Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shirtless fire thrower

As a co-leader of Q+ (the LGBT group at Yale SOM), I'm often asked about the gay scene in Yale and New Haven, and I more or less say that from what I hear it's fine if that's your bag, but that I really don't know. I'm gay, and happy to have gay friends if they possess other qualities I look for in a friend, but I've never been compelled to seek out the gay scene, which I associate with late nights, parties, clubs and soap opera-worthy interminglings.

I'm an early riser. I like sunrises and breakfast. I like one-on-one interactions and small groups, singing along with the radio in the car, reading over coffee, talking and snacking in a living room. I like games and interesting articles and things that are beautiful or challenge my mind. I like flowers and silence and sunlight. I don't like dark rooms, and I don't like night time. I don't like noise, or moving awkwardly to bad music. And now I don't drink, and only very rarely have a cigarette. Maybe I'm just a dorky old man, but the "scene" doesn't really fit my tastes.

I can partake of the scene a couple times a year, but for me it's the emotional equivalent of going to a baseball game. It's something I never think about unless I'm there, so someone usually has to suggest it and take me there. And if I'm there, it's fine, but I'm also kind of keeping an eye on the clock.

This has nothing to do with having a problem with being gay or disliking gay people. On the contrary, I've been out since high school and have no problem with being gay at all. I wouldn't have co-led Q+ otherwise. Do I like gay people? Sure, to the extent I like people, but what does that mean? Do I like people from Kansas? Some, but not all. Do I like vegetarians? Some, but not all. Those aren't relevant dimensions to me. I have gay friends, but they're not my friends because they're gay, they're my friends because we get along.

Last night, two first-year students threw a reception at their house for LGBT and allied admitted students, and when that disbanded, a couple of us went to a party hosted by some gay Divinity School students. That's where I shot the video above, of the fire thrower. There, among the people I spoke to was a first-year PhD student in psychology (fresh out of undergrad, I assume). He asked if I was a prospective student, and I said I was a second-year MBA, about to graduate in a couple weeks. From what I could hear amid the cacophony, he said something like "Really? Wow ... So you must never come out," meaning of course that he didn't recognize me. I also interpret the surprise to imply being almost accused of actively avoiding the gay scene, as if it's the default and I had to opt out of it by doing other things with my time. The truth is I feel like I go out a lot, but of course he wasn't asking if I leave my house, he was asking why I don't spend my time with the gays. To that, I ask myself, "Why would I, necessarily?"

This weekend, I'm going fishing with Matt, one of my best friends. Matt's straight. Some of my closest friends are straight guys, in fact. Most are straight girls. Some of my friends are black, and some are not. Some are married, others single. They are fat and thin, older and younger, American and international, Southern and Northern, analytical and creative, able-bodied and disabled. If I were to tally, I dunno, maybe 10% of my friends are gay, reflecting the population at large. It might be even more. But I just don't care about that. I want to be around people who are nice, funny and interesting, people I can talk to and trust and feel good around. People who get me, and who I get. Why do I care who they kiss?

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said, orientation is just a small percentage of the many traits that defines us as an individual human beings.