At the GreenMarket yesterday there were many more gay men than usual. June in New York, I thought. But they were older, not the standard East Village-y queers you're used to seeing holding hands and drinking Jamba Juice. And most of them were from out of town. Again: June in New York.
Three guys stopped at the syrup stand and talked with me. I'm not sure if they knew I was gay from the beginning of the conversation, or if they caught on somewhere in the middle. But they were doing that kind of hint-hint thing that I recognize as a purely Southern kind of intimation. They winked. They smiled and laughed. Sure enough, they were from Atlanta. "No apologies," one of them said. "You moved because you had to. We stayed because we had to." That sounded like the best truth to me.
In Chattanooga once for Christmas, I was at a bar having a drink with an old friend. "Why are all the gay people sitting over there?" I asked. "See the tile on floor," she told me, "where it changes? If you sit over there people know you're gay." I was reminded how difficult being out can be in a place like that. Where the one gay bar still has no visible sign and a fence around the parkign lot. I was reminded how thankful I am to be living in New York, a city that allows you the illlusion (I say illusion because still fags are attacked here like prey; just last week they went after Kevin Aviance; oh and still we cannot marry, etc.) that your gayness is more accepted. And yet, it is. We have our neighborhoods, our bars, our restaurants, each other.
Gay Pride month always brings up the question of what do we want our image to be--in society, in America at Large. Fuck image. What I hear people shrieking about when they complain about the gay image, is this absurd idea that we, as a people, should strive toward normalicy. "We just want the country to see that we're normal," someone is perpetually saying on TV. And to think, all this time I thought my life WAS normal. What they really mean when they say normal is average. Who wants to be average?
So shake your half-naked queer ass on a float shaped like a penis going down Fifth Avenue, or compete in the International Leather Sir/Boy Contest, or break out your drag and mock the shitty, capitalist, mysoginist establishment, or suck each other off in every dingy Manhattan stairwell--what do I care? And Fuck You to everyone who says we can't.