oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
[personal profile] oxymoron67

Like most LGBT folks, I’ve had to explain terms to my heterosexual friends, things like “bears”, “leather daddies”, “glory holes” and “rentboys”* and even non-queer specific things like “watersports”**.

*This one has always bothered me because I think allusion to prostitution is fairly obvious. Alas, no. One of my friends, someone who I think is intelligent, said, “Well, I figured you rented them for things like yard work or painting the house.”

**On this topic, I have actually had to say, “No, jet skis aren’t involved.”

This ignorance of all things queer comes in handy sometimes, though, such as in this tale from grad school.

One day, I received an e-mail that went something like this:

I am so angry with you right now that I cannot talk to you. YOU LIED TO ME! I was only asking honest, straightforward questions and you lied to me! You lied about all of it: the truck, the appetizers, the music. HOW DARE YOU? You clearly have no respect for me. People like you call me all sorts of names, but you’re the biggest bigots of all. I am going to pray for you. I am going to pray for you SO MUCH because you need God’s light and understanding in your evil, sinful life.


I’m working from memory here, and even so, this is a highly edited version of the real thing. The actual e-mail was roughly ten times as long, in one single paragraph, and roughly 0.00003% as coherent. I wish I had saved it because it was a blazing comet of crazy.

Why did I receive this e-mail? Well… a few days earlier, I was going up to my meet my boyfriend in his office in the French Department. My day was pretty much done, but he was finishing up some research and had run off to the library to pick up something.

I was left alone with one of his office mates: a nice woman, who, once she finished her Master’s degree was planning on working in refugee camps in Francophone West Africa. Oh, and she was VERY socially conservative. Let’s call her Sally.

Sally started a conversation with me:

Sally: I’ve always wanted to ask you… when did you decide to become gay?

Okay… just about every queer person I know has had this conversation at least once. It never goes well. I can only do the “I didn’t choose to be gay, I just am gay”/ “But you HAD to choose it sometime” exchange so many times before I lose my temper and some bigot’s feelings get badly hurt. Nothing is accomplished.

Knowing this, I went a different direction: to see how far I could push before her sense of disbelief kicked in. Thank God that I can deadpan well.

Me: Well, it happened when I was a freshman in college.
Sally: Really?
Me: Yes. I had just gotten out of a really bad relationship with a girl who lived in my dorm…
Sally: I’m sorry.
Me: Thank you. Well, I was out one night, when I saw these guys in leather pants and really tight t-shirts. They were out by this van, and blasting really great music on their boombox.
Sally: So you went over.
Me: Of course. And then they plied me with alcohol and poppers.
Sally (confused): You mean… like… appetizers?
Me: …
Sally: Jalapeño poppers, right?
Me: … Yyyyyyes. Yes. … And other appetizers, too. Buffalo wings… pot stickers… it was a nice spread.
Sally: I can see how that would be tempting.
Me: They lured me into the van, and next thing I knew, I was in this gay bar, gyrating on the dance floor, with a beer in one hand and some poppers in the other.
Sally: Those poppers must have been really good.
Me: They were DELICIOUS. Then, the smoke machine kicked in and the disco ball started spinning…
Sally: That must have been awful.
Me: Honestly, it’s all a blur. I was so disoriented. Then, at midnight, I was told that I was ready for initiation into the gay lifestyle.
Sally: Really?
Me: One of the guys from the van was chosen to take me.
Sally: They CHOSE for you? Terrible.
Me: I got to choose the music, though. I mean, there were only four selections: Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Cher or a medley of Sondheim tunes, but still…
Sally: Which one did you choose?
Me: Well, I eliminated Sondheim almost immediately. I mean, I was about to have my first gay experience, and “Send in the Clowns” would have just been inappropriate. I settled on Judy Garland. To this day, “The Trolley Song” still make me smile. He took me right there, on the dance floor, and ever since, I’ve been as queer as a three dollar bill.
Sally: Huh. Interesting. Thank you sharing this with me. It was so informative. Normally, you people get so upset when I ask about this.
Me: Glad to help.

Around that time, my boyfriend returned and we left. Over dinner, I told him what had transpired and he was appalled. According to him, I should have just argued with her, like he did. He said that what I did would just reinforce her beliefs.

I pointed out that his arguing with her didn’t make her change her mind, either, and, at least I could laugh about it this way. Also, if she brought this conversation up to others, talking about the van and the appetizers and all, she’d get the ridicule she so richly deserved. He remained unconvinced.

My boyfriend told her the truth the next time he saw her.

He was a real killjoy sometimes.

Sally never really spoke to me again. I mean, we’d say hello in the hallway or when I was in the office she shared with the boyfriend, but we never had another conversation. Which suited me fine.
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October 2013

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