Straight Pride Day.
It has a certain ring to it.
After all the excitement in LA last weekend (yeah, thanks for those Village People hits blaring outside my window at dawn, folks), I realised that nearly everyone in the world is gay, and I am now a minority.
As a minority, I must surely be entitled to my own special day, but perhaps I should narrow my status down a little. Straight, female, single, short, menopausal – but then I don’t think that Straight, Single, Female, Short, Menopausal Pride Day has any ring to it whatsoever; in fact, I think I might be the only member.
But the truth is, I really feel I am one of a very small number now. Don’t get me wrong. Easily 50% of my friends are gay, male and female; I think it is joyous that we live in a society that celebrates sexual preference and which joins together against rich hotel owners who advocate stoning of gays (no, I won’t be going to the Dorchester or Beverly Hills Hotel again, either); I believe in equality, irrespective of gender, or who one wishes to sleep with. But being straight isn’t as easy as it once was.
Maybe I’ve brought it on myself. When I am in LA, I reside in West Hollywood; when in New York City, Hell’s Kitchen – both gay epicentres of their respective cities. My gay friends from the UK visit both often and, when I am in town, I go out and have a blast with them.
They all enjoy a very wide social circle and always have somewhere to go, people to see, dogs to babysit etc. I never get invited anywhere. My friends who are in couples, straight and gay, invite only other couples around for dinner; my single gay friends are always out partying; my single straight friends are too depressed or too poor to go anywhere and prefer to stay indoors with their box set of Mad Men, enjoying a night of binge viewing.
So, most of my life is spent among gay strangers. But here’s one of the things I’ve noticed – and I know I risk the wrath of the gay gods when I say this: LA gays are so much more backbiting and bitchy than New York gays.
I am not going to try to analyse why that might be, other than to say that a village mentality (and LA is far more a village than NYC) tends to harbour prejudices and insecurities, which generally bring out the worst in people, more than large cities do.
It’s not something that I notice in other aspects of LA life. For the most part, people are merely desperate to make it big, and they do not have the time or energy to waste bitching about others; self-promotion is all. But when it comes to the gay life I have witnessed in LA, it is much more akin to the rather infantile nastiness I saw in the UK long before it was cool to be gay.
In New York, it just doesn’t seem to be a big deal. If the gay guys there are ogling fresh meat walking on the sidewalk, they are not so rude as to comment on it when they are talking to me (don’t even get me started on the level at which Miami gays do this); I am regularly invited to join groups of gay guys I have never met before for drinks or dinner – which has never happened once during five years of living in LA. Even my gay realtor invited me to his barbecue.
There is a general tendency in society at large to regard any older woman as being on the scrapheap, yet I am invariably the last person to leave any bar or event in any establishment. It’s not that I like to keep drinking (I can do that at home if I want to), but I love company and have what has recently been labelled FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I’ve always been the same. Even as a baby, my parents couldn’t get me to close my eyes at bedtime “Don’t she stare?” said my grandmother, during one spectacularly inquisitive moment.
I do stare. I listen. I love observing people of all cultures, shapes and sizes, and hearing the stories that got them to where they are. Stories of joy, pain, loss, love, hope – the humanity that walks our streets every day.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if those people are gay or straight, but please, just for one day, let me celebrate Straight Single Female Short Menopausal Pride Day.
And it’s today.
I’m feeling lucky.