I’ve heard a statistic: that approximately three percent of Americans are openly gay. How true this is, I haven’t a clue, however, allowing for a reasonable margin of error that still leaves us as a feeble minority in accordance with size. It is a fact of life we all live with and sometimes don’t even notice. I noticed, for the first time in a while, just last week.
I was in a public bathroom at one of my favorite imbibing locales when, after some brief standing urinal banter (polite and rated PG despite the context), the sot next to me called me a fag. I was furious. In all of my 25 years I had never been called that (in hindsight I should be quite grateful).
I fled the bar, bright red and pulsing veins on my temples, forcing a premature last call on my entourage of two before fuming out into the night disgruntled and angry. I spent a few days mulling in regret over the things I should have done or said at that moment. Would it have done any good to call him a name back? To eloquently share the bigotry associated with said word? Should I have been the bigger person? Should I have taught him a lesson?
In the end I’ve concluded it doesn’t matter. I’ve realized I was really mad at my own emotion of offense. I allowed the words of someone else to dictate my emotions and that alone made me feel very, very small.
There will always be ignorance and fear lurking in bathrooms everywhere. There are a lot of people in the world and, just like how everybody poops, everybody’s different. So although I can’t find a reason for anyone to agree with calling someone a fag, I’m resolved at least to acknowledge the importance of a different opinion (even a stupid one).
Perhaps if I wasn’t so blinded by initial fear/rage I might have been able to enlighten a stranger, instead I gave the bigot power and, sadly, fuel for the future. Words can really hurt, but not if we don’t let them, whether they come from a soggy drunk or a Republican senator. One of the greatest feats one can accomplish would be to maintain an unfounding cool, even in the presence of the most formidable bullying.
Salt Lake City