I was checking out at a granola-corporate grocery, stuck in line behind a girl who knew the cashier and decided that they should have a quick catch-up. I gleaned that they were recently co-workers at this high-dollar health mecca, and that the girl had recently finished grad school and gotten a “real job.” (Umm, hello? You’re talking to your friend who still works here.)
The girl was having an existential crisis about what she wanted to eat – “Do I want chicken salad or sushi? Coconut water or coconut milk? Do I think therefore I am, or am I and therefore can think?” – and her cashier friend was playing her best Supermarket Socrates – “How hungry are you? How thick do you want your beverage? Can your thoughts exist without you?”
They continued on for a bit, talking about who went home with whom after the company Christmas outing and how crazy the holidays are.
The conversation went along these lines:
Existential Crisis: “Ugh, it was such a long day… TGIF… I want to go have a drink.”
Cashier: “Sounds like the new job is really working you. We have beers on aisle 1, you know this.”
EC: “Yeah, but they’re all gluten-free and only, like, 2% alcohol!”
Cashier: “Oh, I know… it’s like dating a woman – what’s the point?”
That last line really got my attention – my head snapped up and I met the cashier’s eyes. She looked pleased with herself for coming up with such a clever comment, and her eyes were searching for confirmation of that wit.
In the split second it took to process what words she had just allowed to escape her lips, an onslaught of thoughts rushed through my mind… ‘Huh? What? Did she just?? Control your face, Heather. You’re not on the clock, so don’t give a lecture. That was totally unnecessary. And not even that funny. We went from beers to chicks in the blink of an… Time to go.’
So, I forced a smiled and picked up the few things I had on her counter.
“I’m really happy with my girlfriend. She’s like those insane 9.2% European beers at the very least.”
Then I did an about-face, went to the other cashier, and left the store.
But before I pulled out of the parking lot, I had to stop and gather my thoughts. I was shocked. I was amused. I was dismayed. And, mostly, I was disappointed to have gotten the reality check that people still think that being gay is somehow inferior.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. I live in Texas, and a lot of people here are still anti-LGBT for one reason or another. Most take a religious stance and point to the infamous passage in Leviticus as a reason to continue the fight against gay marriage. Others blindly stick with their political party’s position. But, regardless of reasoning, the differentiation is there; and it perpetuates the message that being “gay” is not as good as being “straight.”
What basis that idea has, I don’t know.
It might be as simple as “That is different, and different is bad” or “That challenges the status quo, and that’s threatening, and threatening is bad.” Or it might be that some folks’ brains are too small to allow anything new – that epidemic seems to be sweeping the nation.
In my case, I’ve always been attracted to attractive people, regardless of gender and without it always being romantic. My first best friend and I would play house and both be mommies – gender wasn’t an issue. We just knew we had dolls who desperately needed love and plastic food and their diapers changed, and we were dedicated to making it work. My great-grandpa could sell ice to an eskimo, and he taught me that connections can be made with anyone, anywhere. Even though it was expected I would like the cute, athletic boy in 5th grade, I found him shallow and boring (the guy who liked comic books was much more interesting, and I signed up for Library Assistant so we could hang out more). A junior high friend’s cop mom was a powerhouse of beauty and strength, and I spent as much time as possible in her shadow, hoping to get some of her shine.
Ever since I was little, it was about connection. What someone had in their “bathing suit area” didn’t matter until I was told it mattered. Age didn’t matter; it mattered whether or not there was the spark. (And, on top of all that, I was too busy doing what I wanted to settle for mediocre feelings in a relationship.)
But when I met my girlfriend, there wasn’t only a spark. There were fireworks that streamed down into a pool of gasoline igniting a volcano that spewed tiny fire-breathing dragons that swooped into stardust. . . It was intense. I had never experienced such desire to learn about someone, to love someone, and to make someone a part of my life. And what overwhelms me at times is that, even after dating and committing and baring our souls, my yearning to know her and love her only grows.
You could tell me that the sky is now purple, and I would believe that before I would believe that what I feel is inferior to how Bob and Sue feel about each other.
I’ll say it again: gay is not inferior.
I have skin and bones, feelings and emotions, memories, dreams, vices, and opinions that are just as real as any person who professes to being attracted only to the opposite gender. Are those things any less valid now that I have a girlfriend?
I am an American, born with the same “rights” as the next person. If someone were to try to prevent me from marrying a guy, people would take note and take offense. But now that I’ve found myself madly in love with another woman, suddenly my desire to commit my life to another person isn’t as good. Because of where I live and who I love, my rights aren’t the same. Doesn’t make sense. And I won’t accept it.