“Thank you, sir”

“Thank you, sir”

She looks up at me and smiles. “Thank you, sir.”

Maybe even an exclamation point. “Thank you, sir!”

She looked happy to see me. Positively jazzed.

I felt a chill stirring. Ever before she had glowered. Looked at me like one of those people who says it “pre-vert.”

The difference is today I do not have pink hair.

I do not like thinking these things about people. It makes me feel uncharitable. But just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m unobservant.

She is one of those moms who would snatch her son away from me if she saw me walking towards her on the street.

It’s happened before. This. Me handing her the registry. Because of where I sit and where she sits, this has happened before. “Uh-huh,” she might have said, stifling a gasp. A pale film of disgust or frightened mew.

She seems otherwise like a wonderful woman. So that’s how I know I’m different. She does not glower at everyone, she is not of ill disposition.

She just doesn’t like my faggot face.

You can say it. If you’re reading this out loud, or even just to yourself. I don’t want you to skip it, or call it the f-a-word or some shit. I want you to say it. I want you to say “She doesn’t like my faggot face” even if you’re not a gay man because then maybe you can start to feel the way I feel inside.

The way I’ve felt inside even since I was a little boy. Well, young, at least. Husky, is the word they used. They also used words like speech impediment and affect as a noun.

I remember discovering who you all thought I was. I was on a school trip in Storrs, Connecticut, browsing a used bookstore when I came across a book called How to Be a Man, replete with 50s scare diagrams about avoiding the predatory homosexual. Children’s social organizations made anti-homosexual propaganda because of actual fear of homosexuals.

Fuck you if you think phobia is the wrong word for it. You’ve never looked it in the eyes.

Jesus wants me to hold my heart, to hold, but not too hard. I have to say these things.

I am not the big scary homosexual trying to snatch you away from your scout troop by the beach. No one was. There was never any such personage, and I’m sorry for whatever real story sparked this myth, but it wasn’t. fucking. me.

I knew from the age of 11 I couldn’t go into education because of momma bear. The mother who would beat down the doors of heaven and the supreme court before she’d let one of those people teach her child.

HER BEAUTIFUL BLONDE HETEROSEXUAL CHILD, PRAISE JESUS.

Praise him, verily, indeed.

Heavenly father, give me the strength to love people even when they do not love others, including myself. Help my heart to remain open to those with closed hearts, and to show by example that difference is all part of your design. Help me to understand that no one is perfect, and that we are all learning. And help me also to see that some people will choose not to learn, remaining in comfortable ignorance and out of the light. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

I wonder how she will treat me from now on. I wonder how long it took her to catch on it was me. Will she in any way be struck by her own shallowness?

Or will she think the devil has assumed a new form?

She’s lovely. I’d love to be her boon companion and staunch sibling in Christ. But from glowering to sir with just a haircut. Just that second of confusion to make you think it was ok.

I’ve always felt it was my personal business in this world to live as an honorable faggot. To always try and do the right thing, to go beyond, to smile more. To go higher when they went lower. To show them who we really are.

But you know what? Some people are just going to hate you, faggot. And that’s the way it is.

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