Friday, April 9, 2010


My friend Ray and I lived in Gallipolis, Ohio (queer population: 5) so the nearest gay bar was 50 miles in either direction.

One of these directions was my hometown. I had ongoing, vivid premonitions of my parents driving by at the precise moment we entered a certain establishment along with a man clad entirely in leather and another dressed as Little Debbie. So I tended to make sure we went the opposite route and drove to Charelston, West Virginia: world-reknown as the hotbed of man-on-man action.

I joke, but compared to Gallipolis, it was. The idea that there were ATTRACTIVE guys into other guys made it seem like we were visiting Neptune. The Charleston bar was called The Grand Palace. It was, as you might expect, fraught with hillbilly queens, but there were other sights to behold such as average, corn-fed boys who clearly worked out. Ray and I had our stereotypes dismantled. This was a good thing and long overdue.

Because I had grown up in a crazy Christian school world that made Footloose seem a documentary, I couldn't dance worth a crap. Cute guys would ask me to dance, I'd go out on the lighted, disco floor (again, this was in West Virginia where everything is about eight years behind everyone else) and pretty much look like I was undergoing electroshock therapy.

Before the song was over they would thank me for the "dance" and move on to someone else. I dealt with this by having another Canadian Mist and Coke. Another dance, another jettisoned prospect, another cocktail. Rinse and repeat.

Time to go and I was rocked off my ass. I was a small-town boy in embarassingly non-hip clothing, faking my sophistication by ordering drinks I was in no way prepared to handle. I just ordered what I heard other people requesting, never mind the fact that I'd never taken a drink in my life. "You should probably call it quits," said Ray.

"And you should probably sheep sheep sheep a moo-moo!" I said, to my mind ending the argument.

"Okay, at least you should switch to beer..."

"Okay, at least you should switch to queer!" The fact that Ray was already gay did not enter my logic, as a well-placed rhyme, worthy of Dr. Seuss, made me the clear intellectual winner.

Closing time. The lights went up and everyone got a whole lot uglier.

"Get me out of here," I said. "The fuckers have taken off their rubber masks and I for one am not fooled."

"Yeah, we're going," said Ray.

I stood up, staggered, and Ray put his arm around my shouders to steady me. "Don't you touch me!" I yelled. "I'm tired of your always coming on to me!" I took another step, unassisted, and dropped to the floor.

"Help!" I said, extending a hand.

He hauled me to my feet and led me to his car, the Raymobile.

While the bulk of what is about to happen is mostly my fault, I do think the Raymobile was a contributing factor. Ray lived in the same, teency, judgemental, shithole midwestern town as I and had to be familiar with the way its residents related to anything unusual or different. Shit, buying canned La Choy Chow Mein labeled you a suspect with possible anti-American sensibilities. But Ray's vehicle was a compact car that had been tricked out with a custom paint job so that, across it's baby blue exterior, a wide, hot pink stripe extended from the back of the trunk, across the roof, and over the hood to meet the grille. If a car was capable of bursting into a chorus of I Am What I Am, the Raymobile was it.

We pulled out of the parking lot and immediately stopped at a red light. A convertible of hot college boys pulled up beside us.

"Hi," they yelled in unison.

"Well Hiiiiiii...." I purred back, like I was Cat Woman.

Anyone else would have seen this as a carload of frat boys looking to cause trouble. I, in one of my first brushes with alcohol, saw it as my goddamned due that had finally come around.

"Did you guys just come from The Grand Palace?" one of them yelled.

"Oh shit," whispered Ray, getting the picture.

"Yeah!" I yelled, "But I didn't see you!"

"There's a reason!" Ray hissed.

"But the night is young and I wanna make up for lost time!"

The stop light had yet to change and the frat boys leapt out of their car, brandishing their tools of destruction. This could easily have ended in death or dismemberment, like it has for so many others, but for whatever reason, Ray and I were gay-bashed by the stupidest homophobes to ever concoct a hate crime. Of all things, they had wiffle ball bats. The hollow, plastic weapons rained down upon the Raymobile with muted, thumping sounds. He and I looked at one another with total confusion.

"So I'm not gonna get laid?" I asked.


"And instead they want to hurt us?"

"It would seem so."

"And they're hitting your car with harmless plastic things to teach us a lesson?"

"Yes. Thank you so much."

The light changed and Ray gunned the Raymobile, trying to get away. The futility of wiffle ball bats as a means of teaching queers a motherfucking lesson sank in, and the carload of drunken Evangelicals trying to right God's plan for the sancity of marriage chased us, breaking the speed laws as they were answering to a higher calling.

Ray was not familiar with the area and shot the wrong way down a one-way street. Our pursuers did the same. Oncoming traffic blared their horns and skidded out of the way, unaware a battle for morality was going down.

Ray stomped the pedal and got us going the right way. But we hit an intersection where we had to stop at a light. The frat boys pulled up alongside. One hopped out and used his foot to kick out the driver's side window, glass raining down on both
of us. Not so funny any more. He swung his fist and decked Ray in the jaw, certainly a justifiable punishment for wanting to look at guys who like guys. Ray stomped the engine and drove off into the night, hitting the highway.

Being local boys, they knew a shortcut, and when the Raymobile drove over an underpass it was pelted with many falling wiffle ball bats.

I guess they showed us.

Ray and I both are married to God-fearing, Christian wives, raising a litter of children and support the war in Iraq. I'm so glad those boys beat the sense into us. God bless all of you who think the same way.

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