July 2001


Hey everyone! It's Cameron-remember me? I wrote a column here for Oasis way back in February, and then you guys didn't hear another peep out of me. Sorry about that-it wasn't my intention to write just one article and then drop off the face of the planet... I actually did want to write more. However, I just forgot. Then I'd remember again, but whoops; it'd be the 24th or something and waaaaay past the deadline. So I'd say to myself, "OK, Cameron, you're gonna write one next month. That's it, get ready to write. You'll have it all ready by the fifteenth." And then what would happen? I'd miss the deadline again. So, it really wasn't my fault, honest! I'm just horrible with deadlines. (Ask my professors. They'll tell you all about it!)

Straight Friends and the Epiphanies of a Wedding Shower

Well, I have a whole lot of things I could probably write an article on, since I have several months' worth of ideas built up in the back of my brain, but what I really want to write an article on now is on my straight friends. "What?" some of you might ask in confusion. "Straight friends? Why?" Well, the answer's simple-I love them.

Now, straight friends are certainly not a strange concept to a gay person. In a world in which gay people are a definite minority, we're gonna have to run into straight people on a fairly regular basis, regular enough, even, that some are going to even become rather good friends. I've noticed, though, that with gay guys, the vast majority of their gay friends are girls, sometimes affectionately given the name "fag hags" (or, if you prefer, "fairy princesses"; my friend Sherree brought that term to my attention and I love it!). Yet even with all these straight girls that we can hang around with, check out guys with, and just generally have fun with, I've also, in careful observance of my interactions with them, noticed that there still seems to be a kind of void between us, a chasm that can't be crossed. Why? Because they are straight and we are gay. The same applies (perhaps even more so) with the straight guys that claim not to care that we're gay and so hang out with us anyway.

So what happens? I've noticed that gay guys tend to make friends with other gay guys then. This is natural, it's understandable. Yet then what happens (at least it's happened with the group of friends that I hang out with) is that even though we all have our own individual straight friends, they get relegated to the side, shoved into the background. It's like they become second-class friends. I've seen it happen so many times. A gay friend of mine will have made plans to hang out with a straight friend, but then he finds out that "the group" is doing something, like going to the gay bar (certainly not an uncommon occurrence here). What happens? He phones up his straight friend and then makes some excuse about not being able to go to Shrek with her, because he has no money until payday, or something like that. Or else, suddenly, all the world's social ills get tossed upon the shoulders of straight people. One of my friends is especially guilty for doing this. He'll be driving down the road, me strapped into the passenger seat beside him, and some driver will cut him off. "Argh!" he'll roar, "IDIOT! Don't you know the rules of the road?!" And then he'll mumble under his breath, "He was probably straight," like it was the worst possible thing in the world to be. Now, statistically, he's probably correct in making that assumption. However, that doesn't make it right. Just because the moron in the white Intrepid didn't know the rules of the road doesn't necessarily mean that he's straight, because, of course, ONLY straight drivers can suck at driving. That's a ridiculous thought. This kind of reverse prejudice makes me mad.

Of course, I'm not saying that I'm innocent of this behavior. I get pissed off at straight people who act like asses myself. I have one friend, Rob, who claims, loudly and quite publicly, that he has absolutely no problem with me being gay. However, it is obvious to anyone with eyes that he's only saying that because he's trying to be politically correct. Therefore, it's fun to mess with his him. Sometimes I'll hit on him, openly, in the middle of the cafeteria. You can see him getting nervous and extremely uncomfortable, yet he can't say or do anything like tell me to stop, because, in his mind, that would be discriminating against me and would ruin the public image of a liberal, open-minded supporter of "alternative lifestyles" that he has tried to make for himself. It's quite funny to watch (cruel, yes, but, like I said, I'm not immune to mocking straight people). The difference between my gay friends, and me however, is that I don't relegate my straight friends to a backstage, unimportant section of my life. I view them as being as integral as the gay friends-and, perhaps, even more so.

