I’m at the YMCA, just finished my workout and I’m waiting for my wife to get out of the locker room and I overhear a man complaining to the manager that an another man was staring at him in the showers. The janitor comes out and asks if it was me. I just look at him, he laughs, and goes to the locker room to find the “offender.”
The manager handles it as best he can. “You should have confronted the man about it,” he tells the irate gym-member.
“No,” the man replies, “You need to deal with it. I got kids who come to this gym and I’m worried about their safety.”
I shake my head. We’ve moved from homosexuality to pedophilia, and we haven’t even confirmed if the man in the shower was staring at this person because they are gay or because he was merely admiring his physical stature. It is a gym after all, cult of the body and all that.
As for me, I continue to pace, very self-consciously now, because for some reason the janitor considered me a suspect. Is there something gay about me? Do I walk funny? Give off some odd vibration?
It bothers me, but that fades, until, a month later, I’m in the local Barnes and Noble, looking for a book on Active X. A very tall, well-built man comes over and stares me down. Me being the pathetic socialphobe that I am, try to ignore him.
“I know why your here,” he says angrily, “I got you pegged. I got you all pegged.”
Like I said before, I’m a pathetic socialphobe, so I say nothing, just keep on looking at the programming books. I reason that I am experiencing a random encounter with someone who forgot to put on their aluminum foil hat this morning and the signals from illuminati are pouring in through their fillings and overriding their brain.
But I know this isn’t true. I know that this bookstore is a meet-market for homosexual men, possibly women too, but the men are the only ones I encounter. They have hit on me in the past, some have followed me around the store, making goo-goo eyes at me. It’s cute if you think about it, but this man standing over me at this moment was outraged.
Not only that, but he thought I was one of them.
The situation diffuses. Apparently I wasn’t the only person affected by his behavior and someone went to get the store manager. This big angry man sees authority coming and he vanishes from the store before he can be thrown out–but you can understand the title of this random thought now.
I hate homophobes, because homophobes hate me.
All in all, I would say I have had four such incidents in the last six months. Each one burning in my mind on the ride home from the bookstore. There were three stages to my thought-processes:
1. What is it about me that brings about this assumption? Is it the way I wear my hair? Buzzcut. No. Marines wear their hair the same way. Is it the way I walk? Compose myself in public? That can’t be it. I don’t prance, hold my wrists limp, or make any of the other stereotypical gay mannerisms. Is it the way I dress then? Hell no. No respectable gay man would be caught dead wearing a moth-eaten flannel shirt and clam-digger shorts.
It might be my body. I’m in good shape. Gay men are in good shape. Is the set of “men in good shape” in the “gay men” set? Or all “gay men” in “men in good shape” ?
This ridiculous reasoning led me to my next thought:
2. What is it about the homophobe that brings about this assumption? What does the world look like to someone so incredibly and irrationally threatened by another human being’s possible sexual preferences? What criteria do they use to figure out who is an who isn’t? Are they like gay men in that they are on the prowl for other gays, only with a different intent?
The world to such an individual must seem a lot like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I mean, hating homosexuals isn’t as easy as other prejudices. Blacks, Asians, Arabs, and Women are all much easier to identify. Homosexuals tend to look just like everyone else. So discerning the “enemy” out of a crowd of people relies entirely on intuitive reasoning rather than logical. How frightening and maddening a world that must be…
But then, we are talking about intolerant assholes here, which led me think about the third party in this environment:
3. What must the world be like for the homosexual, who must seek out companionship without raising the suspicions of the gay-bashers?
I was left to dwell on that one, putting myself in their shoes. It wasn’t too difficult, after all, I was just targeted by one of their predators. I was freaked out, felt suddenly uncomfortable about being in a public place. I was just looking for a book on programming, not something as complex as a potential soul mate.
I do not, nor have I ever, had a problem with homosexuals. They like to check me out at the gym, and I’m totally fine with that. In fact, I find it quite flattering. Gay men are far more particular than women when it comes to male body-types. If a gay man is undressing me with his eyes, then I’m doing something right.
Why am I okay with this? It probably has something to do with the fact that I am 100% all-American heterosexual manly-man, and I’m very comfortable with that. If a homosexual male hits on me, I use the same tactic many women have used on me in the past and casually mention my wife. If I didn’t have a wife, I would mention my girlfriend, or some girl I am interested in. If someone’s coming onto you, it’s very easy to slip in the statement, “I’m trying to get well-defined so I can hit on this girl who works at such-and-such.”
Only the identity-deprived react with outright hostility. Only someone with a very ego-centric worldview feels so threatened by someone else’s victimless actions that they feel victimized. Only someone lacking in personal social morals would dare to confront others in such a manner, would dare to infringe on their constitutionally-protected pursuit of happiness.
You see, I had no interest in this fight. Homo or Hetero, I didn’t care, but now I do. I’m on the homosexual’s side, because they aren’t the ones actively trying to destroy my personal happiness. The gay-bashers are; they are the ones trying to change the way I dress and act. The gays only want their right to live their way, not to change anyone else’s life.
I’m taking the homosexual’s side against the homophobes who threaten us all.