Thursday, May 11, 2006

Does Madam have alopecia?

We treated ourselves to a weekend in a nice hotel last week, out in the country. It was attached to a golf course and I don't think they get many "gentlemen of a certain persuasion" (to misquote Glitter for Brains) because the chap who delivered our breakfast on Saturday morning said "good morning Madam" to my fella, who was in bed. I had answered the door and I think he'd politely averted his eyes from the bed area, so had assumed I must be a straightie (I have recently had quite a butch haircut and as we all know butch = straight, allegedly.) Anyway, after saying "Madam", he clocked that the person in the bed was a balding 40 year old man, made a kind of embarrased choking sound and ran out of the room without saying anything else. We did laugh.

The next morning, however, word must have got round that there were "gays in room 311" because the next person to deliver room service was a camp little thing with one of those assymetrical mullet hairstyles and a slightly over-friendly demeanour. My fella had locked himself in the bathroom though, so I was able to cast an air of mystery over my sexuality that time. He didn't bring us enough milk or marg either - probably off his head on E the night before.

I usually assume that everyone knows I am gay and those who don't can probably figure it out the minute that I open my mouth. Normally I avoid situations where people may assume I am straight and if they do, I usually experience several responses - part of me finds it funny - cos it puts you in the middle of a bad farce or a sitcom. A bit of me is apprehensive - I now have to decide whether or not to "put them right" by revealing that I like men and that could potentially embarrass them or they might turn out to be homophobic nuts. And the alternative, not telling them is even more depressing - you end up being complicit in a lie and denying who you are. Then another bit of me is annoyed - why on earth should they assume anything (although I tend to assume people are straight as well, unless they're good-looking men, in which case they're gay until proven guilty). I also feel secretly pleased that I'm not such an obviously nelly queen, because let's face it, camp gay men are funny, but people rarely want to sleep with them - and it's masculinity where all the power is in society. Then I feel a bit depressed, because I know I've "bought into" the fucked-up gender/sexuality/power structure of our society and feeling pleased at being pegged as straight is merely internalised homophobia and I must hate myself.

So being taken for straight tends to open up a can of worms for me, which is why I avoid those situations, or try to get it out in the open right away. The exception to this is taxi drivers - who have told me some of the most homophobic stories imaginable. I sometimes wish I was the sort of outrageous person who could shriek "Stop this cab you bitch! I'll have you know that I am gay and I'm going to use all my media contacts to have you fired and your company shamed for employing homophobes and not having a proper equality policy. And then I'm going to organise a Pride March in your garden!" But I usually just proffer a wintery smile and change the subject. The problem is, that such banal cases of homophobia are so random, and I'm rarely prepared for them - and even if I was, as I've gotten older, I've grown to hate direct conflict. I can't even stand a slightly critical email these days, so a face-to-face row would probably require me to lie down in a dark room for a week. I was quite the firebrand in my 20s and had numerous public fights, sometimes about sexuality, sometimes not. But I don't like getting angry these days. I get the impression that it affects me a lot more than the other person, no matter how clever and spiteful my bon mots can be. So I let a lot go. I always end up feeling sorry for homophobes anyway - I get the impression most of them have buried feelings and are just desperate to bring up the subject of homosexuality, even if it means slagging gay people off. They're their own worst enemies.

1 comment:

Rob7534 said...

I'm so using that, the next time I hear homophobic shit at work!

"Stop this cab you bitch! I'll have you know that I am gay and I'm going to use all my media contacts to have you fired and your company shamed for employing homophobes and not having a proper equality policy. And then I'm going to organise a Pride March in your garden!"

Even if we're not in a cab!