What a letdown. If you're reading this, it means that the world did not self-implode and that the "y2k" thing never came to pass. Not that I believed it would, mind you. Just figured that maybe something would happen. And even though the new millennium doesn't actually happen for another twelve months (I know, "nobody likes a math geek".) I have been musing over the new possibilities.
In the spirit of this, I decided to try something new before the end of the world. (Like I said, it felt like a distinct chance.) I didn't know what I would try until I found myself standing outside of the neighborhood gay bar. (I live in Los Angeles, hence the "neighborhood" gay bar) Now this wasn't the first time I had been in a gay bar or even my first time with this particular bar; it was the first time I would attempt it sans friends, co-workers or enemies.
I say attempt because I never entered the bar. Instead I found myself standing across the street, in the dark of a broken streetlight, staring (longingly, I assume) at the open doorway, unable to move my feet. I only left when I realized that the doorman, whom had been peeking out, most likely thought I was either crazy or a basher or a combination of both.
That night, back in my apartment, as I warmed up (after several shots of whiskey) I tried to understand what had happened outside the club. I mean, I am a fairly cute, overly ambitious and somewhat self-confident gay man yet I couldn't enter a simple club by myself. There would be no bashers or parents or small children inside to make me feel uncomfortable, if anything I should be eager to enter such an environment. But I wasn't. I was afraid.
Now you think less of me. I mean, here I am telling everyone to be proud and to stand up for one's self yet I can't enter a simple doorway. Well, it's the truth. Just like I don't know any gay man who doesn't cringe a little when he sees that someone is noticing that he has picked up the latest copy of "The Advocate" at the newsstand. (Unless said individual is Brad, Leo or Matt and then well...) But really, most guys grab the magazine and make a beeline for the check out. Then they usually blush as they are rung up and aren't able to look the cashier in the eye. Sound familiar?
Don't get me wrong, I do it too. It doesn't matter where I am, I almost always feel a slight moment of unease when dealing with the most random aspects of my sexuality. Like family gatherings when they ask how things are going. Do I tell them that I haven't met Mr. Right but I now know the highest number of "straight acting" florists in the Los Angeles area? Should I offer my viewpoints on the latest "gay" (meaning mainstream) issue?
Or maybe they don't say anything about my lifestyle and so it becomes an unspoken agreement of silence. Kind of like the "don't ask, don't tell policy." I won't make them uncomfortable by bring up my homosexuality, just like I won't make strangers uncomfortable by openly flipping through 'The Advocate', and I will most definitely not make anyone uncomfortable by showing up at the local bar without a posse of either gay or gay-friendly persons.
The thing that these different scenarios have in common is that they are all based on a fear. A fear that being gay within itself is wrong and that by pursuing various aspects of it that we are running a serious threat of being judged by the world at large. I mean, why do you think that we as a group are so judgmental, (straight acting, fem) sarcastic (hello, Jack?!) and argumentative? Because we have been judged, ridiculed and forced into compliance by society at large.
But of course you're different. I mean, none of what I just wrote applies to you. I mean, the reason you beeline to the checkout with your magazine is that you never know when a basher might be lying in wait. And it is easier for you not to talk about the most recent time you were dumped or left or why you dumped or left what's-his-name; especially not over turkey with the family. And why would you want to go dancing by yourself anyway? How can you poke fun at the music, outfits and techniques with your gaggle of girls?
Now, I'm not saying that those reasons aren't justifiable and without merit but have you even wondered what might happen if you did the opposite? Do you honestly believe that some 'Jerry Springer' red neck will openly attack you in front of the Barnes and Noble newsstand? Would Dad's head really explode if you talked with Mom about how you left Will because he wouldn't stop cyber sexing with his ex? That maybe they will all point and laugh at you (ala "Carrie") when you show up at 80's night without the crew? Really?
See, when you think about it, really stop and consider it, none of those things will ever happen. Or if they do, it is the most random occurrence in the world, worthy of tabloid-movie-of-the-week status. Fear of judgment is a powerful thing and I don't mean that we should ignore the risks of being out because that would be reckless. However I do believe that we can handle things like the newsstand, family night and happy hour as open individuals. How we accomplish these small feats of everyday life can show others, our community included, that we have nothing to hide and that there is nothing to fear from the average homosexual.
I mean, really, how can we live in fear of judgment by the sixteen year old who rings us up or the people that conceived us in the back of their parents Ford or the gang of bitchy, slutty, out-of-work dancers from last year's Gay Pride Float? I mean, we as a society have evolved enough to handle these emotionally draining scenarios. Or if we haven't, then maybe we should restart the movement.
So openly read the 'Advocate' and don't just run home with it, tell your Grandma about the crazy night in Palm Springs with swimsuit model and learn how to enjoy a beer and a dance by yourself or, better yet, with a stranger. Maybe it will be me. (Unless I mercifully get hit by a truck crossing the road to get in. Or that Ben finally comes out...eh, eh, eh.) If we can all do this then we will change things. Promise.
Write me, kewl?! A picture will be here next month.