On the John
How to live with gay people
Originally completed April 22, 2009
You know what I don’t like about the gays? Their sex. Kind of icky, right? Two men kissing, their beards brushing together as they caress each other’s biceps or abs or whatever. Chicks too. Not really a fan of all that. Not the heterosexual male’s version of a “lesbian,” but true female companions who have no interest in men, who reduce our parts to plastic play-things and do crazy things with their fists…yikes! Gay sex, man! Gay sex. What a curious, off-putting enterprise.
Of course, that’s my problem, not theirs. To quote the wonderfully poetic words of Peter Boyle’s “Wizard” in Taxi Driver: “Look, I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home, behind closed doors. This is an American free country. We got a pursuit of happiness thing. You’re consenting. You’re adult…God love ya! Do what you want!”
My sentiment exactly, Wiz.
Although I’d like to do the Wizard one better by clarifying his commonly expressed position of acceptance: “the privacy of your own home” MUST extend to the privacy of being in public.
If my lady and I choose to walk the street holding hands, or do a bit of necking in the park, we should not have to worry about abuse, about accusations of “flaunting our heterosexuality.”
In fact, since straights have the social freedom to express their sexuality in public wherever they choose, one could make a better case against straights for “flaunting” their respective sexuality than gays for flaunting theirs. Gays can’t get away with half the public sexual acts that I’ve seen straights regularly tangled in, and while it has never been my intention to do so, intentions don’t change the fact that every time I kiss a woman in public, as sweet and loving and inoffensive as that kiss may be, I am reminding any gay who might be watching, “I can do this without fear of being physically or verbally attacked. And you can’t.”
To me, it all goes back to what I told my roommate Ken just before he moved into one of the vacated rooms in my apartment.
Ken had responded to my craigslist ad, and when he came over to look at the place, we hit it off immediately. Cool guy, psychology student, works as a probation officer. As nice as nice can be, and yet a totally bad ass dude.
No seriously—it was his first week in the place, early evening, a weekday night. We were watching the news. Suddenly, we heard kids outside busting all of the side view mirrors of the parked cars. Before my scrawny little self could decide how to sidestep that particular problem, big dude Ken was over at the window firing off a strongly worded sentence that the kids rightly interpreted as more than just an empty threat. He walked back to the couch with a Bruce Willis smirk, “dusting off” his hands as the punks scurried off.
So that’s Ken. And Ken is gay. He told me this just before he signed the lease, because despite how well we’d gotten along, and despite his successful background check and credit score, he was concerned that I might not be keen on living with a gay guy. He phoned me: “Jack, before we get settled, I thought I should tell you something. My friends always say it’s nobody’s business, that I shouldn’t have to seek permission for who I am, but if we are sharing an apartment, I thought you should know. I am gay.”
I thought a bit before responding. Because when a person comes at you like that, puts himself on the line and effectively serves himself up for your judgment, he deserves more than just a rote response. And so I told him:
“First of all, you didn’t have to say that. I mean, I understand why you felt you should, but with me, you don’t have to justify yourself like that. But I appreciate it. And more to the point, I respect it, because there is nothing about me that I feel obligated to tell people simply for their own comfort. I’m not sure how I would deal with it if there was.”
Then I thought a bit more, before adding:
“And as for how your being gay affects our sharing this space, I’ll just say this: you don’t want to come home one night and see me fucking in the living room anymore than I want to see you fucking in the living room, anymore than either of us want to see Rob fucking in the living room. You chilling with your dude in the living room, you two cooking dinner in the kitchen, a kiss here and there—obviously that’s cool. If for some reason something about your just being gay weirds me out, it’s up to me to get over it. But so long as you keep your actual sex private in the privacy of your room and I do the same—so long as we both keep it respectful, I’d say we’re all good.”
And that is the end of the story.
Copyright 2009, jm silverstein
From February 26, 2004: Civil unions? That’s so gay!
More of On the John on American issues