Jim Crow has arrived in Arizona, as the government there has seen it fit to let businesses discriminate against gay people, not serve gay people, and basically introduce gay segregation. It’s worth noting that bass-ackward-in-everything Kansas recently voted against a bill that would have let Kansas businesses do this very same thing.
This poses a small problem for me. No, let me rephrase that; it made a problem I plan to have very soon a little bit easier to solve. I’ve made no secret of my intention to leave Buffalo again, and as it happens, the Tucson area of Arizona holds quite a bit of appeal. Legendary world-class bicycling, an active population, and a lack of rain make Arizona’s primary college city stand out. Now, with gay segregation coming into vogue across the state, I’m out on my ass, and I’m not even gay.
I’m straight. Unfortunately, this stupid country still holds onto some cherished dark age beliefs regarding homosexuals, one of which is the idea of a working gaydar – that supposed inner instinct which allegedly allows people to tell if other people are gay strictly by looking at them. The whole idea is totally fiction, of course. I found that out early when I started meeting real homosexuals and all those flaming and butch stereotypes I had held before meeting them were all shot to hell. There is no ubiquitous cross-sexual look that all gay people hold, and no way to tell whether or not a person is gay by looks alone. I’ve been invited into the lives of many wonderful gay people – probably a fifth of my friends, at least – and none of them have any particular method of conforming to their homosexuality through anything other than their sexual preferences.
Yet, we get to be like those idiots who believe they can tell if someone ever committed a crime just by looking at them. Again, fiction, unless you happen to be looking at a picture of them on a Police report. It’s the same with gay people. There’s no way to tell if someone you’re looking at is gay through looks alone, but that doesn’t stop people from trying.
Arizona’s new Jim Crow law does the old Crow laws one better because of this habit. Do you “look” gay? If you do, be prepared to take hikes from a lot of bigot businesses in Arizona. It’s going to be like the stop and frisk law that was recently shot down in New York City: They can stop and frisk anyone they want if they suspect some random passerby on the street is carrying something or did something. I never did get to se a cop blotter for the stop and frisk law, but I’m guessing civil rights action complaints weren’t filed by a whole lot of Wall Street suits. I expect the business bigots of Arizona are going to play by a lot of those same rules. If you talk with a lisp, wear certain clothes, say certain words, and have certain hairstyles, don’t expect to be shown to your table in Arizona when you go to a restaurant, whether or not you’re really gay.
I guess in one sense, I should be happy about these stereotypes because they may ensure that more Bible-thumping homophobes than gay people get booted onto their asses.
On the other hand, there’s me, and I’m apparently a magnet for malfunctioning gaydars from both sides of the field. I really don’t know what it is about me that makes me scream “homosexual” at the first sight to more people than I could possibly count, but I do know that I have no interest in romantic intimacy with my own gender. I also know that large cross-section of people have mistaken me for a gay person, and that’s not even counting all the junior high bullies who threw the word “faggot” at me. These were full-fledged adults who are supposed to have fully-functioning brains in their heads. I’ve had far more men than women sexually proposition me, which I will admit is pretty flattering, but makes for awkward verbal exchanges.
So, say I go to Arizona now. I wonder how I could dress myself up to avoid “looking gay.” I’m not an Abercrombie and Fitch kind of person, I wouldn’t be caught dead in biker gear, but even dressing up in the ubiquitous Upstate New York look of a t-shirt and jeans has gotten me attention from my own gender. I like to present myself in a fairly well-groomed manner, and when I’m not an emotional wreck swearing up a storm, I actually speak with large words normally found in books and the occasional clever colloquialism. Also, I try to keep myself healthy because I don’t want to turn into a guy too large to tie his own shoes. So what would I do in Arizona to avoid raising a malfunctioning gaydar?
What this will raise is a de facto excuse for Arizona to discriminate against minorities. It’s a ready-made excuse: Someone in your insurance company the wrong color? Then they look gay, so get rid of them.
I guess avoiding the place completely isn’t out of the question. I hear Seattle is nice.