I little while back one of John’s oldest friends came to visit; one of his fraternity brothers. John has been out to him for some time, but we were curious how he would take to me. Interestingly though, for our guest the visit was almost like an a 72 hour crash course in gay life.
I should start by saying that John’s friend Howard is a fairly liberal minded person, but but he’s a straight man who’s spent his life in relatively conventional relationships. So I don’t think he’s spent much time around gay people nor had he really considered what our lives are like.
Howard’s trip came in the late fall when the weather here starts getting a little unpredictable, so we weren’t quite sure how to keep him entertained. We new he wanted to try some of the fine dining in the area, but other than that he was open to our suggestion. Prior to his arrival we settled on a big fundraiser for a local HIV/AIDS charities for one evening’s entertainment.
The fundraiser is a annual event that is combination drag show and fashion show. The show was hosted by a local personality dressed in drag, he has a fabulous sense of humor and always keeps the show lively without being too risque. There were also several professional/semi-professional drag performers that performed several numbers. Amidst this were two fashion shows in which volunteers from the charity organization modeled clothes from two local boutiques.
Despite looking a little like a fish out of water, Howard seemed to really enjoy the show. He seemed most uncomfortable at the reception where he must have felt like the only straight guy in a see of gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. It probably didn’t help that John and I were the only two people he knew in that room.
Over the course of his three day visit John and I ended up discussing a lot of gay issues with Howard. The drag show brought up issues like transgender identity; John and I both told him stories about transgendered people we knew and their motivations for transitioning. I also think the fundraiser was a valuable thing for Howard to see, the mixture of social conscious raising and community building aspects of the gay community that most straight people don’t get to witness.
And of course we talked about our own relationship with Howard, and he got to witness our day-to-day life first hand. I give Howard lots of credit for being so friendly and open-minded. Despite the fact that he knew he was opening himself up to new and possibly strange experiences, he embraced the potential in that. He asked questions with a genuine curiosity to learn more about us. If only more straight people would take that sort of initiative they might learn that our community is something to be valued rather than demeaned.