too often i find myself explaining to people i’ve just met – and sometimes people i’ve known far too long to have to explain such things – that, no, i’m not gay.
for example: i was out with some friends the other night, at a restaurant in town, eating dinner, playing pool, drinking, flirting obnoxiously with the very interesting female bartender, putting my admittedly pathetic moves on a nice young lady over a few games of pool, and dancing with all the unattached ladies in my group of friends, as well as some of the other girls on the dance floor. sure, one of the guys in my group is gay, and he has a good time dancing with everybody on the floor, and people can generally tell at a glance what team he plays for. (he usually wears what i refer to as the “gay boy’s uniform” of a tight black turtleneck and tight black pants, matching belt and shoes that cost a month’s salary and a trip to New York to acquire)
on my way back to the bar to rest my aching knees and to get some water, one of the girls i had been dancing with asked if he was my boyfriend.
i stared at her, dumbstruck for, i’m certain, a little too long before replying in the negative. i was a little stuck. in the first place, how could she imagine i was gay? in the second place, how do you say “no. i’m straight” with enough conviction to get the point across, but without implying “you want me to prove it?”
this is hardly the first time i’ve been mistaken as gay, and i sometimes feel like it’s a bit of a compliment – except when it hurts my chances of meeting someone of the opposite sex that’s interested in me. i can understand some people that i know thinking that it’s been a really long time since i’ve had a girlfriend, or introduced them to someone i’ve been dating, but all they have to do is listen to me long enough, and i’ll complain about how inscrutible women can be, and how fristrating it can be to be terminally single.
but what is it about me, anyway, that people see as gay?
for one, sure, i hang out with my gay friends, and i have enough of them that i’m comfortable in their company, and i’m not in the least homophobic (except with regards to the current topic). but i also hang out with my female friends, and nobody ever accused me of being a woman.
maybe it’s that i have a decent sense of personal hygiene when i’m going out in public. i actually bathe, shave, trim my fingernails, and try not to smell like i’ve been swimming in raw sewage
and, unless i happen to be having a manic episode (like the other night) i’m typically very shy about talking to strange women. if i were more obnoxious, spurting pickup lines and buying drinks, i think i’d get my point across, but i’d also leave by myself just as often.
it’s only recently that i’ve actually managed to be able to dance in public (and i still feel foolish while i’m doing it) – so i doubt that’s it.
and sure, i’m well-read with a decent vocabulary, and i can actually empathise with the feelings of others and carry on a reasonably intelligent conversation without mentioning cars or sports, all the while looking a woman in the eyes instead of fixating on the jiggly lumps of flesh on her chest as if every sound she makes were somehow emanating from between them.
so, sure, first impressions can be lasting ones, but do i need to be a drooling, unkempt sack of testosterone to meet someone without them thinking i’m just a nice, safe, gay boy? if anything, they should reserve judgement until they know me better and i tell them that i knit, have two cats, and decorated my own home.