I’m not referring to the deeply entrenched Reaganized Religious Right who hate us (God loves a sinner but they hate us); no, I’m talking about the millions and millions of us gay folk, guys and gals, who lead remarkably unassuming, unflamboyant, some would even say, boring lives, nothing like the glitzy portrayals in the gay or mainstream media or entertainment world.
Depending on whom you believe, Kinsey, the U.S. Census Bureau, which sneakily extrapolates how many of us there are through counts of solo or same sex households, or the findings of scientifically compiled sex surveys like the one recently conducted by Indiana University in which 15% of the American population, ages 14 to 94, identified themselves as “homosexual or bisexual,” we may be as many as 30 million strong.
And those university surveyors concluded, “the percentage of people who have had same gender sex is probably higher.”
Contrast this with the 14.4 million Americans who classify themselves as “Asian” or the 6 million who identify themselves as “Jewish,” or the mere one million who are devotees of the super conservative Tea Party movement, and our numbers (granted there are overlaps in race, religion, and ethnicity) are even more staggering, considering the shit we have to deal with.
Imagine if only we truly were a cohesive group – i.e., had our act together – what we might achieve for our cause. Instead, for very understandably reasons, I believe that the vast majority of us are silent players in “The Life.”
We are the ones, urban, suburban, or rural, who live quietly alone or with partners, lovers or roommates; work at just about any kind of job or in any kind of profession; may or may not have kids from marriage, adoption, or a Petri dish; usually have at least one pet; drive Fords and Chevys and shop at Price Cutters; may be Ken Dolls and Barbies or Homely Hannas and Plain Pauls; don’t talk much about our sexuality to others except a small, trusted band of fellow brothers and sisters, often because we work in conservative circles where announcing we’re gay will only fuck up our career path or, worse, live in some gay-starved area where all are friends are straight; don’t drop thousands of dollars on RSVP vacations, or visiting the stereotypical gay tourist traps; don’t flock to International Mister Leather in Chicago or spend $75 on a T-shirt because it’s a Versace; don’t hang out in the bars or think drags are all that funny; get off on VCR porn that’s decades old; and don’t even think about sex that much until we see some hottie in front of us in the supermarket line.
Yes, we’re what I’d like to call America’s straight-gays, the ones the mainstream public never sees and likely thinks don’t exist.
After all, if you’re gay, aren’t you supposed to be at the head of the local gay parade? Look like a photo spread from GQ? Work in fashion, entertainment, advertising, and only the glitzy side of retail? Be a walking wikipedia on the latest designer drug? Party all night, every night? Flick around if you’re a guy or only wear flannel shirts and front zipper jeans if you’re a gal? Talk non-stop pop cultureeze? Drive a fully loaded Lexus? Think nothing of dropping a couple of hundred bucks to see Lady Gaga? Know the local bartender so well he’s mixing your favorite drink the moment you enter the place?
Be under 30?
The reality is, if you counted every gay guy and gal hanging loose in a bar on a Saturday night and everyone of them fit the highly biased, stereotypical profile I just described, you wouldn’t come close to one tenth of one tenth of one per cent of all the people in this great country who prefer their own sex in bed.
Ah, but that’s the problem, isn’t it? Because so many of us are undetected or choose to be, for very legitimate private and public reasons, the super straight, God fearing members of the general public feel justified in holding on to their ancient, outdated, prehistoric views of sexuality, and continue to point fingers at us “flakes.” They couldn’t even begin to imagine that their humpy car mechanic could be an expert cocksucker, or that their little Billy’s very pretty third grade school teacher likes pussy.
Now, I’m not saying that most gays are apolitical. As a microcosm of mainstream society, we have as many liberals among us who think gay marriage is our God given, Constitutional right as we have conservatives who think it’s all bullshit. But because we don’t do much about it, and leave our mutual battles to be won by the so-called “fringees” (weren’t the drag queens largely responsible for initiating the Stonewall Riots?), progress for all of us is not where it should, or could be, forty plus years after it all began.
I often criticize those sexually obsessed among us for caring more about their next lay than equal rights, but ask yourself this the next time there’s a heated discussion about gays around the water cooler and you play it cool and non-committal: are those of us who count ourselves as members of that vast gay silent majority any less guilty?