How evolution works-
This is how I went through the evolutionary process.
A little essay on how my own attitudes have changed over the years towards Gay people. It’s a little personal, but since this is such a big deal in Minnesota these days.. here it is.
Fear and hate.
30 years ago I knew a Gay guy.
Ewww. Dude was a faggot. He slept with men. Gross.
Wieners, ass, kissing men, gross. Funny guys the homos, but wouldn’t want one in same bathroom with me. Why? Cause.. just because, if YOU don’t know why I’m not going to tell you. (Not sure I know either)
Fags were funny, but I only knew one.
And the guy I knew from college who came out. Three.
Actually the dude who came out surprised me. “Didn’t see that coming”.
I ask now, really? I mean what did I think was coming? Gayness? Tierra’s and pink siding?
I think I knew a lesbian back then too. Lady at the temple who the grapevine said was a dyke. Grapevine is always right, right? What the heck, I didn’t care as much about lesbians. I like women, I could understand how they would like women.
You know, until they met the right guy, then I’m sure they’d go the other way…
I encountered more Homosexuals, informally of course. From afar. I moved from fear to
Lack of tolerance or understanding, and some ridicule.
Gay pride parades become a big deal in San Francisco in the late 70’s. By the mid 80’s Halloween was THE holiday in the Castro for Gays. One giant party where half the guys were dressed like Judy Garland. Except the ones who were a little more rotund, they went for Ethel Merman. In this case pardon my stereotype, but I’m not far off.
I was down there a couple times. People watching.
It was fun to watch Gays. Like going to a freak show. All that leather, weirdness, sexuality right out there. Those folks are funny. And they’re deadly serious about their rights. Because for them, it can be about life and death.
I stopped loathing and got past fear. They were just another bunch of weirdos.
I had evolved again.
Live and let live.
What the hell. Yet another bunch of oddballs in San Francisco. Let’um be. I only know one. Or two.
I stopped laughing at them at in the late 80’s. Them. Those guys. The queers. I stopped laughing because I knew a few more. I stopped laughing because they were dying. A guy at work. Another guy at work. The guy who cut my mothers hair. She’d been going to him for 10 years. He died. Just like that.
Suddenly people I knew of were coming out of the closet and seemingly dying the next day. AIDS. During the height of the epidemic, before drugs and talk about viral loads, AIDS was bringing people out of the closet for the worst possible reason. Because they were dying. And when one of my close friends in High School died in 1989, it hit me. There’s more of them around than I thought.
And they deserve more than being joked about.
I’d moved on.
I didn’t really have any Gay friends at that point. I mean seriously, what did a fat suburban father of three have in common with fast urbanites in fabulous homes? These were all casual acquaintances, relationships that came in handy in conversations when I wanted to show off my progressive thinking, “I know a gay dude”. Cool on me. Kinda. Not sure a Gay dude would claim to know me. Cool and Sank, not often spoken in the same breath.
Went to eat a “Gay” restaurant in the Castro for brunch once. That was fun. About 1987. Waiters in super short cut off demim, muscle shirts and Ron Jeremy mustaches. Stereotype all over the place. Food was good. I didn’t snicker.
Did afterwards. I bragged about Homo-breakfast for a long time after that. Funny, ‘cause in hindsight, there was nothing to brag about. We ate. Food was good. Waiter was nice. Coffee was excellent. Other than the Gays coulda been Whole Earth…
I even went to a Christmas party in the late 80’s put on by a couple Gay dudes who lived together. Most stylish damned party I’ve ever been to in my life. Matching everything, fancy lights, stylish music, stylish matching ties. It was kinda cool. And me? I was cool for being there. So I thought.
Still, the party was a good source of talkstory when I was back in the Hetroburbs with our straight friends, Sank’s big adventure, the trip to a Gay guys house.
I had evolved again: Acceptance.
In the 90’s I become actual friends with a Gay dude. I had a Gay friend. No more prejudice from me, I, had an actual Gay guy who I could call a friend. Well, let’s be honest, no more prejudice when he was around, poker night and fishing trips.. yeah..
By the mid 2000’s I had several Gay friends. Not close, but close enough. Good guys. Funny as hell. Snappy dressers. Enjoyed their company.
I met a few more Lesbians as well. Real honest to goodness Lesbians, not the stuff from behind the curtain at the video store.
Many of my homosexual friends lived together and had “partners”. I’d put the quotation marks in the air with my fingers when needed, which was when I was talking to heterosexual friends, just in case someone didn’t “got the joke” that I was talking about Gay people. And that “partner” for them was somehow different than it was for straight people. Straight people have partners too, but typically I’d call them husbands. Or wives.
Gay people on the other hand were playing house or something. Cute that they wanted to be a “real” couple.
A couple of my Gay friends, one man and one woman in particular, I came to think of as pretty good friends. When you have a Gay person as a “pretty good friend” and you are not Gay, and maybe even if you are Gay, they stop being my Gay friends and become just friends.
Friends, same as every other friend.
Lots of friends. Diverse company always more fun.
I like having friends; they enrich my life a TON. Matter of fact the only effective cure that I’ve found for my depression, is spending time with my friends. Now, I have a lot of friends, and by chance some of them are Gay.
And as I became friends, The Gays became people, just plain old people with the same desire for family, children, success etc that I had. And it became impossible to single them out for discrimination because it made no sense. I can’t look a friend in the eye and tell them that they’re different and somehow less deserving of rights and privileges that I have, simply because of who they fall in love with.
And now I’ve reached what I think is the final stage of the Tolerance Evolution: Ambivalence.
I don’t care. I don’t that you’re Gay or Straight. Don’t care who you sleep with. I care that you treat people with respect, are caring and warm and that you have my back. And I’ll have yours. Come November, I’ll do my part.
By the way, I should tell you sometime about my black friend Thomas. Back in school I had me a black friend. How cool was that?… I evolved there too…