by Michelle Tea
It seems silly to imagine a "straight community." I mean, isn't the whole frickin' world the straight community? It's so large it's almost incomprehensible to heteros, who, because they can't quite grasp the existence of their own too-big-for-its-own-good "community," gaze fondly, enviously, at the bonds that hold us homos together. It's true, queer people do take care of their own. I can hit a new town, walk into the local gay bar--an ominous, windowless place named "Chances" or "Fantasy"--and boom, I've got some new friends and probably some free drinks as well.
And no doubt my new friends and I have friends in common. In the nationwide gay community, we're never six degrees away from an ex-girlfriend, ex-roommate, crazy ex-friend. We are all Kevin Bacon. And it's nice--it makes traveling easier, it makes the world at times less lonely, and it can make me feel like I'm in on a secret club, a worldwide clandestine organization with regional offices sporting more neon Bud signs, but fewer windows, than a Masonic lodge.
Still, when I hear breeders sweetly whining about how they wish they had such a tight-knit, strong-boned community, it gives me the same sort of annoyed feeling I get when a straight girl, recently fucked over by her loser boyfriend, tearfully emotes, "I wish I was a lesbian!"
First of all, me too; I wish everyone was a lesbian--all the straight girls, anyway. But somehow I doubt these crybabies could handle the intricate mindfucks, the passive-aggression, the marathon processing and sheer volume of tears a bad lesbo relationship can bring down on you. Look how knocked down they are by the caveman-simple "Boyfriend Got drunk! Boyfriend Kissed Girl! Boyfriend Doesn't Talk About Feelings!" Poor things. What they need is a nice dyke shoulder to cry on, maybe some angry man-hating dyke sentiments to stew in before they waddle back to the boyfriend and make up. What they don't need is a roguishly charming boydyke who'll only get drunk, mack on your best friend, and then not talk about it because you guys had an open relationship with boundaries designed by a mathematician or a computer programmer. No, that would ruin their straight-girl fantasies about those really pure, uplifting, nurturing relationships they'll have someday... if they can just get over the pussy thing.
Okay. I'm not only being sort of mean, I'm way off subject. I wanted to tell the straight folks who get misty-eyed about our community--probably during Gay Pride, when PFLAG trots by, or when the queer parents roll by with their strollers--that they couldn't handle it, but I'd love to set them up with some sort of mock-community, like when we all got to vote in fake elections in grammar school. In fact, let's do it. (Some of you straight people who have done shitloads of lefty organizing may feel that you are in familiar territory, as will any of you who struggled through high-school social hierarchies.)
Here's your first community-building challenge, straight folks--no, wait. We need backstory. The scene is, you are a wicked oppressed minority group. When you walk through the street holding boy-girl hands, anonymous thugs hurl beer bottles at your heads. This is in a major city where you'd think they'd be hip to the whole "love knows no boundaries" business, but no. Straight white men, whom fags can see coming a mile away, with their slovenly "fashion," their stinkiness, the cloud of "Duh" that surrounds them, aura-like--these men, now the most vulnerable of our society, are often victims of terrible acts of violence, when gangs of hairdressers descend upon them and stab them repeatedly with the sharp ends of teasing combs. They are asphyxiated by gusts of aerosol hairspray blasted into their blocky, unshaven faces. When the straight community runs to the government in outrage, insisting that this was a hate crime, that this savage and bizarre tragedy happened because this man was straight, the legislature snorts coldly and snips, "All crimes are 'hate crimes,' Mary." They don rubber gloves to heft you from their offices, as they do not want to catch your hetero cooties.
So the straight community gathers together to form a self-help group of sorts, a straight street patrol whose mission is to make the streets safe for breeders and help prevent any more so-called "hate crimes." They even generously decide that they'll intervene if they see a gay person getting his or her ass kicked, rare though that is, 'cause they're peace-loving straight people who want to stop the violence. One day, at a planning meeting, you are devising your gang's uniforms, which must not only be very ugly but must make you stand out like sore thumbs so that you can be the objects of more public derision. You realize that one of your members maybe isn't straight! She seems a little dykey. Her mom is straight, she anxiously explains, and she's pretty sure she is too, but she's... questioning. Do you say, Hey, that's okay, we just need sheer physical numbers here 'cause it's a matter of public safety, of life-or-death bashings, of protecting people and making them feel safe? No, fools! You say, Um, wow, we didn't realize you were dyking out, that's cool that your mom's straight and everything but we straight people need to do this rather doomed and ill-outfitted street patrol thing on our own so get lost, lesbo. (It's okay, in this futuristic scenario, to throw around "lesbo" like that, since they are the oppressive ruling class, but don't get too comfy with it.)
Here's another situation we can explore, so that you straight folks will be better able to take on this gay-community business you so admire. Imagine a rather old institution--a gathering that occurs annually. I'm looking for parallels in the straight community and coming up with, um, maybe the X Games? Lollapalooza? Ozzfest? It turns out there is something deeply wrong, deeply evil, about, say, our parallel-universe Ozzfest, and it's not Satanism. It turns out there are certain kinds of straight people they just won't let in. How can they be so cruel? They have dumbass ideas about what makes a person "straight'" perhaps; they are supremely out of touch and filled with a stubborn sort of fear. It is a truly lousy situation, the kind of thing that makes you feel ashamed to be a straight person.
So do you boycott Ozzfest? Yes, of course you do, very good, very good! And encourage metalheads everywhere to not perform on the Ozzfest stage. But don't stop there. You must cultivate a talent for making simple problems difficult and taking complicated situations and developing simplistic and, ideally, hurtful solutions. You must boycott all the bands that play Ozzfest--yes, that includes that cute all-girl speed-metal band from Japan that's gotten its first paying gig ever, and also the death-metal band from Sweden that had no idea what it was getting into. Keep going. Please disinvite all Ozzfest bands from any other straight community events, even though they may have a real problem with Ozzy's small-minded policies, too. And buy some spray paint and spray mean-spirited graffiti about said bands, such as "So-and-so hates straight people!"--even though some of the people in these bands are certainly veering toward heterosexual. Once everyone on both sides is feeling alienated, intimidated, angry, and sort of sad, keep going.
And have a happy Straight Pride.