I have a conundrum. This is not a happy, Christmasy blog post. It’s something I need to get off my chest. Please, please, please do not read on if you aren’t girded for it. And please accept my heartfelt apologies for needing to get the ugliness out on Christmas morning.
There’s this man. He’s invited to parties because his wife’s has a long-term friendship with the hostess. He makes offensive statements and as a result people have learned to avoid or ignore him. They try not to start conversations with him because it will be one-sided and derisive. You cannot offer a counter position because he has learned never to stop for air or else you will take the opportunity to go away. He’s not talking because he’s interested in your opinion. Because people avoid him, when he does trap someone, the content of his conversations get increasingly extreme and ugly. It’s like he’s trying to provoke just to get attention.
I was at a party recently and it was that time of evening where people were gathered in a group and we started telling stories. Well, lo and behold, he had a captive audience and took the opportunity to tell a story of his own. It was rambling and disjointed. I wandered off, first mentally and then physically. When I wandered back into earshot, I heard him say, “Because you know the army hates queers.” My heart stopped beating. My head started to swim. It wasn’t the wine. It was anger. I could not let this man get away with a statement like that.
I know, you’re hoping that I will now tell you that I launched into a lambast of righteous, biblical proportion. I didn’t. I stood there, a little way outside of the circle, trying to figure out what the hell the story was that he was telling. Trying to figure out what had prefaced such a horrific statement. Trying to formulate what to say. I was incapable of rational thought. All I wanted to do was yell, “I’m queer and you have offended me.”
(BTW, I’m not using this blog to come out of the closet. Wanting to state “I’m queer” to me is like stating “I’m human”. See, I see myself as the same as all my friends – gay, straight, bi, trans, tri, furry, whatever – We’re all part of the same organism, not defined by our sexuality, and if my friend is ‘queer’ then so am I. I happen to enjoy sex with a male and I’m female. Does this make any sense?)
I knew that an outburst would be a death knell to the party. I knew that I didn’t have anything thoughtful to go on, no argument to clearly make, no position to politely yet resolutely take. Hell, I had no idea what he was talking about. All I could think of was that bombshell sentence. I also knew that it wouldn’t have mattered to him. It would only have mattered to me – and perhaps to the other people in the party who became silent when he uttered those foul words.
As soon as it was possible to do so, our hostess (who is a champ) deftly steered the story telling to other people and tried to recover the bonhomie of the evening. Blessedly, it was getting late and time to start the long drive home anyway.
I am not usually in the company of people like this. When this happened, I was at a loss. I do not want to respond in anger. I also do not want to imply acceptance of these sorts of statements via my silence.
(Personal note to this son-of-a-bitch: Part the First: Deleted for content beneath me. Part the Second: Thank you, Mr. Dickwad, for bitch-slapping me with this experience. Now, I get the opportunity to prepare for dealing with these situations. Thank you for reminding me that I refuse to live in fear of encountering this kind of abuse. I will be ready next time.)
To my blog readers: Thank you for listening. This was entirely selfish, but I really needed to vent and I feel better. Now, I’m going to go enjoy Christmas with my family. I hope that you are surrounded by love and peace.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… Thank you.