I just got home from work and am sitting with my feet up, eating a simple lunch and reflecting on some different things that I have learned from other people in the past few days. I cannot say I have fully grasped what they have spoken into my life and in many ways the ideas do not sit all that comfortably with me, but once I have a bit of distanced from the conversation and am able to examine the message without all the emotional load attached, I am beginning to realize at least a part of what they have told me is true. I thought I might as well sit down and try to write a bit of it out, not that others will find them as profound as I have, but in a effort to truly grasp what I am attempting to grasp from them.
I got called a faggot this week by someone I consider a friend. It was not used as a term of endearment or in a joking friendly way, in the manner that we sometimes do in my circle, but rather, it was loaded with hate and venom and still stings and upsets me. This is basically what was said to myself and another friend at a car club meet.
"Seriously though, I don't like hearing about two dudes pretty much fucking each other. I was raised by a man, therefore will act like a man. It's the PUSSIFICATION of America that people like you support that ruins this country. Whether it be by God, or my opinion, you can go to Hell. FAGGOT."
" Why do gays get to be all up in your face about it? A gay man will never be as manly as me because I get pussy, and I LOVE it. You know? That good old thing that that women have between their legs. Until two men can reproduce, I don't want to hear it. Gays can speak their mind all day, and they usually do. But when I (the typical American) give my .02 cents about it, I am deemed ignorant. I don't care if they are flamboyant or timid about their homosexuality, I just don't want to hear the details about their love life."
"I am not back peddling here. You want to be flamboyant, you get called a FAGGOT. You want to be attracted to the opposite sex, you are gay. No different than being black or a nigger, white or white trash, Mexican or a beaner and so on and so forth."
Basically how this conversation came about was a bunch of friends and guys from my car club got together for a drive and cruise since the weather has been so nice. We all were standing around talking about whatever and some of the guys were discussing their relationships. My friend (the only other out gay guy in this car club) was in the conversation and related a story about a awkward moment that had happened with him and another guy this last week. The story he told was not sexually graphic and related to what the other guys were talking about, namely, sleeping with a person who said they are single only to find out later that they had lied. After he said his piece and asked for advice (he works with the boyfriend of the guy he slept with who lied about being single) one of my friends completely flipped out on him. I tried to reason with him and he turned on me. He was being completely unreasonable and hateful about homosexuality and wouldn't even back down when our other str8 buds told him to can it.
Now these are guys I have built cars with, hung out at the lake with over the summer, been in their homes for dinners and spent time and life with. Even the guy that called me a faggot and told me I was destroying this country was someone I considered my friend. I helped him install the engine in his Mustang and have helped him in the past with concrete work and other odd jobs. He is a good guy, has a great girlfriend and we all have got along and then BAM! He flips out.
The lesson I learned? Sometimes you don't know people as well as you think you do and even those you consider friends can actually be bigoted, racist people. It only takes some trigger to make them speak their mind and when they do, no one wins. This is why silence about ourselves can be so damaging to ourselves and others. Hiding who we are does no one any favors but it will be a long time before things are truly equal in this country. Sadly, I served in the military to defend the very freedoms that allow this guy to spew hate and vitriol at me. I pointed this out to him but he did not care. He felt that by us talking about our lives, as everyone else in the group was, that we were being "flamboyant" and "shoving it in his face". If you knew me or my gay friend, nothing could be further from the truth. If we were so flamboyant how did he know us both for two years and never grasp that we were gay? It had never come up in conversation and really isn't important unless it does become a point. I truly thought I was going to have to physically defend myself and my friend at one point because the discussion got so heated. I was upset and my and my friend just left without going on the cruise. I will have to think long and hard about hanging out with him again, knowing how he feels but I am thankful for all my good friends who did speak up for me and my friend. This double standard that this country runs by is not fair or equal. It is okay to be gay as long as I don't actually do anything gay or ever, ever mention it. Is that how str8 people live? Not at all! They are always referencing their sexual orientation each and every day, with their dating, their stories, their marriages, their children. It is heterosexuality being shoved in my face and I am just supposed to take it and keep my mouth shut? Where is the equity in that? This hate comes from one place...the Church, but that is another blog post entirely.
Now for the good stuff, kind of. Something else that was pointed out to me this week as that I often speak and communicate as if my own personal opinions are actually facts and truth, not just my opinion. At first I was upset when my friend told me this, but I had to stop and think about it. Many times I do not know the difference between fact and opinion. It all seems and feels the same to me in my head. The way that I see things and believe about them IS my truth but I need to realize that other people see things vastly different and in my communicating with them in this manner, I often come across as an asshole or at least a very insensitive person with no empathy or regard for others peoples ideas, beliefs and opinion.
Lesson that I learned? It can be summed up in a good quote a friend sent me this week by Anias Zim.
"We do not see things as they are. We see things as WE are."
So that is what I am thinking about today as I eat my lunch. Being open and honest with people, despite their reactions is the only way to hope and build towards a day of true equality. Those who live in a closet hurt themselves and others. While I can appreciate all the reasons they may give for doing so, their lies that they base their lives on only serve to make others feel justified in the belief that we have something to ashamed about or keep a dark secret. The closet is not really a closet but a coffin, for it kills the person in it a bit each day and serves to keep their true self buried from others. I realize coming out is a huge decision and at times MUST be delayed for reasons of safety, dependence on parents or other life factors, but those who continue to live in an independent lie for their own comfort or the comfort of others are doing themselves and others a huge dis-service. If you are ashamed of who you are, the someone taught you to feel that way. When you live a lie due to that shame, you are telling the world that they are right and that the hate they point and pour on us for our sexual orientation is warranted.
That is all I guess. I have tons of things on my mind, these are just a few I was kicking around today. Hope you all are well and that you have a safe and Happy New Year! Michael and I are going to dinner at Bo-Ling with our friends and then to two different parties. I know we are going to have a blast though I am a bit nervous. His best friend from Atlanta and college is coming into town and while I know about him and he knows about me, we have never met. I hope I pass his approval! :)