Interracial in London

I’ve already shared on Rants & Raves my new year’s eve experiences in Rotterdam a week ago. I happened to spend Christmas 2012 in London with my fiancé and got to catch up with some of our friends. While walking through the West End in a group, at some point we were approached by a Big Issue salesman. I was walking a few steps behind with a male friend, while my partner walked ahead. The salesman mistook my friend for my boyfriend and tried to use some friendly banter to convince him to buy a magazine for me. In the end I bought one, at which point the salesman began to tease my friend and exclaimed: “If she was my girlfriend, I wouldn’t make her pay for it herself!” I felt compelled at this stage to point out his mistake and gesture towards my fiancé, who was still a few steps ahead. Of course, the guy wasn’t expecting this, but I couldn’t help but sense something more in his gaze as he looked over to see my white fiancé. Some people might call me paranoid, but we had another experience at the airport on the way home.

While gift shopping together in duty free at Stansted, where we had entered the store together, walked around together, picked out tea together and then walked to the cashier together. Even though we were stood next to each other, talking at the cashier while Toon was being served, I was asked to walk around to the next cashier in order to be served, and eventually we were asked if we were together. As we left the shop, while we both agreed it was a weird experience, my fiancé tried to reassure me that it was probably just that we hadn’t been seen properly.

Indeed, we hadn’t been seen properly but my partner and I have different interpretations of what that means. While I think it means people don’t see us as a couple because they can’t wrap their heads around an interracial relationship, he thinks – in this case anyhow – that the store clerks just didn’t see us shopping together and thought I was waiting in line. Admittedly this is probably a healthier approach than mine, but I can’t stop myself worrying about how life will be for us after we are married. How many more times will people second guess are relationship to each other? And how far do we leave various experiences and situations before we speak out? We’ll keep you posted…

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