Today, I Got A Taste Of What It’s Like To Be Gay In America

So there I was, minding my own business in my wife’s Buick Century, on my way home from dropping a friend off to get their car… when a rather scruffy set of teenagers pull up next to me at the stoplight. Of course, the teenagers stopping next to me didn’t raise any alarms at first; after all, it is a stop light, and we’re supposed to stop at it. The part I didn’t expect, however, was for the rather tasteless and unprovoked hatred that would be expressed towards me as the light turned green. It wasn’t simply a mean look, a scowling face, or some sort of snicker to the other lad in the driver seat. No ladies and gentlemen, it was a full-blown episode of hatred, rooted deep within their very being, yelled loud and proud for the world to hear in my direction: “FAG!” Is this what’s it’s like to be gay in America?

Yes. Fag. Apparently that word is still used in a derogatory way. To those of you out there in the UK and around the world outside of the United States, the word “Fag” actually doesn’t mean cigarette in America. It means “Queer,” or “homo,” or “faggot” as it’s most commonly stated in it’s full-form of expression. I had forgotten all about the word really, seeing as though I hadn’t heard it since high school. Why on earth would such vocal noise be construed as hurtful when spoken to another person? Surely skins are thicker than that, right? For myself, yes. For many others… maybe not.

In my case, I’m not offended, because the two… let’s call them ‘gentlemen’ for now… seem to have me confused with some other person. For I am not the “faggot” they believe me to be. I’m not homosexual, nor do I have a desire to be. Yet despite my lack of shared characteristics with the fellows whom these gentlemen seem to express hatred toward, I felt an awkward sense of fear and anger. “How dare they!” I said to myself, uttering under my breathe how terrible I believe those ‘disgusting human beings’ to be. I mean the way they said it was so unique as well. It wasn’t like the movies where some teenage kid sticks their head out the window, yells “Fag” at me and then laughs while giving his buddy a high-five. No, it was much more deep then that.

Obviously it wasn't Conan that said this, but this look right here is very close to what I got

Obviously it wasn’t Conan that said this, but this look right here is very close to what I got…

It was almost as if they were upset about my existence, or disappointed in me. Maybe a bit of both. It was less of a yell and more of a call-out, as if they wanted me to know that they knew what I was – or at least what they thought I was. It sorta reminded me of a person that just wants you to know their opinion, regardless of whether anyone else needed it.

Yet what provoked such a claim in the first place? Why did these hate-mongers with the “Jesus loves you” bumper sticker feel the need to express their beliefs upon me at that particular moment, as if to say “you’re going to hell queer!” without so many words? It couldn’t possibly be my devilish good looks, because I am hardly what many would call a “pretty man.”

not-a-pretty-boy

I mean, I think I look alright I guess… but certainly not “pretty”

It isn’t my car either – I’m not driving a Prius or anything (zing!). I’m driving my wife’s Buick Century. It’s an American car, and arguably one of the more reliable vehicles America has produced throughout the years. Good ol’ GM engines and all, I doubt it was my vehicle that tipped their perceptions of me in such a way. I also didn’t have the radio on, so the fact that I was listening to Brittany or a song like “Girls just wanna have fun” was clearly not the answer either, although if I was, would that really mean anything anyways?. What makes them believe my sexual preference falls within the same sex as myself?

“Ah,” I say to myself after 20-30 seconds of thought while driving through a construction zone, “It must be… these….”

Now granted, if it really is this – it’s a really shallow portrayal of gay people. These are just things in my wife’s car. If she had been driving, absolutely nothing would have come to it. It takes are real narrow-mind to believe I’m gay simply because of THAT. Especially when you can clearly see a wedding ring on my finger (of course, that doesn’t really mean much anymore I suppose, and given their attention to reality anyways, I doubt they even noticed). Not only that, but their belief system would have to be entirely based on propaganda and lies in order for them to jump to such a conclusion. Then again, that bumper sticker on the back of their white Impala does give me a lot to go on about how well they value evidence-based facts about the world around them.

Up until now, I’ve only observed and read about the hatred towards the LGBTQ community; and those who are gay in America. I’ve read news articles, watched news broadcasts and documentary films, and spoken to them to get a third-hand account of how they’re treated by an atrociously large percentage of the population still. Granted, it’s not the majority anymore, but that doesn’t mean the group of haters in the world isn’t disgustingly well populated. Up until today, I had never had any first-hand experience with such bigotry. After all, I’m a white male that lives in the suburbs away from inter-city life, and haven’t truly ever lived a life of absolute poverty yet, largely thanks to student loans while I was in school. Even with this, I must say, I feel my experience is about as small as any of you have actually experienced, and yet I’m appalled by even this small episode. I actually was astonished by how pathetic some people actually are.

I’ve met numerous gay people throughout my life. I went to school with them, hung out with them on more than a “nice to meet you” occasion, and have even played contact sports with them. In all my life, I’ve never met a single one that showed even the slightest bit of morbid hatred toward another person like this. Sure, everyone fights and argues with others when they disagree… but that’s not this kind of hatred. All of my experience with both men and woman of the LGBTQ community have been overwhelmingly positive. The straight religious right on the other hand… well, ya’ll got a lot of problems to deal with – and those problems are with yourselves. You show your true colors, and how insecure you are about yourselves when you do things like this. Treating people this way makes you a terrible human being. Don’t be a terrible human being. “Love” as your precious Jesus did.

To those of you experiencing fear and oppression over who you are – I’m sorry. On behalf of my country, which I myself aren’t even proud of, I’m sorry you’re still being treated this way. It saddens me beyond belief, almost to the point of absolute anger towards the religious right in our country. I really do wish you a better future, and look forward to this stuff going away swiftly, and all of those bigots who still feel ANY (even the slightest) discomfort about you, will be swept away and forgotten with history forever. May you go on with your lives free and happy. Be loved, and love one another.

Share your story with me?

All stereotypes aside now, it’s likely rather unique that this happened in my particular case, but I would love if those of you out there who have felt oppressed or hated like this would share your stories with me as well. Even if it isn’t the same situation (maybe somebody teases you about your weight, or you have a hobby or interest that is generally not accepted), feel free and open to share in the comments down below. Is it worse to be gay in America than it is in other modern developed countries? I obviously am aware of Russia and other extremely religious areas like Israel and all throughout the middle east, but what stories do you all have? Thanks for reading, take care!

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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1 Response

  1. Jason Meehan says:

    Than shame on them. For being the ignorant ones.

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