Have you watched the series Schitt's Creek? A wonderful Canadian comedy in which a family of four who lose it all is followed in their new life. The son (also writer of the series in real life) is gay and in the end he marries the love of his life. There is no drama or hardship in the storyline, in fact his sexuality and the marriage are brought as a fact of life. It won countless TV awards and the love of people around the world for showing queerness as something normal.
I am not the one shouting of the rooftop I am gay. Why should I? I don’t hear straight people do that and I don’t see myself as more special. But I am also not hiding anything. You will know I am married to a man at some point. Unfortunately gay people have to announce they are queer at some point just so the straight people know they are different. Since that outing happened 30+ years ago I don’t pay a lot of attention to it anymore. You either accept me or you don’t.
My gay road has not been particularly easy nor difficult. I have experienced mostly pleasant encounters and sometimes homophobic ones. The latter never got me though because I have surrounded myself with lovely people who either helped me or don’t fuss about gay or straight but just see people. Of course I grew up in The Netherlands where things were generally spoken well taken care of - in comparison to other countries - and now living in New Zealand with a similar take on equality.
Looking back at my career I ended up working for and with companies who took equality seriously and where I could be myself. I didn’t chose those businesses deliberately but I guess when you work in marketing/communications that usually already meant ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal' in how they were treating staff. If I had been interested in working with my hands as a tradesman my story would have been very different.
In exercising I never felt at home in team sports. I have always preferred to do my own thing. Did I subconsciously avoid any potential homophobic locker room behaviour? Perhaps, but I just didn’t like soccer or rugby so it never bothered me. In the early nineties I did love step aerobics which was probably seen as ‘gay’ if you were doing it as a man. Not that I cared about that. I was there for myself not to please anyone else.
When I changed my career from corporate marketing to Pilates I already knew it was a very inclusive world. Of course I haven’t met all Pilates teachers and I am sure there will be some homophobic ones out there but in general no-one blinks whether a teacher is gay or straight. That is not necessarily the case with clients but everyone has a choice, so if you don’t like me teaching you because I am gay I have three words: bye bye bye.
Again I found a community where being gay is not an issue. To be fair I am not sure if all LGBTQ members feel evenly accepted so there is still work to be done. And most recently our black Pilates community members have rightly expressed themselves as not being visible enough which I totally agree with. But if there is one world where there is willingness to adapt and change that is the Pilates community.
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Marco Dingemans is a certified Authentic Pilates Education International (APEI) instructor