Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wanted: Replacement Homosexual

I wouldn't say that I'm flamboyant, (perhaps others will say that for me) and I'm not sure one could tell just by looking at me that I'm gay. Although a thespian, I'm not what one would call "straight-acting" (but I have played one on stage). I'm just your normal homosexual.

One time a woman I know from the train was throwing a holiday party at her home and was happily insistent that I attend. "Chuck, you have to come to my party! I won't take no for an answer."
"Sure," I said "can I bring my husband?"
"I don't care!" She announced, waving her drink, "Bring your wife."

Okay, we've established that she was drinking. So I'm not surprised she confused the noun gender or even that she forgot about the whole conversation, which was repeated - almost verbatim - twice more in the weeks approaching her shindig. What does surprise me is that after polite conversation with my husband at the party she turned to a mutual friend, "I didn't know Chuck was gay!"

How could she NOT know?

Later, that same month, I was determined to be out of the commuter parking lot before the man who normally holds that position. I wore a loose tank top, shorts and hiking boots for the sprint. It was quite an event, (enough for another entry) and many of the commuters on the train pressed against the window to watch.

Guy-1 commented that "He," he said, meaning me, "looks kinda gay dressed like that." and when another rider quickly confirmed, "You didn't know?" it pretty much changed the dynamics of our future conversations.

Once Guy-1 knew I was gay, anything he'd say that could possibly (in his head) be misconstrued as having even the slightest interest in the queer nation, had to be immediately followed with a nervous assurance "But I'm not gay."

"Hi, Chuck. I'm not gay."
"Okay, Guy-1."

I've had to constantly reassure him that I'm happily married, he's not my type BECAUSE he's straight, I have no interest--how many times and ways can I express that I'm not going to jump him when he least expects it?

When people know you're gay - they'll act and react in a variety of ways - complete comfort, morbid curiosity, violence, hidden interest, fear, indifference, secret camaraderie, condemnation, etc. -- a list as long and diverse as there are people.

Overwhelmingly, though, it's men who are the most uncomfortable.

Guy-2 used to press himself as close to the wall as he could when I passed down the narrow train aisle. "Hey, hey! Not too close, huh? I'm not like that!"

I started doing the same thing when he had to pass. "Hey! Keep your distance. I'm not straight and I don't want to catch it. Just keep moving. No means no!"

Do they believe that because they are so (in their minds) incredibly attractive, homosexuals couldn't keep control in such close proximity and would immediately attack? Are they insecure within themselves? Is their perspective only a demonized stereotype?

"Well, Chuck, how should I know? I don't know any gay people."

Yes, you do! You are surrounded by homosexuals - the topic just doesn't come up. Some people take great precautions to keep closeted because they fear repercussion from ignorant people. But look around you! They say one in ten people is gay. That means it's a good bet that 10% of the people you know is - you know what. And if you know what, then you know gay people. At the office, at the bank, at the bar-you just don't know that they're gay because they don't play the stereotyped, demonized role that you get from movies and pulpits.

It bothers me some people can be just plain ignorant and it bothers me that some people choose to remain closeted in fear of those ignorant people. How else will the ignorant people learn?

Here's what I do -- be myself. I know that there is a very real threat, but I'm a confident, comfortably out homosexual in a very public setting, and because of this, I have helped to change some minds about gays -- even Guy-1 and Guy-2. And that's a start.

I'm not going to be on the commuter train for much longer - so, we need someone else to step forward and be the token homosexual. How else will they learn? Please apply in person, 2nd car from the end, upper level, bring beer and a joke of the day - but don't be too good looking or witty - I need you to pale in comparison to the memory of me.


Anonymous said...

You're gay?! Can you help me with my home decor?

Stuart said...

If you were gay

That'd be okay

I mean 'cause hey

I'd like you anyway