So it appears that men at bars may help me figure out how I feel about men. Right now, I’m leaning toward “total lesbian.” It’s helpful, I guess.
So my friend Elise and I went bar-hopping with me last night. I have known Elise since high school, and she’s always been something of a troublemaker – adopting a “goth” style at a conservative Christian school, smoking, not graduating on time because her grades didn’t quite make the cut, getting pregnant right after she did graduate. She has 3 kids with the guy now and is married to him. They’re a great family. We like to laugh about those crazy high school days. When I first moved back to my parents’ house, I figured I could come out to her without much worry of her judging me.
To summarize that episode – her reaction was not as supportive as I thought it was going to be. She had asked the typical questions, OMG, when did you figure this out, have you ever dated a girl, have you told your parents, etc. But then she sat me down and said, “I feel I have to say this as a friend and as a Christian. Are you aware that the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination?”
It was like someone had cracked a 2×4 over my head.
I blinked at her. “Are you being serious right now?” (Because, you know, Elise is a prankster, and it would be just like her to make a joke like this.)
But she wasn’t joking. So I had to excuse myself. I went home and collected my thoughts and wroteher an email. I told her that yes, I was quite aware, we were raised in the church together, were we not? I told her that maybe I hadn’t made it clear when several years earlier I had told her that I didn’t really have a religion anymore, but I would like to reaffirm this, and that in light of this, what the Bible does or does not say is of no significance to me, it’s irrelevant. I told her that if I were a Christian, I would not believe that God would create people gay and then condemn them for who they are. And I told her that she didn’t have to be comfortable with my sexuality and we didn’t have to talk about it all the time, but that if she was really my friend, she would accept me for who I am and not try to change me.
She apologized profusely and assured me she accepted me, and said she hoped we would be friends our whole lives.
I am glad I gave her that chance. She’s never had to interact with a gay person so directly before, and I think sometimes if people have never had a friend come out to them, they sometimes don’t know what to do. They revert to the textbook response their religion has taught them without evaluating whether that response makes sense. Since then, she has become even more supportive and open-minded, offering to set me up with girls in bars and saying things like, “If any guy – or girl – ever breaks my daughters’ hearts someday…”
So where was I? Oh yeah, last night. Elise wanted to do karaoke. I was just in it for the drinks and for hanging out. Now, there is a big shiny gay club in our neighborhood that she’s been wanting to check out, but the thought of her hitting on girls and introducing me to god knows who freaked me out a little, so we went to a couple of backwoods deer-hunter bars instead. A few songs in, I wished we had gone to the damn gay bar.
There was such a presence there. An atmosphere of patriarchy and beer. There was one girl there who looked like Miley Cyrus with a shaved head and leather and sunglasses (yes, sunglasses INSIDE the dark bar), but she was there with a friend and basically just wanted to perform 500 songs, so didn’t really change the mood.
We had been there about 20 minutes when a guy walked in. For a guy, he was decently good-looking. White, bearded, wearing all denim. But he was clearly already half-drunk. The cute bartender I’d been checking out skipped right up to him and proceeded to talk and flip her hair and touch his nose playfully with her finger and peel her jacket off to reveal a boob-hugging white tank top and laugh hysterically at everything he said and ignore all the other people who needed their drinks refilled. Ugh, straight people, I thought.
But then she had to go somewhere and Elise got up on stage for her first song, and I was left sitting in the corner sipping a Malibu rum and orange juice.
The dude was walking toward me with a hungry smile. Fuck! In panic, I pulled out my phone and tried to look busy scrolling through Facebook.
“Hey, you look lonely over here,” he drawled. He sat down right next to me.
“Hi,” I said awkwardly.
He looked me over for a good ten seconds. “Oh, I get it. You’re shy, right?”
“You have trouble talking to guys?”
No, dork, just you. You’re repulsive.
He clearly thought he had a shot. “I don’t see a ring on that finger. What’s the story there?”
OMFG. Elise was still on stage. If she hadn’t been, I would have kissed her in desperation to get my point across. But somehow, “I’m a lesbian, fuck off” got stuck in my throat before I could utter the words. All I could manage was, “No. Just….no.” There. I sounded like an even bigger bitch.
“All right, well, we should get to know each other.” He was grinning at me. His breath stank. “So are you conservative or liberal?”
For real? What breed of moron asks that as an icebreaker?
“Liberal,” I said drily.
He looked a little stunned, like someone had run a jolt of electricity through his body. “Wow,” he said, more to himself than to me. “Wow. So you support, like, gay rights and abortion and shit?”
I’M GAY, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE! I wanted to scream, but didn’t. (I guess, when pressed, that’s how I see myself? Hm. Interesting.)
“Yup,” I said, busying myself with my phone. I was pissed now. Obviously from his reaction, he did not support women or gays. I had no interest in continuing the conversation. And why was it his business at all what I believed?
He wanted to know my religion.
“I don’t have any,” I said. Elise had finished her song. I practically bulldozed several people running over to her. “You were AMAZING,” I said, then lowered my voice. “Save me from this freak.”
He was following me. “Hey,” he said to Elise. “I was just keeping your friend company.” (As if I was a loaf of bread that needed to be sat on to be kept warm.)
He looked at me again, and back at the bartender. “Hey, you and I can make her jealous…”
That was the moment I chose to make a dive for the bathroom. I locked the door and braced myself against the wall, catching my breath. When I opened my eyes there were posters of naked men everywhere. “Eww!” I screamed, and covered my mouth.
I was shaking. I was angry. I was upset that I didn’t look more gay. I’m going to apply rainbow face-paint and wear a shirt that says “I’m a lesbian” next time, I thought. And I was upset that I hadn’t been able to stand up for myself or articulate my disinterest, or come out to a total stranger.
Granted, I think a lot of straight girls would be turned off by this man’s behavior, but damn. My reaction only reinforced my preference for women.
When I came out of the bathroom, the dude was chatting up the bartender again, but she looked a little irritated. He was gone after another 2 songs. I let out a big sigh of relief.
“Just so you know,” Elise whispered to me, “I totally would have kissed you if I’d been over here.”