(Or How to Be Proud and Conspicuous On V-Day) By Scott King
I waited tables in East Tennessee FOREVER. It’s where I learned how to be an adult. It’s where I learned how to be a gay guy without being THE gay guy. Unless I needed to use it to get me out of a jam. Or as an excuse to kick out the jams. Valentine’s Day was the pits. Almost literally. Buckets of dumb pink roses would be waiting for us on the stainless steel emergency room of a table where we usually rolled silverware. Roll me to the state penitentiary I am already living in a prison of bourgeoise desire. It was so gross. At the end of the meal, when we presented the check, TO THE FUCKING MAN, we were instructed to present a pink rose to each of the female gender-identified guests at the table. This was part of our job. The grandmothers loved it. They blushed for the first time since Watergate. The mothers were nervous and confused, blinking hard and staring blankly at their husbands. I’m guessing they were wishing they had bought their bibles for guidance. The young wives, I’d say I had about a 50-50 chance with them, but they weren’t exactly my type if you know what I mean (and I think you do). The dudes were SO not into it. “Hey buddy, you wanna take her home with you, too?” No strings attached, bro. Some genius on staff would ask one of the managers, “Hey, what if it’s two guys hahaha,” to which the manager would reply, “Ask who’s the man and who’s the woman.” Not a particularly progressive answer. We weren’t backwards. We weren’t backwoods. It was just heteronormativity manifesting itself at the tail end of the Bush era. I told my manager straight up if two guys or two girls show up all lovely, proud and demure on Valentine’s Day, they’re both getting roses from me. You can take it out of my gay paycheck. Needless to say, I made bank that night. What does all this have to do with transubstantiation?
34 | 02.14.18
Think about it. When Carrie and Miranda had a lover’s spat at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, it elicited a complex chuckle. It wasn’t homophobic; it was transgressive. Relationships are relationships. Love is love. On gay dates, the servers no longer smile too broadly at us. We’re getting there. But recent studies show that homophobia and distaste for the LGBT community are on the rise. Homophobia is once again in vogue. It’s being marketed as common sense and as making America great again. It was horrifying to see the hashtags calling for Americans to take back New Year’s Eve. Take it back from the beautiful Andy Cohen and the lovely and talented Anderson Cooper. Back to Dick Clark, apparently. Because Dick is so heteronormative. So what’s the solution? I have one suggestion: connect to the world. Your family that you came out to five years ago, with whom it was a bit awkward, they have probably had time to adjust. Your aunts, your uncles, your stepdad. They love you. They now, including you, have FOUR gay friends. Wow! It’s a start. So you’re in love, then? Your mister has made you glad to be a sister. Has made you forget about all the bad dates. About all the awkward conversations with acquaintances, family, and co-workers about your boring sexual orientation. He’s the one. He made reservations and everything. It’s Valentine’s Day. Get out there and show it. Show it by showing up. Show by not using euphemisms for your boyfriend or husband or flashpan lover. Show it by not allowing it to be a big deal. Show it by not being self-conscious on a gay date on V-Day. This is Atlanta, after all. We run this place. Scott King is an Atlanta-based writer, consultant, and political activist. He enjoys tennis, hiking, rock concerts, and having drinks with friends. He is currently working on a novel about a hooker with a heart of Bitcoin.
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