Saturday, January 27, 2007

From the Street
On Wednesdays, I walk from the Upper East Side, where I live, to a comic book store near Grand Central. Wednesday is new comic release day (and you thought it was some pasta day!). On my city walks, I try to relax and take in the city and its people. I’ve seen some cool things. I’ve seen butterflies in midtown. I’ve seen a tough looking construction worker help a confused old man.

I’ve also seen some ugly things. I saw an ugly thing this past Wednesday.

Standing outside the comic store, as I wrapped up a phone call, I barely noticed three suits hurrying by. They caught my attention when one of them yelled a question to a non-Caucasian taxi driver leaning against his car.

“Hey you. Yeah you. Do you know who John Elway is? Yeah, do you know who John Elway is?”

I turned to see three white men in their late twenties or early thirties, overweight, suited, and walking with a post-happy hour swagger. They had straight-guy athletic haircuts - the kind white suburban high school football stars sport: cropped on the sides and smoothed forward on top with gel. The three didn’t stop walking as their alpha asked his question and repeated it.

“No.” the driver answered. His face was quizzical after hearing the question the first time. After it was asked a second time, he frowned, said, “No,” and got into his cab; a fare had just gotten into the backseat.

“See. I told you.” The white man said triumphantly to his white friends.

The three suits then crossed through a busy intersection against a Don’t Walk signal. I watched after them for a second, wondering if one of many cars speeding by might hit one or all of them, but none did.

"But you're a white guy," you say? I'm gay way before I'm white. For the most part, when straight white people find out I'm gay, they stop treating me like I'm one of them. Every dynamic of interaction changes the instant my sexuality is made known.

I've experienced straight white men quizzing me on football.