This month the Facebook Pole Dancers blog topic is coming out as a pole dancer. Interesting. Not only am I out to my family but I am also out on the Internet, at work and to my fellow hockey players. I'm also male. I have multiple stories.
I was out to my Facebook friends from the very beginning and started this blog not long after that. The only fallout from those choices was that my son removed me from his Facebook friends list. He basically said that his friends didn't need to see pictures of his dad on a stripper pole. There was another slightly negative reaction from an old high school classmate on FB. However, he also knew my wife from high school and after they had a few conversations he seemed good with it.
My workplace coming out was really interesting. I work in Boulder, Colorado in a weather research laboratory. My workplace is 99% liberal, tree hugging, all inclusive, warm fuzzy people with PhD's. Unless of course you are a guy who pole dances. I was in Santa Rosa, California for a meeting where a huge battle of both turf and scientific ideology was taking place. Some very high level people were saying some pretty nasty things in front of their bosses and some of the not so nice stuff was aimed at my own research. My scientific research is every bit as personal as my dance. It is a creative expression of who I am and how I think.
During one of the breaks I walked out into the parking lot and started walking off the anger and frustration with a few female co-workers who were as upset as I was with contentious situation we were experiencing. While I was looking around I noticed a parking sign in the lot that was mounted on a round pole instead of the usual square steel. I handed my cell phone to one of the women and said, "Take a picture of this for me please."
After much laughter I did a few more pole tricks and that gave me the perspective to go back to the meeting. There was one negative reaction. One of the woman asked me to mail the picture back to the lab in Boulder. The one guy she thought would find it hysterical didn't find it funny at all. IT guy. Go figure. :) One of the warm fuzzy PhD's took a short video of me doing turns on the concourse train at Denver International Airport while our group was on the way home. My boss saw it. Nope, he didn't think my little demo was funny. I gained some ground back at the baggage carousel. His sister was a ballet dancer. Win some. Lose some.
My final coming out was totally accidental. I was visiting with my parents one evening and my mom asked me if I wanted to stay for dinner. Without thinking I said, "Sorry mom. I have dance class at 6:30." I felt doom. Without blinking my mom continued stirring the spaghetti sauce and asked me what kind of dance. Never lie to moms right? They know. It doesn't matter if you are five or fifty-five. Ballet. Yeah mom, your son is a ballet dancer. My mom looked at me and said, "You are always doing something new aren't you?" The she called out to my dad and said, "Hey, your son is taking ballet lessons." My dad's reply, "I hope he can waltz better than I can." At that point we both took off to sit with my dad. My mom explained that they had taken dance classes together and my dad just could not learn to waltz. I now had confirmation that my issues with center work in ballet ARE genetic.
I figured I was on a roll and said, "Hey, while we are talking about dance I thought I'd mention that I am also learning how to pole dance." Dad never looked up. He just continued on with his crossword puzzle. Mom of course had one final question, "Isn't that about stripping?" No mom, not for me. Some do, I don't.
I know I'm pushing the norm and I'm out to everyone. I'm not young enough to dance in something tight, tiny, and shiny like the super male pole dancers. But I'm old enough to not give a damn about what other people think about my being a dancer. I would say that most people both male and female are either intrigued or at the worst neutral. The people that have problems with my being a pole dancer are equally distributed between men and women. Actually more people get weird about ballet than pole dance. Personally I think it is related to homophobia but that is just a guess.
Oh, my fellow hockey players... They didn't blink. I'm a defensemen. Defensemen are at the bottom of the hockey player hierachy. As long as our team doesn't get scored on while I am on the ice and I don't forget my turn to bring beer no one gives a shit.
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