I was doing a Spnaish immersion course in a university in Madrid. I was in my mid-30s and was working on my doctorate in psychology. I was studying Spanish just because I loved it. The immersion students were housed in college dorms. I found that many of the other students were elementary and high school Spanish teachers from across the US, but mostly from the middle of the country. Most of them a decade older than myself. We all bonded well together, going on cultural outings, eating, drinking, swimming. I came out as a lesbian in a matter-of-fact way, as conversations became more personal in our social groups. I am from NYC and being gay, especially among academics in a university setting, is so common-place as to be unremarkable. I never expected to encounter homophobia in that setting. However, upon coming out, i was treated differently, a little coldly. One of my classmates told me she felt uncomfortable with my sexual orientation. I still socialized with these folks, though. Little by little, they warmed up again. One woman told me she was particularly disturbed because her own daughter had just come out to her. There was some hesitancy between us, yet we were drawnnot going to pull away. We wanted to connect across the gulf, and we did, even though it was a little strained. It was not easy to stay engaged yet it was worth it for both of us, I believe, as we began to very judiciously express our experiences, not fully embracing each other, but neither turning our backs.
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