I seem to be getting myself into all sorts of trouble these days with that set of chumps I made the mistake so long ago of choosing as friends.
This week it was over my refusal to accept the existence of something punters insist on referring to as Gay Culture. Pharisees that they are—and, indeed, themselves punters—my associates took this to mean that I disbelieved in the true existence of homosexuality. As a biological condition. Precluding choice. (All their vocabulary—I don’t know what the hell they were on about.) And so I was subjected to a good twenty minutes’ worth of some of the most clichéd moral outrage I’ve ever heard.
The consensus among them seemed to be that I was a variety of weak-minded religious fanatic; all taking the rather inexplicable line that my (what they called) homophobia was the result of biblical literalism. A bizarre notion, as to the best of my knowledge none of them has ever bothered to notice if I keep a Bible in the house. Though, I admit, I do. Many in fact.
When I was finally given the opportunity to defend myself, I did so thus:
Friends, it is not so much that I am a biblical flibbertigibbet— whatever it was that you said that I was—as it is that I am a man filled to overflowing with (a no doubt naïve) faith in my fellow man that he should recognize things for what they are and never imbue them with a character or authority that they don’t actually have. Gay Culture makes no more sense than does Nose Culture—and, as you’ll observe, Nose Culture makes no sense at all. Neither does Dextrose Cuisine or B Sharpism. They are nothing. They are nought.
The problem with this ridiculous idea that there exists a Gay Culture is that the word culture, in the sense that it is here being used, is far too comprehensive for the given sexual proclivity to provide for. I have no trouble with homosexual individuals per se, but this grandiose notion of a Gay Culture suggests a collection of persons so utterly stupid that they are willing to allow a purely material predisposition— what you have relentlessly been calling a biological fact—to impose itself upon their taste. Upon their prejudice. Upon, ultimately, their capacity to reason. (Which, incidentally, makes them something more in the nature of a mob than a culture.)
Observe the harm:
Last week Lenore and I were enjoying a drink on the patio of a restaurant on Bloor, and couldn’t help overhearing a conversation—indeed, it was more of a drunken, meandering monologue given in far too loud of a voice—between a gay man and whomever else would join him for a smoke just outside the patio door. I say that he was gay, and I hasten to add that this wasn’t the bigoted guesswork of a biblical literalist, as he kept on insisting on the fact himself. That he was gay, I mean.
Anyway, it happened that the fellow was interrupted in his discourse—as indeed were we all in ours—by the passing of a long train of cyclists, slowly and noisily making their way up the street, fresh back from some rabble-rousing event or other. They all seemed to be in their early twenties, and were wearing yellow shorts; they were shouting, and one, gleefully, tootling a horn (and doing a rather smart job of it too, I thought). The young men in the procession had nothing but the scant hair upon their chests to sweat into; the women, fractionally more modest, retained the use of their brassieres, though for many of them, to little effect. A jolly group—concluded we—much the better for drink and lack of clothes, back from some sporting event down Christie Pitts way. We waved to them from our seats, and they waved back from theirs, managing somehow not to fall off these precarious perches as they did so.
Once the brouhaha had subsided and the conversations resumed, our gay friend slipped back into gear:
“‘Was that?” he slurred loudly into the bar.
Somebody called something to him from inside, but his attention was too quickly cast back upon the now quiet street. His head rolled from right to left as he scanned for a clue.
Ten seconds passed.
“Oh,” he finally said, apropos of nothing. Then with conviction: “Dykes on Bikes”—which seemed to put an end to the matter.
Suffice it to say, it wasn’t Dykes on Bikes. Dykes on Bikes, as I understand it, is the coming together of a variety of highway hardened lasses, usually—shall we say—meaty of build, with unflattering haircuts, wearing rather a lot of leather and, of course, they are lesbians. And they ride motorcycles. What is important to note here is that no amount of booze could ever make it easy to confuse a gathering of mostly men on bicycles with a bunch of mostly women on Harley Davidsons. No. To do this, you must first purge yourself of any willingness to observe the world as it is ... Then, of course, you must put on a set of spectacles offering a very, very narrow view indeed.
Now, as you will observe, the harm that I spoke of with regard to this little episode belongs to none but our boozy and voluble gay man, so eager to see lesbians on motorcycles where none have actually passed. Never mind for a moment the despair-inducing vulgarity of anyone professing to take seriously a tradition calling itself Dykes on Bikes; ask yourselves, rather, could this man be of any use to his fellow men outside of the Church and Wellesley neighborhood?
“Excuse me, sir. Are you a local?”
“Well, I wanted to take Junior here to see the Santa Claus parade. It being the day, I was wondering if you had seen it pass?”“No, but the Pride Parade just did and it sucks ... By the way, what agency let you adopt the little guy?”Indeed, one wonders at the harm he might do himself:
“Hiya Doc. I've got a terrible headache and I'm getting a little concerned.”
“Now, now. Let's not get too worried yet. How many fingers am I holding up?”“Three penises.”“This is grave, indeed.”[I'm sorry to say, dear reader, that my defence ended here, as my companions promptly quitted the table, each of them calling me by turns a son of a bitch or a bastard ... At the very least, I rest assured that no more of my weekends for the next couple of months will be interrupted by awkward dinners with people so easily baited.]