Living in a Straight World

One of the great paradoxes involved in getting out more is that becoming more active gives me a great deal more things to blog about while at the same time severely decreasing the amount of time I find to actually do the blogging part. For example, I still have something from Friday night’s comedy show that I want to blog about. And yet, here it is almost a week later, and I still haven’t found or made the time to write it down. And I haven’t mentioned the stroll my father and I took through Genesee Valley Park Monday evening, which is also worth noting. But for this post, I think I will stick to the subject of Friday night.

At one point during her show, Vickie Shaw asked any straight people in the audience to indicate their presence by applauding. Becky, who had agreed to accompany me that night, was one of three or four people who applauded. Of course, Vickie took this time to have a bit of fun assuring them that gay people actually like straight people, “We just don’t want you teaching our children.” She also made some comment about understanding that straight people just couldn’t help that they were straight. The whole thing was funny simply because of the reversal of the more common situation involved. Needless to say, Becky was thoroughly embarassed by the whole thing.

As we were driving out of the hotel’s parking garage, Becky commented on the incident, and asked if it bothered me to be in the reverse situation (often being the only gay person in a sea of heterosexuals) and made me as uncomfortable as that point in the show made her. I laughed and told her that no, I’ve been there enough that I’ve made my peace with such a situation.

At first, Becky didn’t understand this. She pointed out that she had been in similar situations before, and yet she found herself slightly uncomfortable every time. I nodded, but pointed out that there was still a difference. Even if she had such an experience once a month — or even once a week — it still wouldn’t quite compare to living that experience almost every minute of almost every day.

To the best of my knowledge, the most reproducible statistics say that gay and bisexual people make up between two and three percent of the population. Those are pretty low statistics, and it means that the probability of me being the only gay person in any given situation is pretty high. And even in cases where I’m not, it’s likely that there’s just one or two other kindred souls in the situation. That’s life, and you learn to get used to it or you drive yourself batty.

Of course, it helps when you join groups specifically for gay and bisexual people. One of the things I like about attending game nights and ImageOut events is that it does put my in places full of kindred souls. There’s a great deal of comfort in that.

But ultimately, the time comes — at least for those of us who don’t want to move to places like San Francisco — when life requires us to return to the wider world. And learning to deal with that is a matter of survival and mental health. Indeed, it’s best to learn to not only survive, but thrive in that situation. It’s a matter of rising to the occasion and building up a strength that can carry you through — and onward and upward.

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