going to be teaching at a school in Acapulco, in a different country and culture, I made sure to speak with my supervisor about the issue.

“You mean you’re just going to randomly tell the students you’re gay?” she questioned. After further explanation she concluded it would be a non-issue. And it was.