in for a penny, in for a pound (hence the masthead – a throwback)

quick warning –

the following bit from exactly twenty years ago contains trigger words for today’s culture because it’s something from twenty years ago. don’t say i didn’t warn ya…

06/02/2002: “differences”

i am a white male who is college degreed, between the ages of 18-34, and clocking in at over $25K a year. i am THE target demo for every major marketing campaign in the world. THE majority, no matter how unique i want to claim to be. but last night i felt like a minority. i did not feel out of place, grant you; i’m pretty much a social chameleon who can blend into a lot of situations, regardless of it being a country club brunch or a hockey game in a rodeo arena. but last night, i witnessed something i hadn’t thought about.

chris rock, a few hbo specials back, made a great routine about the difference between “black people” and “niggas”. likewise, growing up in a small town with a large hispanic population as i did, i used to make the differentiation between “latinos” and “messcans”. yesterday my “sister” kathi and i unwittingly immersed ourselves in a social experiment whereby we learned there’s a difference between “gay men” and “fags”. and the latter i don’t mean in the british slang for cigarettes kinda way.

one of my best friends in high school (and ever since) is a guy named bret. bret came out about eight years or so ago, and those of us who were close enough to him to know him weren’t really surprised. to borrow from adam sandler (of all people), “it’s still the guy i grew up with and love like a brother, it’s just he watches a different kind of porno now”. same great guy, same great friend, same great taste…in ALL things, i might add. and i’m secure enough in my masculinity to say so.

bret and leo are midway through remodeling their place (inspired me to get a bit of work done sunday as well) and it looks great. (theirs i mean, not mine). we all had drinks, kicked back, talked about times old and new, booze, music, tattoos, etc, etc. easily the coolest part of the dallas trip. plus, even after three years without seeing each other (give or take, but DAMN close to it) bret and i still got along as if it had been days not years since we’d seen each other. that’s how you KNOW the people that belong in your life…even after absences from one another, you both seem to grow, you just never grow apart.

we took off (regrettably, on many levels) for the reason we went to dallas in the first place…to finally see one of the bands i’d grown up enjoying but had never gotten to witness, the pet shop boys. seen omd, the cure (twice), new order, and depeche mode (SIX times); but had never seen the pet shop boys. or inxs (a little late for that one, i suppose), duran duran, the psychedelic furs, and ministry. but the pet shop boys were in dallas, and i had a way to score free (excellent) seats, so i did, and one more can be struck from the “need to see” list. good show. and much like bret, the pet shop boys have come out since i was in high school, and none of us were really surprised.

their fans, however, i don’t think were ever “in”. not even master p’s closet (did you see mtv’s cribs show he was on? it’s bigger than my car) could hold THIS. “prissy” was the word that came to mind. OFTEN. bret and leo are gay men. just regular (very cool) guys who happen to not be romantically interested in women but do happen to be romantically interested in each other. these guys at the show? these were “fags”. screaming, flaming, shrieking, flamboyant, feminine, somewhat frightening, ricky-martin looking (at least the guy in front of us in the lace-up “pirate” shirt – who was definitely “living la vida homo”), prissy-as-all-get-out FAGS.

on a large level, god (or allah, or buddha, or the godess, or whomever you happen to believe in) bless them. they are who they are, there’s no denying it, they’re proud of it, and last night they seemed to be positively enraptured. i hope one day to have that level of unashamed, unabashed happiness in my life (while still remaining straight, of course). but at the same time, DAMN was i not expecting quite what we got out of that crowd. i can honestly say i’ve never been in a room of close to 2,000 people and been the most masculine one in the room…but last night, there were NO close seconds. kathi and i spent almost as much time watching the crowd as we did watching the stage.

as i figured,all the older material got more of a crowd response then the newer stuff, which all seemed to be a bit slower and undanceable (although when the beat was there, BELIEVE me, dance these boys did…finger snapping, hands above head, diva-inspired DANCING…ms. janet would be proud) the cover versions seemed to get the most explosive response. on the flame-o-meter (1 to 10), willie’s “you were always on my mind” rated about an 8.5, u2’s “where the streets have no name” got about an 9.2, and the village people’s “go west” ranked about a 13. i think if they had pulled out a suprise cover of either “copa cabana” or “it’s raining men” the place would have spontaneously combusted.

i didn’t get to sleep till about 4:30 am (we drove back from dallas after the show) and got up at noon. i’m gonna do nothing but watch sports, porn, and hunting shows to balance everything out. later i might have to go shoot something and cook it. or hit a strip club. just something undeniably hetero to swing the pendulum back my normal way.

what disturbs me is, if you say the term “gay” or “homosexual” in front of most people, they would lump both my friends and the crowd at the pet shop boys all into one group. but if you won’t lump a (pink) 1984 nissan maxima and a 2003 bmw 3 series with the twelve speaker stereo and titanium interior (bret & leo take delivery of it later this month) in the same column, you ought to know better. there’s a difference. and it only takes about five seconds to figure it out. if i had whipped out an arturo fuente 858 maduro in bret & leo’s kitchen, i could have had a few light-up options….the new, cool, robotic fan stove, the old, retro looking stove, or one of them probably had a lighter (few candles about, i’m just assuming…and no, i would never smoke in their house).

but i couldn’t have lit up off of THEM. at the show, each member of the crowd was a zippo with an abercrombie model’s hair cut. THAT’S the difference. neither is right or wrong, but there is a difference. it IS pride weekend here in austin, after all…just though this would be a good public-service announcement. believe it or not, folks, there’s a large part of the gay population so flamboyant that OTHER gay people make fun of them…

Replies: 1 Comment

warren [my roommate and head honcho at the CDH] had quite a few “not so nice” comments on the pride parade. it was quite funny.

josh said @ 06/02/2002 08:55 PM GMT

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