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I am a teacher. I've worked in all different places: pre-schools, primary schools, high schools; mainstream schools, behavioural schools, special education schools, cultural schools. As someone in a same-sex relationship, I've discovered that each place has reacted to me in different ways. I've been accepted and ostracised; I've felt safe and felt targeted. I've been told to keep my 'weakness' from damaging the school, and that it's ok to discuss relationships with children, as long as they're not same-sex relationships. I've found friends who love me and colleagues who hate me without knowing me. I've had bosses who embraced anti-homophobia campaigns and bosses who sought to have me removed. But none of this has had as much of an impact on me as what happenned last week.
I've been in a new position for a few weeks now. It's a lovely day-care centre, very big on inclusion and equality and I'm happy to be a part of it. As is my usual tactic when around people I'm unsure of, I used the term 'partner' whenever I needed to refer to my girlfriend. No one started referring to my 'boyfriend' or 'husband', which was a relief as I didn't have to correct them.
Then... I forgot my lunch. My lovely girlfriend offered to drop it off for me so I wouldn't go hungry, expecting that she could just hand it to someone at the front desk to pass along with me. When she arrived, saying that she was just there to drop off my lunch, she was greeted with a big smile from the boss. "Come on through, you can go in and say hello if you like!". So in they came, to the room where I was surrounded toddlers and lego, accompanied by a bright "You have a visitor!", a sandwich, a cookie, and a bottle of water.
And then came the part that surprised me the most.
A while later, a work mate asked me plainly, "Was that your partner who bought your lunch?".
Doesn't seem like much, does it? But, in nearly 4 years of being together, it is the first time I have been asked that question. I have been asked if she is my sister, friend, cousin, or housemate. But never partner or girlfriend. And this question was asked just one would ask a straight girl, "Is that your boyfriend?".
It may not seem like much to someone else, but it made my day.
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