Voluntary Blindness

I was at a work related event several years ago. It started off as a rally then ended with a nice dinner. The rally was beyond cheesy. We all wore gaudy team t-shirts and were given metallic wigs, which most of us used as pom poms. You can imagine the reaction of my more fashionable coworkers when they realized we were going directly from the cheesy rally to the restaurant.

One of my younger coworkers pointed out that she had a van they could change in and several people climbed immediately inside, stylish shirts in hand. Five girls and Tim. That says something that five young women thought nothing of climbing into the back of a van with him and pulling off their shirts.

I’ve known Tim for five years now. He’s a wonderful young man who’s currently saving up for college. He’s friendly, cheerful, funny, and extremely devoted to his family. He’s also very gay, something that gets noticed a lot more than his other qualities. He’s the young friend I commented on in my advice post, who had a revolving door (similar to Jeremy’s) installed on his metaphorical closet.

This October, Jeremy and I went to a local rally against homophobia and transphobia and Tim was there. At one point he commented on how even the most flamingly obvious gay men he knew still ended up having to come out to family, who had absolutely no idea at all. Himself included.

Tim hasn’t worked with me for several years but I have another young coworker who’s equally as gay as Tim. I talk a lot about Jeremy and I think Brian finds it amusing how much my comments about Jeremy resemble him. He’s mentioned this a few times.

Last week, Brian was talking about how often friends are surprised to find out he’s gay because they couldn’t tell at all. My instant, albeit tactless, response was to blurt, “Are they blind?”

I was talking to an older friend of mine today who I’ve known for decades (he was my grade three music teacher) and I mentioned that Jeremy thought it would be cool to visit Russia. The friend was visibly taken aback and commented that would be a bad idea.

“He’d need to duct tape his mouth shut. And even then…” My friend’s voice trailed off as he shook his head again. I agreed.

“Jeremy told me last night that he thought Haiti would be interesting to visit too.”

The friend shuddered. “No, Haiti’s not a good choice. Actually, there really isn’t much of a good choice in the tropics.”

“Maybe Hawaii,” I mused. “Or we could just hit an indoor water park resort in our country.”

“Or a garden centre,” he agreed.

Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks that Jeremy and “acting straight” don’t fit together very well. And yet…

Other than that one time in the fall, when Emma commented that Jeremy acts really, really gay, she’s never mentioned it again. She told him she knows he’s straight and that was that. And no one else in my family has mentioned anything. They don’t like when he acts “silly” but otherwise that’s it. Obviously this isn’t something I can ask them. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when he eventually comes out.

I took a brief break from writing this blog to walk with Jeremy to a nearby strip mall. On our way, I shared a bit of the entry with him in the hopes of getting his insight. Instead I got his anger. I asked him why he was mad.

“It doesn’t matter,” he snapped. “It’s normal for people not to know someone’s gay. It’s not always obvious you know. With some people you can’t tell.”

I quickly dropped the subject although he’s still a little ticked.

That being said, it’s Superbowl Sunday, and that means… well, that means once Jeremy’s done the dishes, we’re popping up a bowl of popcorn and watching the original version of Fame. I can’t wait.


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