I'm used to people knowing my sexual orientation. Some figure it out (or at least think they do) because of the way I dress, the way I talk, or the way I do my hair. Scientists might tell you that they know because of the difference in length between my middle and ring fingers. And my seventh-grade classmates at North Junior High School in Boise, Idaho, will say it was the manner in which I held my books -- to my chest "like a girl" rather than at my side "like a boy" -- that was the giveaway.
Most folks, however, know because of where I work, because I've introduced them to my boyfriend, or simply because I've told them, "I'm gay." You see, I've got nothing to hide. And while I'd never go so far as to say that my sexual orientation defines me, gay is what I am, it's who I love, and it's how I live my life. I can't imagine it any other way.
That said, it felt like someone had turned a cold-water hose on me the other day when, during what I can best describe as a moment of parking-lot rage, a 30-something guy called me "fag." It had been so long -- probably since those glory days at NJHS -- since someone said that to my face that I rolled down my window and asked, "What did you say?" And he responded by adopting a baby-doll voice and a lisp in order to ask back, "What did you thay?"
In retrospect, it was such a small thing -- especially when compared to the horrific stories that too often run in this magazine and on Advocate.com. But in that moment I felt raw, angry, and, for some reason, like I'd been found out -- like, even though I was smack-dab in the middle of West Hollywood, I didn't belong. What's worse, I didn't have a comeback. So I wrote down his license plate number and drove off.
I'm not sure what I thought I could do with the license plate number; in the moment I hoped the guy had violated some ultraliberal WeHo ordinance and that the city might slap him with a hefty fine. But I didn't have time to study the city code. So I decided instead to share the story here. I don't want to get back at the guy (although what could be worse for a fag basher than to have his name printed in a fag mag?); I just want to remind everybody that as comfortable as we get, this sort of thing (and much, much worse) is still happening -- even in the heart of Boystown. The best response is just to continue being our out, proud, witty, and wild selves. And with that in mind, I think the next time someone calls me a fag -- if there is a next time -- I'll simply smile and, in my best baby-doll voice, say, "Yeth, I am."