After a week surrounded by two million LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Toronto last month, Tats headed off to a small town in another province this month for a flight-related job, and the contrast couldn't be starker: In Ontario, we just elected our first female premier, who also happens to be a lesbian. In PEI, Canada's last province to bring about marriage equality, real live same-sex married couples are few and far between. To complicate matters further, aviation is a notoriously homophobic industry as it is (although the tides are slowly turning even in the cockpit, it would seem).
So, being a female pilot is challenging enough. Being a gay female pilot on PEI is a whole other level of interesting. Additionally being the only flight instructor on the island, surrounded by straight, male pilots, most of whom have probably never flown with a woman or an LGBTQ pilot before, is something else entirely!!!
Having flown out there for a few summers now, I can honestly say that most of the guys are great and lots of fun. And the flying community -- many of whom are eager to upgrade their ratings and have been desperately awaiting the arrival of a flight instructor -- has been super supportive of Tats' arrival on the island.
But when one of them tells her she's "cute" and has a "sexy" name, I want to POUNCE on him and yell, "dude, that's MY girlfriend -- BACK OFF!"
Having had the luxury of being "out" now for almost three years, I sometimes forget that there are places -- even in Canada -- where some people don't understand the concept of homosexuality and same sex couples. Could it be that this guy really doesn't know that his flight instructor "flies for the other airline", so to speak???!!! ;-P
Anyway, Tats -- ever the professional -- wasn't sure how to handle the situation, and just threw her hands up in exasperation as she shared the tale with me. So, in the absence of a good, old-fashioned, in-person street scrap, where I stick up for my girl and beat the other guy up, let me send a virtual message in no uncertain terms:
Sorry to burst your bubble gentlemen, but this flight instructor likes WOMEN -- more specifically, she likes loud, obnoxious German women who also happen to be teachers and mothers of twins. She likes them even when they seem to miss the bigger point, and focus instead on whose girlfriend she is rather than on her right to work in a professional environment free from harassment and pick-up lines regardless of gender!