Now hiring: gay in an obvious wayEntertainment Feature, Section 4A Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Not long ago I was searching for a bartending job, and while scouring Craigslist I fell upon an ad for a bar in my neighborhood that called for someone just like me. Must be gay-friendly the ad warned, as the bar was in a gay neighborhood and the clientele were predominately gay. Perfect, I thought, not only am I gay-friendly, I’m gay.
I quickly threw on a professional-looking outfit complete with feminine ballerina flats, grabbed my resume and walked up the street to the bar. It was during the lull between lunch and dinner so when I provided the only employee I could find (a Latin busboy with giant gold-earrings and tight shorts) with a resume, he directed me toward the manager’s office.
The manager appeared within seconds; a tough-looking brunette who while dressed nicely, was wearing a shirt that exposed her Human Rights equal-sign tattoo on her arm. I smiled at her as the busboy handed her my resume. Without even looking at it she gave me a quick up-and-down and decidedly remarked, “We’re only taking resumes. No meetings.” Then she disappeared into the office.
Sure, maybe they were only taking resumes. Maybe they were going to give them a look over and then call and set up meetings. Sure. Or maybe she did what I think she did – she prejudged. She looked at my purple pants and my ballerina flats and my long blonde hair and thought, “You don’t fit in here. You’re straight.”
Leaving the bar, I felt like a complete outsider from my own community. And this isn’t the first time. When I first started doing stand-up comedy, I scarcely got invited to perform in the gay shows, dismissed as a likely case of experimenting college girl. All the well-known gay comics (usually a little more telling in their sexuality by their physical appearance) refused to acknowledge that I, too, was the same as them.
I came out to my family when I was 21, to varying results. My sister was supportive and my grandparents continued to love me as usual. My mom, however, was up in arms. She called me a “lezzie bitch,” cut off my cell phone and refused to see me. In her mind, her little girl had been “tricked” into being gay and she couldn’t accept it. My story is sad and unfortunate, and yet it is shared by millions of other gay people who will never know the joys of sharing their loved ones with their families.
Which is why what that manager did is so disappointing. Just as our own families and strangers alike have discriminated against gay people based on predetermined stereotypes, that manager discriminated against me in the same way. Even if I were straight, the gay rights fight is labeled as a movement for human rights – we all deserve to be treated the same.
After a show one night in Hollywood, a fellow comic who was hosting the show made a comment after my set:
“You’re a lesbian? I thought being a lesbian was reserved for ugly chicks?” To which I replied, “Well I know you’re straight because being hot is reserved for gay men.” If that imbecile really thought what he said to be true, then I gave him a taste of his own idiotic logic.
A lot of gay-male friends of mine have brought up the argument that lesbians often have it easier than them; that the world is more accepting since their sex life doesn’t come with the label of that horrible Bible word, sodomy. (Which, while we’re on the topic let’s take a show of hands for straight people who haven’t taken part it in?) While I see the reasons behind their point, they really are sadly mistaken. Yes, it’s commonly believed that straight men find two women together to be a fantasy; so if those women happen to be beautiful, then they will support their same-sex relationships. Being accepted, according to my gay male sources, means we have it better. The simple fact they’re forgetting is that it is in a way the very same thing that is done to them; our private sexual relationships are made to be the subject of humiliation. Whether the straight community is calling it disgusting or wrong or whether they’re trivializing it and attempting to get in on the action, we’re all suffering.
I am a feminine-ish gay woman. The women I date have always tended toward the feminine side as well. But just because our sex is supposedly a straight-guys fantasy, it doesn’t in any way make things easier or better. Several times during my life I have been out with my girlfriend and a man has approached us. I sit there and watch as he hits on my girlfriend, and when we explain that we’re in a relationship he assumes he can sit down, shoot the shit, and maybe join us for a threesome later. And this sucks.
I was having a conversation with a straight friend of mine awhile back, and she asked for my thoughts on why it is gays, for the most part, tend to look a certain way. She wanted to know if I thought gay men were predisposed to talking with that cadence we all know and associate with being gay (a comic friend Scott Silverman says it best, “As soon as I start talking you think, I know that accent!”), or if women were naturally more masculine. I thought hard about it and I presumed that it all stems from the early days; the days in which one was not to talk of same-sex relations, the days when if caught taking part in homosexual behavior you were jailed if not killed. I hypothesized that you had to find a way to identify yourself to other gays without coming out and saying it. Picking up a way of speaking or a way of dressing to make your mark was a safe way to say it without saying it.
Nowadays when we see a woman with short hair, or a man who is well-groomed, the thought crosses our mind “are they?” But that, too, is prejudice. Within the gay community or not, to look at the way someone looks and treat them differently because of it is no different than doing so based on skin-color or religion.
I’ve witnessed gay men who are very masculine in their demeanor and who don’t fit the flamboyant stereotype; they have beards and go camping and play sports; and they’re glorified for it. Gay men, straight men and women alike proclaim how sexy they are, “You’d never know he was gay,” they say. Whereas a woman who doesn’t fit the stereotype – who wears make-up and loves to shop – at least within the gay community, is seen as a temporary addition.
“Believe me, once that girl breaks her heart, she’ll go crawling back to dick!”
As far as the gay community is concerned, I have news for you; I am a woman. I love being a woman and I love to feel pretty. Sometimes I wear high-top sneakers, or a signature flannel to stake my place, but make no mistake, even in a dress I know how to handle a woman in the bedroom. We as humans are individuals. If our community, the LGBT community, truly wants to be seen as equal in every way all other humans are equal, then our bigotry needs to stop first from within.
Now excuse me, I’m going to go chop some wood and chug some beers!
Heather Turman is a stand-up comic whose comedy can be summed up in the following statement: darkly twisted and crookedly original. You can follow Heather on Twitter @heatherturman or visit heatherbrained.com for tour dates/shows.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=40617