Dan Shortridge

October 1997

A Straight Guy In A Gay World (I only wish)

Hi! My name is Dan, and I'm not queer.

That's right. I'm not homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual. I'm heterosexual. Straight.

I also happen to be white, male, raised a Protestant (although now I'm an agnostic) in an extremely conservative rural area of Delaware, and was homeschooled all my life. So, according to the traditional stereotypes, I should hate gays.

But I don't. Take a look at the title of this essay again. I wish that I was a straight guy in a gay world. That's because, in the six months that I've known that I have gay friends, I have learned more about life, living, and love than I had in all my seventeen years previous.

I'm now eighteen, in college in Ohio. I'm dating a beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful high school sophomore back in Delaware named Beth. (I'm also learning that while distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder, it also puts an incredible dent in one's phone bill.)

When my best friend Kristen came out to me back in April, it was a surprise to me, and I had some questions. But in the end it didn't matter. A week later, she came out to Beth. Since then, the three of us have become closer than I ever thought was possible. We have shared our pasts, our dreams of our futures, our likes and dislikes, our hates and our loves.

In June, we went to New York to see RENT. We have gone to Rehoboth Beach, DE (hated by rednecks for its large and active gay community): we've eaten at a gay cafe, shopped at a gay bookstore, wearing our freedom rings with pride. When I get home from college for fall break, we're planning on seeing Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck in "In & Out."

Note that in all of those instances above when I said "we," I meant the three of us: Beth, Kristen, and myself. We are inseparable; I couldn't imagine life without either of them.

When Kris told me she was gay, it changed how I saw her -- but only slightly. That's in no small part because she is a wonderful girl (or grrl, as she prefers), full of passion and energy, determination and drive, spunk, and a little bit of what I can only describe as an overwhelming love for all that makes it easy to love her back. And it was also due in part to the fact that I already knew her as Kristen; it wasn't very difficult for me to add "lesbian" to the long list of things I already knew about her.

And so it was easier for me to accept her being gay, and all the things that come with that self-recognition. I understood that in the future, Kristen and I would both have a girlfriend. I understand that years from now (assuming that both love and life are kind), Kristen and I would both be living with women.

Yet all of those technical details of relationships -- for that is what they are -- pale in the face of the love that exists between the three of us. I have realized that love knows now boundaries. Lesbians are not feminists suffering from penis envy; they are women who love women. Gay men have no secret desire to be castrated; they are men who love men.

To my fellow heterosexuals: One in ten people in America is gay. They are your neighbors, your firemen, your policemen, your teachers. They are your grocery store clerks, your childrens' playmates, your children themselves. They are you. Your gay friends -- and mine -- are a very close and personal reminder that love transcends all to conquer all.

Thanks for taking the time to read this; I hope you liked it. If you'd like to contact me, please do. Viva la revolution! Honor the rainbow.

All luck, honor, and love,

Dan, shortrdf@acs.wooster.edu

Kristen also writes for Oasis.

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