If I ever needed proof that I am an alien in human form, all I need do is walk past a straight bar, of which there are many in my neighborhood on this side of the border with Boystown. I would never willingly go into one—talk about standing out like a sore thumb. My last time in a straight bar was when I visited my friend Tony in Madison and he took me to his favorite neighborhood bar.
It was Baseball Night!!! (as opposed to Football Night!!! or Basketball Night!!!) And the place was packed with people with whom I might have felt some individual kinship and commonality under some other set of circumstances or in some other place. But massed together, enjoying…nay, reveling in…their unified bond of joyous heterosexuality, cheering wildly when good old Murphy (everyone in the bar knew every detail about every player on the home team—the Brewers…from Milwaukee, I’d judge, taking a wild guess) hit a double fly or whatever it is baseball players do which they considered worthy of cheering, I was totally overwhelmed. Lots of manly arm-punchings, high-fives (a strange bonding ritual—I loathe high-fives) and prolonged applause, whistling, and foot-stomping. Meanwhile I stood there, a guppy in the shark tank, not having a clue as to what all the fuss was about, and having absolutely no interest in finding out.
Oh, and there was also a billiards/pool tournament going on to add to the general merriment. I can at least grasp the concept of pool if not be overly drawn to actually playing it.
So there they were, men, women, husbands with their wives, guys with their buddies, guys with their “chicks” (do they still use that word?): the very essence of the world to which I do not belong and in which, from the moment I realized I was “different” (I love euphemisms), it was made abundantly clear I was not wanted.
And yet, even as I rant and rave against “them” I realized that my parents and all my relatives, whom I love dearly, are, after all, “them”, too, and that this was simply the straight equivalent of a gay bar. I feel (or felt, before the years began pointing their finger at me and whispering “Go away: you’re not wanted here!”) totally at home in a gay bar, and can well imagine an innocent heterosexual stumbling into one unawares feeling pretty much the way I feel in their bars. Being raised in a culture which too long has considered me and those like me less than human, I am far too intolerant and critical of straights, and am, I am ashamed to say, often as bigoted against heterosexuals as they are against me. Yet I fully expect them to accept me and my lifestyle as totally natural and comfortable. And therein we have a perfect definition of the word “hypocrisy.”
But the fact remains that I am and have always been deeply bitter at the general heterosexual attitude of superiority-by-birthright…of total smug assumption of their dominance and their inalienable and indisputable right to be dominant…of the vast majority of heterosexuals, and of how blithely unaware they tend to be of the fact that theirs is not the only sexual orientation within the human species.
I saw a tee-shirt once that I think sums it all up pretty well: “How dare you assume I’m heterosexual?”
But, hey, I’m not really bigoted: some of my best friends are heterosexuals.