A few summers ago, I and my inamorata were visiting an Indian family in their suburban New Jersey home.
It was a blazing June day. The sunlight was hot in our faces. Hot dogs were barbecuing lazily on their neighbor’s grille. On a folding table next to it, were arrayed Styrofoam cups, paper plates, plastic silverware.
Their kids were happily splashing about in a blue inflatable swimming pool. The cool lawns, drenched from the water hose, offered a respite from the blaring Sun, directly overhead. The adults sat around in deck chairs, in a semi-circle, a few feet away, gabbing.
As we walked barefoot to help ourselves to the food, our host whisked the two of us aside, in a conspiratorial manner, while his wife looked on suspiciously in our direction.
“Listen,” he began, “I’ve told everyone you’re related. Just make sure no one finds out you’re lesbians.”
That, to me, was nothing short of a mild admonishment. At a minimum, it conveyed a signal that if one wished to mingle with the straight set, they’d better be straight themselves or pretend to be straight.
In effect, we were asked to censor our sexuality.