Headnote: Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is homosexual. Gay.
So there I was... at a housewarming party where half the guests were heterosexual, the others Gay. Our hosts, in this detached two-storey home, were a God-fearing celibate lesbian, and a heterosexual couple shamelessly living in sin. You might think the guests would nervously clump into two groups but no, we mostly knew each other already, and besides—we were cool.
I was sitting on a kitchen counter when a gay woman gently brushed my hair back and said softly, "You really should see a hairstylist." A minute later I carried my beer into the living room where a dear dyke friend of mine said "Hello!" and "You should see a stylist."
I said, "That's what someone else just said."
"I don't l know her name, but she was at a party last week put on by GLASS (gay and lesbian academics, students and staff).
I grinned conspiratorially and said, "So you know what this means?"
"She thinks I'm Gay." My friend laughed, "You're like an undercover spy!" and called two people over. One was a Gay friend, one was her straight sister. She shared her mirth, explaining, "When Sean left home he lived by Vancouver's Chinatown where he learned a new culture. Now he's learning ours."
Later that night I stared into my drink and remembered my Vancouver years. One day, over cheap draft beer, a guy I really liked bar crawling with had brought up the topic of homosexuals. But I was not cool. He asked, "Is this making you uncomfortable?
"Because your shoulders are really hunched and fingers are gnarled around your glass."
Years later I was at a hotel for a student weekend conference where some of us were vegetarian and some of us were out of the closet. Some older working man, a nonstudent who "didn't get it," it shouted down a stairwell, "I'm not gay!" Newsflash—Gays don't care if you are Gay; Chinese don't care if you are Buddhist... Chinese don't care if you are hopeless with chopsticks; Gays don't care if you are hopeless with fashion. My advice to old nonstudents: 'live and let live' and don't take yourself so seriously.
Since then I've learned why losing my prejudice is called getting liberated: because I lose a big weight off my smooth shoulders, a weight I didn't even know I was carrying.
Today my world is lighter, my heart is brighter—and I get invited to more parties.
as 2008 transforms into 2009,
into terra incognita