What made me come to this "shocking" realization was my trip back to my hometown this past weekend. Yes, it's small; yes, it's rednecked; yes, there's more conservative Christians per square meter than there are pixels on my computer screen, but it does have its benefits. After all, I spent the entire first 18 years of my life growing up there and making friends there, and so there's bound to be many a memory from that time. Why did I go back? Well, some of you may remember my friends Ethan and Amanda (mentioned in my last article), and how they're getting married. Anyway, Amanda's wedding shower was this weekend, and so almost every one of my best friends from school and from my home town were there, as well as a few other friends of theirs that I've only met once or twice but really gotten along with.

Now, for a side note: I am not a group person. I cannot really abide hanging out with large amounts of people at any time. I enjoy doing things with one other person, maybe two-three, at the absolute most-but after that, I sort of shut down. I retreat into myself and find a corner, and just kind of react to all the people laughing and engaging in activity around me. I just can't abide large groups of people. If it involves weekly meetings, a list of people's phone numbers, and/or matching T-shirts, you can pretty much count me out. The problem seems to be especially accentuated with my gay friends. One time my roommate for the summer, Richard, had a party inviting all of our gay friends over, and within a half hour, I couldn't stand it any more and had to retreat to my room. I don't know what it is, although my suspicions seem to be that it's because most of their conversations revolve around what I like to call The Big Three: Boys, Bodies, and Bars. Now, don't get me wrong, I like all of them-well, except maybe bars, for the aforementioned reasons above, as well as the fact that for medical reasons, I can't drink alcohol-it's just that I like a bit of variety in my conversations. So I don't like groups. Ka-peesh?

So, anyway, there's this wedding shower, and at the shower, there is something like 15 people, all staying over for two nights in a row and just generally having a frolicking good time. I fully expected to be able to handle about 5 minutes of it, and then end up feeling miserable for the next two days. After all, there was a large group of people, a conservative and rednecked hometown, and memories of being desperately and horribly in the closet. Yet what I had forgotten is that these people, even though they were straight, were some of the best friends I had ever had. That entirely changed the formula. Over the next two days, hanging out with all of them and just having fun, kicking back and being totally accepted for who I was-it was fantastic. Sure, I was gay. And they were straight. That didn't matter to any of us. What mattered was that we were all individuals who had come together as friends to just fool around and laugh and have enormous waterfights and play silly boardgames and just hang out before the stress of the actual wedding hits full-force in two weeks. Sly jokes about my homosexuality came up in fun, for sure, and I responded by either playing along or else firing back my own jokes about their heterosexuality. It was fantastic. I don't think I've ever had so much fun. Rather than feeling like I was not part of the group, instead, I felt like I was a puzzle piece that had snapped into its proper place. I realized that those people, those friends, the ones I've known for years and even the ones I was just getting to know, contribute something to me that I was desperately missing and needing in my life-balance. Over the past few months, the only friends that I've been hanging out with have been my gay friends, and, fun as they are, I think it still ended up being detrimental for me that I only spent time with them. I think all human beings, gay people especially, need the balance that comes from genuine, excellent, straight friends.

I love my straight friends, all of them. There have been hard times in our friendships-coming out to them was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do-yet I believe that they, as well as I, have grown from the experience. So I just want to say that when you're out there, living the gay life and experiencing the kinds of things that you and your gay friends may do, take time out to appreciate the straight friends that you have. You may just realize that they're more valuable to you than you at first thought they were. I'd also like to give a shout of appreciation, especially, to Ethan, Amanda, Clayton, Keri, Shauna, Trystan, Simon, Desiree, Katrina, Elisa, Patty, Janet, Kirk, and Shauna's mom; you made the weekend stellar. Let's hope the wedding can top it, eh?

That's it from me for the month; see you all next month-or whenever I remember the deadline on time!Cameron Dowling is a 20-year old English major at a Christian university in Edmonton, Alberta, where he reads a lot of classic books and writes a lot of pretty papers on those books (though he never seems to get them in on time). He also has a keen interest in Psychology, because he hopes someday to be able to learn enough about the way people think to manipulate them to his own nefarious ends. He loves to hear from anyone and everyone who would actually take the time to email him, so if you want to get in touch, write him at camerondowling@hotmail.com and he'll be all giddy - and possibly even write back.

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