Why are you playing the Pronoun Game

For those who have not seen Chasing Amy, the pronoun game refers to when someone is avoiding gender specific details about their relationship, such as he/she, him/her, hers/his pronouns, in conversations with other people, tacitly avoiding the reveal of sexuality. The problem is, grammar and good rhetoric standards begin to fail you, as your language becomes awkward or dishonest in its wordiness.
At first it seems easy.
“Oh I started seeing someone. We met at a Wilco concert.”

When you describe HER, you speak in sentence fragments of adjectives.
“Really attractive. Smart. Funny. Sweetest person I’ve ever met.”

Then, of course, people will ask questions.
“He sounds perfect,” they will say. “So what does the guy do?”

This is when your game reaches a more challenging level. In some cases, you may have the security of her unisex name.
“Avery is a chiropractor.”
Sometimes, you get a bit more deceptive.
“Val(erie) is an accountant.”

And if all else fails, resort to the surname.
“Oh, (Maggie) Smith woks in insurance.”

In the early stages it seems like you are in the clear, but then it begins to sound like you are reading aloud a homework problem from a fourth grade English workbook.

“Taylor is great. Taylor is very nice to me. Taylor takes me to dinner and they always compliment my appearance. I see a big future with this person. I really like them. “

Circle the grammatical errors and for extra credit, underline the conversationally weird parts.

It does not take a fourth grader to realize that this sounds suspicious as hell.

As proud as I am of my gayness, I am sorry to say that I still play this game sometimes. But the experience never changes. The game sucks. It is burdensome and when you finally can’t play it anymore, you just look and feel like a closet case and a liar.

You may think to yourself, Oh I’m just rephrasing the truth. That’s not lying, which means you are not only lying to people but you are lying to yourself as well. When I talk like this, I fell like I’m hiding two huge parts of who I am: the lesbian and the English major.

Let me conclude with the obvious moral here. The accurate, direct, non-white lie, not awkward, grammatically correct truth will set you free.

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About Casey

Casey is a creative writing student at DePaul university. She enjoys reading, writing, and taking long walks around the city of Chicago.


6 Responses to “Why are you playing the Pronoun Game”

  1. Thank you Casey – love it…..

    Posted by K Guzman | March 27, 2012, 2:30 pm
  2. I love the “refer to their surname”…I giggled…its funny…I played the game so long…I still catch myself calling my fiancee my “friend”…ugh… great read…witty!

    Posted by Meg | March 27, 2012, 2:35 pm
  3. It’s a pain in the ass! my wife had surgery recently and at work when talking to people about being out for a couple of days, having to say “my spouse is having surgery and I am playing nurse” sounds awkward. majority of my co-workers know I am married to a woman, but those that I deal with in other cities don’t.

    the awkwardness continues when they ask if “he’s having anything serious” and I just answer “oh nothing serious, just something that had to be taken care of”. the wife had an endometrial ablation for her heavy periods. can’t really say “he’s having an endometrial ablation” lol lol

    Posted by Liliana | March 27, 2012, 3:27 pm
  4. AMEN Casey!

    Posted by Karen | March 28, 2012, 2:19 pm
  5. Uh, you could’ve used Casey instead of Avery LOL :))

    Posted by Karen | March 28, 2012, 2:19 pm


  1. […] bended the truth. I played cards that hid my secret without actually having to lie to them–think the pronoun game when attempting to hide the sex of the person you’re seeing. I told Grace after she was fired […]

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