You’re Not Gay! No Way!

Yesterday, I was doing my typical routine, having escorted five senior pals (in two trips) grocery shopping. After bringing them back home and checking in with my fiance, I went out again … to the post office, bank, drug store, and grocery store again for something that I forgot to get earlier. Dressed comfortably in leather jeans, boots, and a leather jacket.

I try to make these personal trips (when I am alone) serve my exercise needs, too. I park at the far corner of the shopping center’s parking lot. That location requires a hike up quite a hill, and a longer hike between all the businesses that I had to go to.

After I parked my truck, I stopped to speak with a motorcop who was sitting in his cruiser (my home jurisdiction allows motorcops to use a cruiser instead of a police bike when the weather is cold). Cops frequently hang out in that parking lot keeping an eye on things. The cop and I spoke about the recent death of a motor officer in a neighboring county. This cop knew him from the local motorcycle police competition, and while I didn’t know him personally, I observed him ride. He was very skilled. The cop with whom I was speaking and I both expressed our remorse at the sudden line-of-duty death of our mutual acquaintance, having been involved in a crash while on his police motorcycle.

So there we are, on a bright, sunny, cold afternoon chit-chatting away. The cop always kept his eye on movements of vehicles and people. He remarked about how crazy people remain — driving all over and circling around just to get the closest parking place; abandoning shopping carts wherever they damn well please; driving aggressively inside a parking lot–ignoring the right-of-way of other drivers; parking in fire lanes (to use a bank’s ATM–and the cop would give each one a citation); and pedestrians ignoring crosswalks and walking whenever and wherever they please–right in front of traffic. Dumb stuff.

As we were talking, we both watched two guys sashaying along who demonstrated all — I mean all — of the behavioral stereotypes of gay men. Designer jeans and jacket, scarf tied “just so,” hair coiffed perfectly (not wearing a hat, either, despite the cold), upscale footwear, and their hands — oh gosh — how they flailed. Both were carrying shopping bags from a store that appeals to … well, let’s say that store does not appeal to masculine men. When these guys drew closer, you could hear each one speaking with a distinct sound that many people immediately classify as gay. I won’t fulfill stereotypes further, but you know what I mean.

The cop looked at me and rolled his eyes. I said, “hey, you know, all of us gay guys are different. Those guys are a bit more extreme than I am, but the gay community includes many kinds.”

It didn’t take a nanosecond for the cop to catch what I said, and he remarked, “you’re not gay! No way!”

From there, we had quite a conversation and I would say, I helped to educate him about the fact that gay men are not all the same. I am gay, I am in a stable monogamous long-term relationship to a man who I will marry soon, and yet I ride a Harley, wear leather, hate dancing, don’t give a damn about my hairstyle, and wouldn’t know designer clothing from off-the-rack stuff, and don’t care anyway.

It made for an interesting conversation for about another hour. Then the cop had to get moving and I had to get back home. We shook hands, and as we parted, he said, “thanks for briefing me about this stuff. I really didn’t know. I’ll be more open minded now.”

Life is short: education is the key to understanding.

3 thoughts on “You’re Not Gay! No Way!

  1. With your reply, you gave that cop an ‘ah ha’ moment and in retelling this story, you gave me one as well. Thank you.

    By this I mean that the cop had not seemed to have considered the possibility that the stereotype he held was NOT universal and finite. Or to put it another way, he didn’t ‘get it’ that some gay men/lesbians act that way but not all do. So now he knows you and sees that you don’t fit that ‘mold’; he also should be enlightened in his future thinking so as not to reach a conclusion about somone’s sexual orientation based on a set of characteristics which hold true for some but not others. That would be his ‘ah ha’ moment.

    As for me, your retelling of this story helped me to understand what some people mean when they say that they don’t know anyone who is gay. What they may actually mean is that they don’t know anyone who acts in the stereotypical way that gay men are believed to act. It’s far more likely ‘they’ know closeted or non-closeted but non-stereotypical gays (or lesbians), but because those gays/lesbians don’t evince in the way expected, ‘they’ haven’t made the mental connection that ‘they’ are gay/lesbian. In fact, as with your cop friend, ‘they’ may have acquaintences, friends, family, etc. who are gay. In future if I hear someone say they don’t know anyone who is gay/lesbian, I will be asking myself about that speaker’s expectation of and/or reliance upon stereotype(s) and whether or not he/she is as smart or savvy as she/he wants me to believe them to be. (Actually, count this as two ‘ah ha’ moments for me.)

    As an aside, I hope while you were speaking to your cop friend, you were also observing his footwear and evaluating it with an eye to offering him (her?) advice on same. Was he wearing Dehners, Bates or those Chippewa station boots you do so like? Did his footwear have nitrile, Vibram 430 or full-lug soles?

    • Thanks for sharing this …And do let us know in the future if you have chance to chat with this officer again….(to see if he acts any differently toward you, etc…) Just curious as to his age? Younger guys – no big deal. Older guys – difficulity procession the whole gay thingie….

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