Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's in a Letter?

Homosexual panic can strike at any age.

Take the case of an acquaintance of mine who has an Irish last name with a "Mc" in front.

Several years ago I co-authored a book with a friend of mine and this guy -- we'll call him Mc -- was listed in the acknowledgments.
Unfortunately his name was misspelled with a "q" instead of a "g" and when my co-author went to correct it on the page proofs he made the mistake of underlining the "q." The typesetter interpreted this as meaning to capitalize the "q" so now it was a "Q."

In other words, it looked as if the guy's last name was McQueer or something along those lines.

Now a normal person would understand this was just a typo. I mean, I'm openly gay, why would I want to call anyone a "queer?" This fellow and I were hardly good friends, but we had had no quarrels over the years.

Anyway, he and his girlfriend decided to host a publication party for my co-author and myself [I think this was more for my co-author than for me, and it was probably the idea of the girlfriend and not "Mc," but it was still a very nice gesture. And a very nice party]

Mc went so far as to post the proper spelling of his name on the front door where everyone could see it.

He then went through the book itself and spotted an error and told everyone that I must have been the one who made the mistake -- not my co-author. [The irony was that it was my co-author who made that mistake and also compounded the original typographical error by underlining it!]

As I was a guest in Mc's home, I couldn't say what was on my mind [very, very frustrating for me] so I simply ignored his tackiness.

It wasn't long after this that Mc and his long-time live-in girlfriend got married or became domestic partners or something along those lines. I guess he was scared that because of a simple, inadvertent typographical error everyone would think he was, like, McQueer.

Like I say, talk about homosexual panic [the fear that you are or people might think you are gay]! And this was no teenager but a middle-aged man bordering on senior citizenship!

Well, at least it got him to marry his girlfriend [a lovely woman by the way].

Monday, October 4, 2010

Disturbing Matters -- and the Stonewall Again!

It's a shame to realize that even in these much more [but not completely] enlightened times there are still young gay men (and women) killing themselves. There's the tragic case of Tyler Clementi [pictured] who committed suicide after his roommate at Rutgers and another "friend" taped him having a homoerotic encounter and then posted it on the Internet. These people may not have thought Tyler was doing anything wrong, they may have felt they were doing the right thing in "outing" him, but a.) they were committing a gross invasion of privacy [which would have been the case even had the encounter been heteroerotic in nature] and b.) they should have realized that "coming out" is a rite of passage that everyone comes to in his or her own time. Outing hypocritical homophobes is one thing; an 18-year-old college student is another. [The legal aspects of this are so, sadly, fascinating that you can bet this story will be used as the basis for a Law and Order:SVU episode as well as many others].

Tyler probably had other issues. He seems like a sensitive young man. He was not conventionally handsome but he had a sweet face and other qualities that may have in time attracted someone to share his life with him, had that been what he desired. His roommate took what might have been a tentative first step into finding and accepting himself and turned it, whatever his intentions, into a dirty joke. Tyler may not have killed himself over being gay, but it's clear that having his actions taped and displayed for all the world to see drove him over the edge.

Despite all the achievements in Gay Rights, gay teen suicide is still a very real and terrible issue.

As is homophobia in general. Although things are much better than they once were, there still are plenty of reports that remind us that to some people we're as hated as ever.

Just the other day a man was gay-bashed in the famous [or infamous] Stonewall bar here in New York. Not that this surprises me, as I had an unpleasant encounter there myself many moons ago. The victim was taking an honest piss when they guy beside him asked what kind of bar it was, and when he discovered he was in -- gasp! -- a gay bar, took out his aggression on the customer. Another straight guy joined in. Both of the gay-bashers were arrested.

What kills me is that the Stonewall is claiming they do everything to protect their customers, to have a safe environment for everyone. But how did this [probably] shit-faced straight guy [or self-hater] get into the bar in the first place? There used to be a time when bouncers in gay bars made sure that every customer, especially the straight ones who wandered in, were aware they were in a gay bar, so that they could withdraw -- or be refused admittance -- if their reaction was hostile or negative. Now most gay bars don't even bother to do this, the reason allegedly being that gays and straights mingle more today and no one should be excluded etc. etc. but which really has more to do with money. Years ago straight people entered gay bars with their gay friends, and they were generally cool and respectful. Now we get inebriated meatheads who bounce in, unaware they're in a gay bar or too drunk to care [until they're made aware of it], and gay customers wind up paying the price for it.

I hope the guy who was gay-bashed sues the straight owners of the Stonewall. [Yes, they are straight, don't let anybody fool you. They gave a gay bartender at their other place, the Duplex down the street, a piece of the action and made him manager so they can say it's "gay-owned," which is a trifle disingenuous in my opinion.] The Stonewall gets the overflow from the Duplex, and it's been said that Duplex employees encourage [are told to encourage] the mostly straight, generally drunken tourists pouring out of the Duplex to go to the Stonewall; sometimes they mix with the gay customers like oil and water.

One of the gay-bashers' lawyers claims it wasn't a hate crime. But even if the guy turns out to be homosexual himself, it doesn't matter. If you beat somebody up because they're gay and call them a fag all the while it's a hate crime, be assured.