She hasn’t been working for us very long. And I hadn’t worked directly with her until this week, so I have valid reasons for not knowing her very well. To me she’s just been this incredibly talented, widely respected, freakishly busy, hugely pregnant producer I’ve made small talk with in the elevator a couple times.
So she was in my office yesterday to discuss the project I’m doing with her, and after we finished talking business, she lowered her voice to a whisper and asked me if the woman in the office next to mine is … gay. I’m not in the habit of outing people just to make conversation, but the woman in the office next to mine is openly gay and she competed (and won!) in the Gay Games and her gold medal was announced at the last company meeting, so I wasn’t exactly violating confidences when I told my visitor that my office is indeed in the company’s gay ghetto. (It takes just two homos in adjacent offices to make a ghetto. Look it up.)
But curious why a straight woman would want to know something like that, I asked her—jokingly—“Why? Are you?”
She looked at me as though I had just asked if she were black—she is—and said: “Hard core!”
And once again I was faced with the reality that my gaydar is as reliable as Ralph “China” Reed’s Christian integrity. (Anyone up for some casino gambling?) Just because my co-worker is pregnant, I ignored all the signs that she might be gay because lesbians never get pregnant.
But seriously, when I look at her as a gay woman, I still don’t really see that many clues. Which is either a sign of my obliviousness or of her just-like-everyone-elseness.
My views on gay assimilation are all over the map. If homosexuality were instantly recognizable (like skin color) I bet we wouldn’t suffer such vitriolic hatred from people too stupid to realize gay people are all around them. (I’ve seen many racists look around to make sure the room is “clear” before they launch into a black joke, but the homophobes dive right in with their fag jokes since they have no way of knowing how many of us are in the room.)
At the same time, I’m not a fan of big ol’ screaming queens—an opinion that used to come from my (what some people would describe as self-loathing, and today I wouldn’t disagree) position in the why-can’t-you-queens-just-act-normal camp, but is now more a product of the fact that I’m old and tired and people who bounce around and make a lot of noise irritate me simply because they bounce around and make a lot of noise, whether they’re six-year-olds, sorority girls, drunken bar patrons, disruptive bus passengers or big ol’ screaming queens. (And really, how can you get through my 90-word sentences when you’re bouncing around and making a lot of noise?)
Then again, if gay people were just like everyone else, the world would lose a lot of its texture: our creativity colored by our unique brand of oppression, our growing fearlessness in the face of bigotry, and the delightfully dark sense of humor we develop to laugh off the 24/7 attacks on our character and our morality and our worthiness to be treated as equal citizens.
If we assimilate we could be forced to embrace the same failure-prone marriage paradigm that straight people live—and divorce—under. But if we don’t assimilate we may never get the same rights and protections that paradigm provides.
If we assimilate we could perhaps eradicate the one tool—us—the Christian Hate Industry uses to rally the sleeping troops and mislead them into voting for monkeys who ironically haven’t yet evolved. But if we don’t assimilate we could undermine the growing zeitgeist of awareness and compassion that our struggles have also focused on other victims of oppression.
Wow. I didn’t mean to get all philosophical here; I was just writing a blog post about how much I suck at identifying fellow ’mos. But somehow I went off on a tangent. Imagine that.
But since I’m wandering, I’ll close with something seriously—but not entirely—unrelated: the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Stephen Sondheim:
Sunday, by the blue purple yellow red water
On the green purple yellow red grass.
Let us pass through our perfect park.
Pausing on a Sunday
By the cool blue triangular water
On the soft green elliptical grass
As we pass through arrangements of shadow
Toward the verticals of trees