The Free Toaster

Friday, January 14, 2011

It hasn’t come yet, and let me say, I am disappointed.  Years ago a lesbian friend of mine told me that straight people thought that all gay people were out “recruiting” and if they turned one, they would get a free toaster.  Maybe it was a nebulous “they” that has me confused — was it “they”, the gay ones, turning the straight ones or was it the straight turned gay “they” to which she was referring?  If it was the latter and not the former, I haven’t gotten my toaster yet.  If it was the former and not the latter, my partner, someday wife, hasn’t gotten hers either.  It is a damned shame too because we need a toaster.  I am not good at broiling bread in the oven and she doesn’t cook.  We could use that toaster.

What a funny idea anyway.  I am on a mission to turn all of the blue eyed people into brown eyed people.  I hear there’s a free iron in it for me if I can.  I wish it were that easy — this turning people into something else business.  If it were possible, I would turn my husband into a homosexual and then he wouldn’t fight this divorce idea so much.  I would turn my sister into a lesbian just as a cruel joke — she loves men — her two previous and current husband will attest to that.  I would turn every evangelist and Bible thumping homophobe into lesbian or a homosexual just for kicks.

Mostly, I would do it so that they could know at least a little bit what it feels like — what I feel like every day.  They could know what it feels like to finally feel right in your own body, but suddenly thrust out of the “rightness” of the mainstream.  It is one thing to feel wrong in yourself but going with the flow along with everyone else.  They would know that enduring all of that wrongness inside isn’t worth fitting in on the outside.  When life is all wrong out in the world, you eventually get to return to the safety of your own home.  When life is all wrong on the inside, there is no escape.

When I first came out, I did it with a vengeance.  I told everyone.  I was so relieved.  I told strangers.  I would work it into a casual conversation.  For me it was a celebration.  I no longer felt like I was going to eventually die from all of the pain that I carried inside me.  I finally felt like I was going to live.  I had no idea how my life was changing.  I had no idea of the lives around me would erupt in turmoil just because I figured out the most central element to my being — my sexuality.

I have done a lot of shitty things in my life.  This is not one of them although you would think by the reaction of others that I was a serial killer or bank robber or dare I say worse.  I have always known that being different is no picnic, but I never really knew until I felt it in other people’s reactions.  I remember the first time I kissed my future wife in public.  We were walking on the boardwalk at the beach.  It was a Christmas lights festival and the whole town was out.  I was caught up in the excitement and kissed her right there in front of the bandstand.  In front of God, the townsfolk, the angel perched on the stable roof and everybody.  The angel did not fall off the roof.  My partner looked surprised (she has been out longer and endured much more prejudice than I have endured).  The old men on the boardwalk looked apoplectic, and suddenly I felt a little self conscious.  I hadn’t even thought about it when I kissed her.  It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.  I must say that there were a lot of people there and a lot of people didn’t even notice, but I became acutely aware of the ones who did.  I could almost feel the fire burning in their eyes as they glared at me — at us.

Standing near the bonfire made me think of toasters in a whole new way — especially when being burned at the stake vaguely crosses your mind as a possible ending to an otherwise pleasant evening.  Little did I know that a simple affectionate kiss between two women, no matter how innocent, can turn your whole life upside down.  I am slowly learning what a risk it can be to be a lesbian in a small southern city, but that’s another story for another time….  

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