Sure, there’s no denying that we’re maligned and discriminated against by mainstream society, but what we also need to consider is some of the deep seated segregation we continue to perpetrate within our own ranks.
Most of us equate discrimination with the workplace and certainly there’s much to validate that view. One of my close friends at work and a “brother” was up for the CEO job at our hospital. He had so many degrees and years of experience that if each one of them represented an inch, he’d be a size queen’s ultimate fantasy. But he was also open about his sexuality, not a flamer, but honest. A fatal mistake when you work for a Church –sponsored organization. Voila, he was passed over for a jerk who, in six months, pushed my friend out. Two years later, our hospital went bankrupt. Hello?
But I think the biggest symbol of society’s discriminatory finger is something most of us ironically beam about. Our respective gay ghettos. If we aren’t among the lucky few who can claim them home, don’t we flock to them on the weekends if we live nearby, or fly to one of those sacred meccas for vacation? Places like New York’s Hell’s Kitchen or Chicago’s Halstead or Andersonville, or L.A.’s West Hollywood or Lauderdale’s Wilton Manors? (I intentionally left out San Francisco’s Castro and Miami’s South Beach because I think they’ve gone way too mainstream and resting on their past laurels.) No matter if rents or real estate prices are artificially inflated, or some of the shops or restaurants rip us off, owned or run as they often are by straights exploiting the Almighty Gay Dollar. We feel we’re home.
Ah, but isn’t this exactly where Straight Society, the SS, wants us to be? And stay? Neatly compartmentalized and away from its world. The SS doesn’t want us polluting its squeaky clean, God fearing neighborhoods or coming in contact with its sweet, innocent kids who know more about sex at 8, thanks to the Internet, than I did at 20. And when some of us decide to venture into the SS world for very practical reasons, like better buys on homes and condos and more reasonable prices in its stores and supermarkets, don’t we feel just a bit uneasy if we wear “those” shorts when we mow the lawn?
Yet even more insidious is the segregation or Gay Gap from within. And I’m not even talking about the dagger looks a gay guy gets if he should venture into an all girls hideout, or the two token blacks in a sea of white, abet, tanned faces. Walk into any generic gay bar on a Saturday night and it’s pretty evident. We’re all huddled together in our own little enclaves like Conestoga wagons facing the Indians. The juiced up butch guys, with their chest hairs intentionally pulled out from their tight tank tops, stay ten yards from the twinks, the twinks or queens, with their 22 inch waists and fifty dollar polos, are ridiculing the Bears as Jenny Craig failures, the old are envious of the young, the young are laughing at the old, and on and on and on.
So, I ask you, are we any less guilty of the discrimination we blame straights for?