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Can’t Hurt My Pride

Room for Squares

A few years ago, I was watching “Queer As Folk” and Brian Kinney, in typical unforgiving candor, gave his opinion of straight people. He said, “There are only two kinds of straight people in the world: the ones who hate you to your face and the ones who hate you behind your back.” At the time, I thought that statement was too harsh and overly cynical, but something happened this last Pride weekend that almost made me change my mind.

I guess you could call it a minor scuffle but with major implications. To fully describe the altercation, I first have to explain something about myself. Generally speaking, I don’t have many gay friends. I mean, I hang out with a lot of straight people because for one reason or another, I never really learned how to be friends with gay men. But that’s another topic for another week. We’re talking about straight people, which I guess would explain why, either in the face of or in spite of Pride, I decided to go to a straight bar in the Inner Richmond on Friday night.

One of my few queer friends and I drove around all night looking for queer parties, but all we found were long lines and even longer waits. Discouraged, she and I decided to meet up with some straight friends at a straight bar. Although we had a good time, perhaps going to a straight bar was our first mistake. Our second would’ve been reacting to the heckling we received from some of the less than friendly patrons. A few choice words and one quick exchange of diatribes later, we were in trouble. Details of the brawl are unnecessary. It’s sufficient to say that apart from a busted lip, I also suffered some seriously bruised pride. Man, I got gay bashed for gay Pride.

The irony of the situation didn’t escape my notice, nor did the fact that we were lucky enough to have escaped serious injury. But beyond the physical ramifications of the fracas, I was afraid that the more permanent damage might have been to my perception of heterosexuals. I could sense it like a match that had been stricken somewhere in my mind. And somewhere in there, Brian Kinney was going to use that match to light a cigarette.

To say that I was a bit shaken up is no surprise. I knew that an altercation like that could easily set off someone’s rage. All I could think about was something I had heard once, that “the only good fag is a dead one.” I can’t even remember where I had heard it or who said it, but that didn’t matter to me anymore. What mattered now was that it had been said, and that, obviously, some people agreed with it. Far from wanting to combat violence with rage, I realized that I had the best opportunity to overcome it right in front of me: Pride.

The next day I threw myself into festivities: brunch, Dyke March, a film screening, Pink Saturday. I mean, I hadn’t been to that many queer events in a long time. But at the end of the night something was still missing. I never had qualms with being gay to begin with, so getting beaten up wasn’t going to change that. It had to be something else, something being surrounded by gay people wouldn’t fix, at least not for me. And then I had it: what I needed was to be around heterosexuals again. I needed to be around them and not feel mad and not feel sad; I needed to be around them and feel like I always had. I needed reassurance that whenever something like that happens to people like us, we can still go on being the same people, because simply put, there’s nothing wrong with us.

The moment I met up with my friends, I knew that the bad apples from Friday night didn’t spoil the bunch. Sure, it’s always easier to write off the whole than to keep faith in a few. But if we believed what Brian Kinney said about heterosexuals, then we’d have to be prepared to believe what they might say about us. And quite frankly, we have a little more pride in ourselves than that.