I am starting this blog as a way for me to separate things out a little more in my life. I want to be able to keep a blog relaying certain details of my life to people I am no long physically near without having to muddle that with all the inevitable political/religious rants, etc that I go on. I don’t think I should necessarily force my views on people so I want to keep two blogs : Speaking for myself where I share my daily life and now Queer Rant where I get to talk about all the crazy shit going on out in the larger world.
It’s going to be hard sometimes to know where to draw the line and where to put what post, I am sure. This inaugural post is a great example since I can see myself putting it in either category; I’m relating it directly to my own personal experience, namely my final day at the food pantry yesterday, but it hits on something larger.
Since I’m moving moving this time around, rather than running away to Europe for a semester or a school year, I won’t be coming back to volunteer over the coming summer; at best I’ll be stopping in to say hi a time or two.
It was difficult saying goodbye to Waverly and everyone else who I’ve come to know and love – even from my admittedly rather peripheral perspective since I only spend a few hours with them once a week. Our final client of the day talked with me for about 20 minutes. We talked about everything from vegetarian diets to God and faith and religious practice to her kids eating habits to getting divorced to traveling. This is what I love about volunteering at the food pantry. You never know who you might meet and what you might find out that you have in common. Leaving is difficult.
I was a bit upset, though, after meeting a volunteer there who I’ll call Jim. At first I was excited to meet this older gentleman since he was quite obviously gay. Believe me. He was gay.
“Honey, the cat knew he was gay.”
Then he started to talk about his wife. Even so I thought, “Well, OK. I guess that’s just the sad reality of growing up in West Michigan fifty years ago. Sad, but that’s the reality of it – if you were gay you still got pressured into heterosexual relationships for the most part.”
Then he started to creep me out. Several times he got too close to me. For example, on one occasion I was sitting against a table and he came and stood right next to me while I was talking with some of the other volunteers; he was unnecessarily close to me, actually so close that he was touching me (not inappropriately so but there was no reason for him to be standing so close to me). I gave it a few seconds and got up and moved away.
Before he left, he “cornered me” in the storage area in the back of the pantry. “Cornered” sounds dramatic but he basically did that. He came up and told me he had a grandson who was sixteen over in Europe and before he left he gave him the advice to “keep his pecker in his pants”. Remember: I’ve only just met this man. He told me, “And I’m gonna give you the same advice. You don’t need to get a girl pregnant.” I don’t talk about being gay while I’m at the food pantry for the simple reason that it would make a number of volunteers uncomfortable and I have no real reason to ever talk about it in this context. I’m not hiding, I just don’t feel compelled to share with the class. So I just laughed it off and said “Oh, I don’t think there’s any chance of that.”
I realize that the advice could be taken just as an old man telling a young man to be smart. But the manner in which he took me aside and gave me this advice was very odd – also that I had never met him before this day. Why would you tell this to a stranger? And on a few other instances he was a little too comfortable with the physical contact. From holding my hand a little too long when we shook hands to introduce ourselves to when he came right over and stood exactly next to me at the table.
All this to say I was very saddened at having met Jim by the end of the day. Besides being creeped out and perturbed I was sad for him and that he is living this “heterosexual” life, that he was giving advice to me as if I were a straight man (which I’m, I think, obviously not).
The saddest thing of all, perhaps, is that there are still people in the world today being forced into this. There are still queer folks living in a straight world who can’t take the pressure and they cave to the bullshit and the lies and they convince themselves that maybe they just haven’t found the right person yet. Or maybe if I try hard enough, I will pray the gay away. Or if I just get with someone of the opposite sex I’ll get used to it and it won’t be so bad.
Sometimes being queer is a complete downer. I have my moments where I wish that life could be simpler and I hate the bullshit that accompanies being a gay male in western society. I hate having to think over so many different aspects. I hate the fleeting moments where I think that in a certain situation I need to do my best to pass as straight. It’s complicated. Giving up the fight from the outset isn’t the way to cope, though. Letting yourself get sucked into a lie is toxic. You will only hurt those around you and kill yourself a little more with each day you try to keep up appearances.
Be honest. Be who you are. The world needs you. You need you.