So recently I was at lunch discussing Milk with a friend who is urbane, sensitive, fairly aware, who told me in a very matter-of-fact manner that while the movie is very powerful, there are many disturbing scenes. I asked her if she meant the sex and she said no. So I asked her if there was violence in the movie and she said no. So I asked her what she meant by disturbing. And she replied, “There are many intimate and explicit scenes between gays.”
Interesting, don’t you think? When straight people do it, it’s sex or glorified love-making. But when it’s a change in sexual orientation, you need guarded terminology to describe a basic human act.
It got better. She said how her boyfriend would never watch the movie because it’s about gays. On probing she told me how he thinks that gays are always in-your-face and always trying to put their sexuality out there by making out and acting weird in public.
Another girl I know who knows about my gay friends keeps asking me why I can’t have a sexual relationship with one of them. I said, “Ummm, the first thing that comes to mind is that he is gay.” And she looks at me in true bewilderment and says, “So what?”
Once people know that you have friends who are gay, you have to deal with a barrage of embarrassing and curious questions or get sucked into the I-know-gays-too line of talk.
So, tell me, have you watched him in action?
Does he let other people watch?
Does he really, you know, really, do a man?
But what can gays do, really?
Umm… does he tell you about it later?
Does he dress up like a girl and all?
But he’s gay, what do you guys do together?
When you guys go on trips and drink and all that, does he act weird with you? Does he try to, you know, convert you?
You know Kabir in college was so gay! He wore yellow shirts or even pink sometimes and used his hands to emphasize points. So gay, man! And thank God, I never let him talk to me too much, but he apparently went shopping with that girl he used to hang out with! Imagine that! So gay.
Oh yes, even I know a gay guy. He was always gay, you know, he behaved like one. But now I heard he’s seeing this new girl and he even exercises. Isn’t that cool, I wonder how he got out of being gay. Thank God, he did though. But he’s so gay sometimes still.
Hey, now even I know lots of gay guys. My boyfriend and I met them yesterday and we had such fun. Now I know what it is like to be with gays. Why, my boyfriend even shook hands with one of them and he hugged another one. Isn’t it cool? I felt a little weird but my boyfriend said, ‘It’s okay, babe.’ And it was and I had so much fun. And you know, those guys drank beer like us.
Oh even I want a gay friend, I was told by a friend that you can always go shopping with them.
And a response to the terribly tacky presentation of Celina Jeitly’s gay activism on Times. ‘Did you read the story? It was so touching. Can’t trust these gay men, man, imagine, they beat women up. Poor thing, she must have been so scared and clueless. Scary.’
And this classic – "I’ll never have gay children. My God! No way, not I. It’s impossible."
Go figure. So queer, these straight folk seem, won’t you agree?
And while I normally keep away from any kind of activism, I thought it was time to stand up for the people who are here, who are queer (and in my life, thank you, God), and who are constantly teaching people (with intelligence, sensitivity, grace, and such class) to deal with it. Saying I’m proud of you or that I love you is just not enough, darlings.
Know about the IDAHO Challenge
Take up the IDAHO Challenge - Help fight homophobia and transphobia.
A global project to create a public awareness video for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO) on May 17 has attracted the participation of 359 people from 48 countries across six continents around the world. The groundbreaking project is a joint undertaking of the Paris-based IDAHO Committee and the social network Gays.com, attracting 50,000 people to its website within a month.
Be proud of the many who've taken up the IDAHO Challenge in this video response.