2005 8 March :: 10.31 pm
Imagine, if you would, being adopted by a gay couple as a baby. Suspending any judgments or questions about how and why, imagine your feelings if your primary caregivers were either two lesbian women or two gay men. Pick one or the other couple and get in touch with your feelings.
These people love you very much and are proud of you. You love them too and want them to be proud. These men or women nursed you when you were very sick, walked you to your first day of school, taught you to read, bought you your first bicycle. What would that be like?
What would it feel like if these gay people had other children, too--children who identified themselves as gay? Your older brother has a boyfriend with whom he holds hands. You have seen your older sister kiss her same-sex date. What would that feel like?
And what would it feel like if all others thought you were gay, too? Not only do they think you are gay, they expect you to be gay. In a variety of ways, they let you know that if you want to make them proud, if you want to make them happy, if you want to be always welcomed, you will one day bring home someone of the same sex. They are counting on you to be gay. How do you feel and who do you tell how you feel?
Let's leave the house. You are fourteen years old and heading to your first day of high school. Remember that day? You are sitting next to your best friend on the bus. The bus driver has a song on the radio and all of the kids are singing the words to the song. You know the words and you are singing at the top of your lungs, "I'm gay. I'm gay. I'm gay!"
Without figuring out how and why it would work, how would it feel to be fourteen years old, sitting next to your best friend who is gay and who thinks you are too, singing a gay song the gay bus driver has turned up loud on the gay radio station? How would it feel if every song you ever heard was written by one gay person to another? What if every book you ever read, every movie you ever saw, every billboard you ever passed featured the beauty and joy of gay love? How do you feel and who do you tell how you feel?
Now, not everyone is a healthy, happy homosexual. There are people who are thought to be sexually obsessed with people of the other sex. The very thought could make you sick. These people are technically called heterosexuals, but most folks refer to them as "breeders." "Make love not breeder babies," the bumper sticker says. Once, when a local group of breeders tried to get legislation passed so they would not lose their jobs or apartments for being straight, you actually saw a sign that read: "Kill a breeder for Christ."
In seventh grade your best friend whispered in your ear that "God would vomit in the presence of breeders." That same year, someone wrote in Magic Marker on the john wall, "Kelly is a breeder," and no one sat with Kelly all week in the school cafeteria. In eighth grade, the boy suspected of being a breeder was teased incessantly and was always the first one hit in the head with the dodge ball during gym. The girl suspected of being a breeder had her locker trashed on a regular basis. How do you feel and who do you tell how you feel?
Your homeroom teacher is gay. The principal is gay. Your guidance counselor is gay, and the librarian is gay. Everyone thinks you are, too.
You go to college, hoping things will be different. Please let it be different. In college there is a group of breeders just like you who are brazen enough to have weekly meetings in the student union. But everyone makes fun of them. No one wants to share a room with them. No one wants to sit with them in the cafeteria or have them in their social groups. Some people actually get up and move if a breeder sits next to them in class. The posters announcing their meetings are defaced or torn down. So keep on your mask. Stay in the closet. Date someone of the same sex. You are now expected to french kiss. You are now having gay sex. Such pressure to conform. How do you feel? Who can you tell?
As a senior you are walking down the street and at the gay newsstand on the corner you see a gay man pointing and laughing at something. He is pointing and laughing at a tiny stack of newspapers that say Heterosexual News. There are people with the same sick secret you have who are organized enough to put out a newspaper, and this man is laughing at it. When he moves on, you reach down, grab the breeder newspaper, grab two gay magazines to hide it, put down more money than the three of them cost, don't look the man behind the counter in the eye, don't wait for your change, hurry home to your room, lock the door, think of a hiding place for this piece of trash because if your roommate discovers it you are out on your ear, and read about yourself for the very first time. Read each word carefully.
On page 6 you see an advertisement for a bar located in your college town that caters to people just like you. Every night of the week when you are with gay friends pretending to be gay yourself, heterosexual men and women are gathering in this bar. You decide you have to see for yourself. Not once have you ever met another heterosexual person. Whatwill they be like?
You sneak away from your gay friends and go to the bar. You enter nervously and order a quick drink. Then another. Then another. Fortified enough to look around the room, you see men dancing with women. Men and women are laughing and talking and holding hands and putting their arms around each other. Initially it scares you, but strangely enough you feel at home.
The attractive person of the other sex who has been smiling at you from the other side of the bar finally gets up the nerve to walk over and introduce him - or herself to you, and offers to buy you a drink. You talk nervously at first and then with excitement. You say it is your first trip into a bar like this. "Is it safe?"
"The police used to raid it and take us all down to the station every so often, but they leave us alone pretty much now," he or she explains. "Would you like to dance?"
The next day your gay friends say, "Boy, are you in a good mood. Where were you last night?" All day long, all you can think about is the bar, your new friend, and how comfortable you felt being surrounded by people just like you. You return over and over. You spend a lot of wonderful time with your new friend--with your new love. You can't stand to be apart from your friend. You want to introduce him or her to your gay friends and to your gay family, but you are afraid. You don't want to lose your family or friends, but you don't want to lose your new love, either. Keep your secret.
Eventually, the two of you get an apartment together. It has to be a two-bedroom apartment because the gay landlord would never rent a one-bedroom apartment to a man and a woman. That would be sick and disgusting. Besides, how would you ever be able to entertain your gay friends and gay family? So you stretch your dollars and rent a two-bedroom apartment. You put your possessions in one bedroom and your lover puts his or her things in the other, and you close the shades at night and hide your breeder books and newspapers when you leave for work because you can't risk losing this honeymoon heaven you have found for yourself.
No one at work knows about your friend--not your boss, not your office mate. His or her picture is not on your desk. You don't call each other at work. You attend office social functions alone or you bring a gay date. You panic when people start talking about holiday or weekend plans, when they attempt to fix you up with their gay brother or lesbian sister, or when someone tells a breeder joke.
It's okay. You can survive it, you think. You're fine. It isn't fun, but it's tolerable. And then one day you are walking home and a stranger asks you how your friend is doing. "Did your friend make it?" they ask. "How horrible it must be." You sense tragedy. No one called you. How could they? You insisted that your lover not carry your name in his or her wallet. What if the wallet was stolen? People would find out.
Finally you find your friend on the other side of a plate-glass window in the intensive-care unit of a local hospital. With eyes swollen shut, he or she fights for life alone because no one told you. Your first impulse is to rush in, take his or her hand, kiss it gently, and say, "I'm sorry. No one told me. I'm here. Hang in there. I love you," but you quickly remind yourself that the gay doctors and gay nurses who are attempting to bring back out of critical condition the love of your life presume they are working on a homosexual. What would their reaction be, you wonder, if they knew that this person is a breeder? How would that affect them? Should you do anything that would reveal the secret?
Do you go into the intensive-care unit, or do you sit outside and wait. In either case, can you call your gay boss or your gay office mate and come out at that time? Can you tell them you won't be into work the next day and why? Can you ask that someone come down and sit with you? How do you feel and who do you tell how you feel?
2 We pass the time of day to forget |
how time passes...