I knew the minute I said the word “fag” to him, I had opened some kind of floodgate. Furthermore, as I listened to him spin this yarn, telling me how everyone is constantly telling him what a fag I am and he’s the only one who stands up for me, I realized that this man is America. I learned one thing very quickly, and it’s funny because I could tell by the looks of his friends’ faces that they saw it, too; he’s a fucking homophobe.
No one argues harder for sainthood than a true sinner.
I saw our entire history as acquaintances unfurl before me like a road that leads to a different destination now, like I’d been reading a map upside down.
We had been talking with his friends about, what men in groups always talk about, sex. However, when we were talking about eating pussy, this guy dismissed me out-of-hand, then started challenging me. When I said, “I know everyone thinks I’m just the ‘bar fag’…” he launched into this whole spiel.
This tangent was all about how he protects me from everyone around me and he’s this gatekeeper that allows me to freely visit this space (that I’ve been going to since long before he lived in this town). This is homophobia, make no mistake. He agrees with every damn negative thing that he’s heard people say about me, but he gets to trot me out and say “My friend is gay, but…” whenever he wants to exonerate himself from culpability for his feelings or things he says.
The reason I say ‘this man is America’ is because I suddenly understood the election of Donald Trump. All this time, we were under the impression that the racist undercurrents in America were receding and that things were really getting better as older generations started to die off and take with them memories of “the good ol’ days” when black people could freely swing from trees like Billie Holiday used to sing about in Strange Fruit. (Again, not me, just paraphrasing an asshole I met a few years back who told me that that song reminded him of his youthful fun, not realizing, I guess, that that song is a critique of lynching).
Donald Trump spoke for these people who thought horrible things but could sputter “My black friend says…” anytime they thought their mouths were getting ahead of them, because they had been shamed into closeting their bigotry. Donald Trump brought these people out of the closet and made them an electorate.
And here was this guy singing the praises of a new iteration of Strange Fruit between the lines of his guardianship. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do, but I certainly know now that this guy isn’t safe whatsoever, and that people who don’t see how dangerous he really is therefore don’t quite understand how much of my safety is at risk when these people come around.
I’m not afraid of the man who calls me a faggot to my face and tells me to go to Hell, I’m more afraid of the man who silently agrees with him while tacitly expressing disapproval to him and half-hearted support for me, because the moment he feels safe, he will open his mouth and tell his truth.