Last night I stayed after class and worked one-on-one with my sifu. I've been learning Wing Chun for a little over six months, and I think I'm progressing well, thanks to having dabbled in martial arts years ago. Though I miss the animal energies of my last art (snake, crane, monkey, tiger), the techniques in Wing Chun seem more effective.
We were about to part ways for the evening when we started talking about life. The discussion led to if I get into a Ph.D. program how I'll have to learn another language, which might be difficult, especially if I choose a language like Mandarin. My sifu mentioned how it's better/easier to learn a language you'll use -- if you travel to a place. "You can settle down with a Chinese girl," he suggested (rather orientalist-ly).
I smiled shyly and looked downward. I could have replied (maybe less orientalist-ally): "Actually, I've been with a Filipino guy for almost five years." But I didn't.
Why not? I had to think about it as I walked through the park on the way home.
Is the martial arts space a bastion of male camaraderie that I don't want to tamper with my gayness? Of course not. I will admit that I do like the male space. Perhaps some of the guys I touch hands with are a tad homophobic (I don't know, because it's never come up); I'd rather not broach the subject just to "educate" them. The school is on Capitol Hill in Seattle, so homophobia would be a little out of place, anyway.
I've been pretty much "out" since I was 15. By pretty much, I mean that I have to come out in every new sphere because I tend to pass for straight, and some places I choose not to be out. The martial arts school has been one of those places. Even when I've gone to gay clubs, guys there have asked me if I'm gay, and I'm like, "What do you think I'm doing at a gay club?! Of course I'm gay!" It was funny at first, but at this point in my life it's kind of annoying.
At age 28, I'm tired of coming out. It feels like a hassle. Probably if it comes up again with my sifu, I'll say something rather than leave him making irrelevant comments. It's not so much that I'm gay, but that I'm already settled with someone.
As a side note, Wing Chun -- although made famous by practitioners like Yip Man and Bruce Lee -- is fabled to have been developed by a Buddhist nun. The art is equally suited for women and older people as it is for young men, and I don't mean that to be politically correct, but it was literally developed with a smaller person's frame in mind. When I think about that, it really puts into perspective the idea of a martial arts space as a "male space." In the fantasy novel I'm writing, one of themes I plan to explore is how martial arts gets gendered.