It’s lunch break. You sit in a conference room with your coworkers. Your boss has an episode of some advertising reality show on the TV. Agencies spend the one-hour time-slot competing in scripted competitions to win lucrative contracts from the show’s sponsors.
It’s revealed that one of the agency owners, a stern, silver-haired leader, is gay. He has a handsome young boyfriend or partner or husband, you can’t remember, you just know that there’s kind of a sugar-daddy vibe and the pair regularly vacations in Italy.
“The first time I saw this episode I had no idea he was like that,” your boss says.
Your boss has an employee who is like that sitting next to him but he finds himself incapable of saying “gay.”
You’re at a bar with someone you’ve been dating for a few weeks. He’s predictable but attractive, average but normal. At the table next to you a group of men are cackling with delight at a joke. Wrists fly free, laughs echo, hands slap on the table. Their clothing is tight and bright. Nails are carefully manicured. Jewelery clashes like wind-chimes against their ears and necks.
Your date attempts to subtly look at you and them at the same time. He mumbles, “I’m so glad you’re not like that.”
A fog clouds your stomach, but your lack of experience hasn’t equipped you with the words to express what you’re feeling, so you take a drink instead. All you know is that it seems like the people at the table next to yours are having much more fun.
You’re on the phone with a pair of investors. For months they’ve been interested in a project you’ve proposed but they have concerns.
“Did you read the email?” they ask, “It’s all in the email.”
Of course you read the email, you tell them, but they continue speaking as if you hadn’t.
They’re concerned about the colors, the pink and the light blue you’ve incorporated into some of the concept work. They’re concerned about the product attracting undesirable markets. They’re concerned about attracting “tranny hookers.” They’re concerned about attracting “ghetto people.” They’re concerned about attracting “fairies.”
You say, “I’m sorry,” as if you didn’t hear them, even though you heard every word.
“Look, we just don’t want to attract people like that,” they say.
You live in a world full of beautiful, successful people who constantly parrot the message that being gay is okay, that it won’t stop you from pursuing happiness, that it isn’t the hindrance it’s made out to be.
You understand the message. You attempt to agree with it. You try to tell yourself you’ve rarely had serious problems with people mistreating you for being gay.
But you’ll always be dismissed for being like that.