Why I’m Here… Working


In March of my junior year I started working at Rita’s of Houston Heights, my favorite ice cream shop. I started going there the moment they opened for their Dr. Pepper Italian Ice. My cousin and I would ride our bikes in the summer and beg our parents for just a couple dollars to buy some of it. As amazing as the italian ice is, it has been surpassed in significance by the experience I have had while working there.

When I applied for the job, I did not realize that the owners were a gay couple; I assumed they were just accepting (allies I suppose) of the community because of the OutSmart magazines they carry and the Gayest and Greatest awards that adorn the walls. My first day at work, when I heard my boss call his husband “babe” was a bit of a shock.

You might be thinking, “Wow. Is it really that big of a deal for your employers to be a gay couple?” and to that I firmly reply, “Yes.”

See, representation matters. It makes me feel hope for a future where I marry the love of my life, whether they are a woman or a man. It makes me feel hope to see a gay couple that does not conform to any of the stereotypes the media perpetuates about gay couples. They are not flamboyant and they do not listen exclusively to Katy Perry (although they do enjoy her music). They go to the Rodeo every year, they love country music, and they drive a truck. These are all things that, to my somewhat closed mind, gay men do not usually do. If they can be so independent from the stereotypes associated with homosexuality, then that means I can too.

I remember the day I finally mentioned my relationship to my bosses. We were making our usual small talk while cleaning or making ice cream and I said something about bringing my girlfriend to Rita’s on my day off and how she loved the birthday cake ice cream. They continued the conversation without so much as a pause at what I had just revealed.

Later that night, though, one of my bosses commented, “You’ve never mentioned your girlfriend before, but I’m glad that you felt comfortable enough to talk about her.”

I left work that day wondering why I did not mention her sooner. I think the reason for my delay was because of the way I had been treated by gay men in the past. Many times I have mentioned being in a lesbian relationship to older gay men and they respond with annoyance. To them I am just another young pretty girl who is lesbian for now but will be straight for the rest of her life because “it’s just a phase”. Additionally, many gay men have told me that I only date girls because straight men think two women together is sexy. To those men I am interfering with the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights because they believe I am only in it for the sex appeal. This sentiment could not be further from the truth.

So that is why I am here… working. The significance of my job is not a monetary one, rather it is an emotional and social one. I feel accepted at Rita’s. By working there I have been taken in as a member of a larger community that respects and values my input.