- Lack of Variety: The gay population is so small that I see the same guys over and over every time I go out. I am just as bored with continuously seeing them as they are with continuously seeing me.
- We have one gay bar: The slogan for my local gay bar feels less like “You want to go where everybody knows your name” and more like “You are stuck going where everybody already knows your personal business”.
- No Culture: There are hardly any cultural or artistic events anywhere near me (unless if I want to drive over an hour away). This is frustrating to me because art and the like interest me and it would be thrilling to meet a man who is drawn to similar occurrences. I long to stumble across a handsome boyfriend while at a museum, concert, outside festival, or social club.
- Gay-ville. Population of 1: In my every day, normal functioning I feel like a black sheep. The small sampling of people around me is predominately heterosexual. As a result, I end up feeling like I am the only gay person who exists for miles.
- The Constantly Visible Ex: Around here, after a breakup, if you still choose to go out on the town to the local gay ‘spot’, you get to see your ex-boyfriend over and over and over. As an added bonus, eventually you will get to see him with his new boyfriend. Ugh.
- These Straight People are Crowding Me: As I mentioned, most of the public places I would take any date to in this small town are filled with heterosexuals. Gay men, and thus physical affection between two men, are still foreign and make most of these people uncomfortable. This makes any attempt to be flirty and affectionate in public extremely difficult and awkward.
- No Gay Box Office: None of the local movie theaters host any gay themed films. Of course most gay films are independently made and have no major film production company as their distributer. These limited releases are usually restricted to large cities. So, the gayest film I can hope to see is the occasional shirtless Mark Wahlberg or Channing Tatum epic.
- Gay App Hell: Any attempt to use gay, cellphone apps to meet local men to date in a small town are almost completely pointless and torturous. Most of the small town guys are closeted and thus their profile photos are headless body shots and their descriptions are blank or only seeking NSA (No Strings Attached) fun. And humorously the closeted men are one of the better finds. The even more frustrating ones seem to be the bi-curious and experimenting (which means they have a girlfriend they aren’t telling you about and they just want to get off), the married guy only looking for a friend with benefits (FWB), and the 90-year-old man who simply asks you, “Want a BJ?”. Around here, most of the single, desirable, younger, gay men with fantastic jobs have moved to a bigger city in search of a more fulfilling day and night life. To make it more frustrating every time you sign on you are confronted with the same dead-end profiles day after day after day. (It case it is not blazingly obvious yet, repetition is one of the killers in small town life.)
- Boring Men Everywhere: I don’t fancy myself a wannabe resident of my small town until the day I die. One day I hope for more interesting surroundings. There is literally nothing to do here that interests me. So, if I finally met a local gay man, and he is happy living in this boring area and aspires to nothing more exciting than this place, then why in the hell would I want to date him in the first place? Even if I find a local man that I really like, I don’t want my relationship with him to trap me here.
- That Old Familiar Feeling: To be completely fair, there are many wonderful and positive factors to living in a small town. I speak from my own experience and, personally, I grew up feeling trapped in this small town. Now as an adult, I have temporarily moved back here while I get on my feet financially. And even though so much time has passed, the not so positive affect this place has on me unfortunately has not changed very much. I know they say it is the person, not the place, that is the problem. But isn’t it possible that, sometimes, the place is at least a little bit of the problem? Is this place too small for me to comfortably breathe in?
The brilliant writer and poet Oscar Wilde has been quoted saying the following about making assumptions.
“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.”
A few days ago, as I sat writing in my living room, my TV, which was playing in the background while I worked, caught my attention. A local news station was on and a male newscaster was interviewing a young boy who looked to be about 10 years old. The boy was being questioned about a large, local party he had recently attended. Most of the male newscaster’s questions were typical, boring fluff.
Yet, one particular question caught my ear. Referencing the large party, the newscaster asked the boy, “Did you meet any cute girls at the party?” I became immediately annoyed. Let me rephrase that, I was instantly offended and infuriated. To most heterosexual, Western Pennsylvanian viewers of this program I’m sure this question appeared to be a completely harmless and simple inquiry. But in rebuttal I wanted to scream, “Why don’t you ask him if he met any cute boys at the party?”
Simply put, society needs to stop assuming that everyone is straight.
Is it any wonder that LGBT individuals feel that they are different and that their feelings are abnormal from a very young age? Our society pushes an unrealistic, heterosexual ideal as the norm in almost every sentence out of its mouth.
Normal is for that little boy to be lusting after little girls. Normal is for little girls to make him blush. Normal is for little girls to make his stomach flip and his heart to beat faster. If he is not experiencing exactly these things, then guess what, he is different and strange and abnormal. Something is wrong with him.
There must be something wrong with him. With causal questions and assumptions, that lump him into this heterosexual bubble, being thrown around by everyone in his life from his teachers to his family members to the god damned newscasters on TV, there must be something atypical about him if his feelings don’t coincide with this accepted norm which seems to come so naturally to everyone else.
We cannot presume to know someone’s sexuality simply by looking at him or her. I look forward to the day where people who make such assumptions, who box us all into tight, little, unfair expectations, are the ones who are outside of the norm. I am not being overly dramatic in my opinion that the newscaster I mentioned was being rude and ignorant.
On the flip side of this issue, I have witnessed people who are doing their best to redefine what is normal in our society. A close, straight, female friend of mine, who has recently gotten married, has a one-year-old little boy named Henry. I always hear her affectionately gushing over him. She believes in never assuming who Henry will become. She constantly says to him,
“Mommy loves you, Henry. Mommy loves you so much. And Mommy doesn’t care who you love when you grow up. You can love a man, a woman or whomever and I will be very proud of you and love you just the same. And Mommy doesn’t care if you decide later that you should have been born a girl instead of a boy. I love you unconditionally no matter who life calls you to be.”
This is not an exaggeration. She literally says these things to him all the time. I listen to this friend’s utter lack of assumption and realize that the world is changing. I know that if Henry ever grows up to become a newscaster he would ask a little boy, “Did you meet anyone cute at the party?” A simple altering of a few words in a sentence and suddenly all of us are included in what is normal. And suddenly no one is making an ass out of you, me or themselves.