this morning i had a kind of incident with one of my co-workers, a black guy i’ll call Roger. I was walking into the parking lot, 5:30am, and I feel myself do a kind of kick stomp in his direction and I try to take it back, but I don’t entirely know how yet. I knew the moment I did it I was being jumpy because I’m gay and closeted and they’re straight. I didn’t mean anything by it.
Backstory: One of my roomates, who I’ll call Gary, is an older black man from Virginia. He lived there all his life but for the last 2 years here in Seattle. One night months ago, after he gets back from a trip to Virginia, he got drunk and confronted me. He told me I wasn’t gay, that I was confused, that I hadn’t met the right girl yet, that he knew what gay was and I wasn’t it, that I was sexually abused as a child, that I was ridiculous, that I needed Jesus in my heart, that he pitied me, that he’s praying for me, and that he wanted to show me the light. That was real threatening to hear. I called him homophobic and he called me racist. the next day i told him he had no right to speak to me that way, but he just called me a fool and told me it was his opinion. he still hasn’t apologized.
Backstory’s backstory: 18 mo. – 2 years ago. I’m getting bullied at work by my boss, a Catholic woman who is either mad I won’t sleep with her or just sadistic, and anyway I’m in the closet and denial. Wound tighter than shit. We have a house meeting to address the fact that Gary won’t do his dishes. Three 20’s / early 30’s white guys and a 50’s black guy. The other two guys are asking Gary nicely, quietly, three and four times to just do his dishes. Gary is drunk and laughing at all of us. I lose my temper and yell at him to “Listen,” one of the other guys immediately leaves, Gary caves and leaves, it wasn’t cool at all. I totally crossed the line, and I apologized to Gary three times. I came out of the closet to him later.
In any event, now I’m way more conscious of how I act when I meet black people since I don’t want to get the ‘gays are possessed by the devil’ speech. I do know from my friend M. who is gay and black that gays are not well accepted in the black community. M. has a degree in American-Ethnic Studies.
Can my co-day-laborers tell that I’m gay? I’ve told three of them – do they all know? does Roger know? He sat down and talked to me for a while today, and he made it clear that what I did, which I figure was basically a ‘black bottom stomp,’ was noticed and was not ok. and he’s right.
but from my point of view, I’m jumpy when I’m there not because of Roger. there’s an old white guy there named John who served 18 years on a submarine and is “forceful” with his opinions, as they say. The first person I came out to was a co-laborer named Ben. We were painting a older gay guy’s house – the older gay guy was hitting on me – I didn’t like it, Ben saw the whole thing, so I really had no choice but to talk to him about it, since he got the manager involved. Then next day I go in, John and his buddies are making jokes with each other, “I’m gay,” hahaha, “I’m gay,” hahaha. John, in holding court about the Jordanian Diplomat who was suspected of being a terrorist, he said the word “hate.” His buddy made a snide remark about “San Francisco” the other day that he and his buddies all laughed at.
So really, I don’t want to bring gay into it, as I’m talking to Roger, but gay is part of the situation. talking about it is bringing explanation to the weirdness. yet I don’t want to give them a reason to fire me. yet as he’s talking to me, it sounds as though he knows my entire situation already.
it seems like when there’s an act of fear, such as my ‘black bottom stomp’ this morning, people go to their insecurities for explanation.
i’ve been an office worker for 8 years. i come out to a conservative co-worker, i get harassed for 6 months – i tell HR about it and they find a reason to fire me. my mother shames me for getting harassed, shames me for doing day-labor – so it’s also a class issue and a sexual-orientation issue just in the family! – i used to make 2 1/2 times what i’m making now – i have a college degree – i could teach Shakespeare. i should be teaching Shakespeare. I’m trying to come to terms with the new information that my parents and really my entire family have a few really bigoted ideas about gays that they consider – of course they consider it wrong of me to confront them with their bigoted ideas… lost most of my friends, so hey. day labor is what i have right now. do i have to risk getting harassed and fired everywhere?
Roger said he’d give me the name of a temp-agency tomorrow. I’m kind of getting the message that maybe I’m not so welcome there. How do I repay him? Should I tell him I’m gay? If he helped a gay man – if anyone did – and then found out about the gayness later…? I want to be honest, I want to represent to people who I am, but I don’t want to endanger myself. If I were drawn into a confrontation with John, I might not have the strength / presence of mind to be civil or fair or to speak in legal terms.
it seems like the only people who’ll support me are (1) support groups, (2) churches, (3) other gays who are foremost interested in sex.