I started off putting this in the comment section for "The Greasier my hair, the sexier I am" but it ended up being so long that I decided to give it a post of its own.
I'll copy the comment I am responding to so y'all know what I'm talking about.
OK, I read this last week and I've tried to make sense of it for the past few
days.No dice.There are two coffee shops near where I work. One (let's call it Shop A) I know for certain is gay-owned and the second (Shop B) is not. Now, if I followed your example, I would patronize the straight-owned shop regardless of all other factors. And if everyone in my town followed your example, the gay-owned shop would soon go out of business based on simple demographics alone. As it is, I happen to patronize Shop A for one reason - the coffee is better. Second, by patronizing gay-owned establishments above all others, you're tribalizing the gay community, which only serves to draw a dividing line between it and the community at large. Rather than integrating (and normalizing)yourselves into society, you're creating micro-cliques - that's the gay barbershop & that's the straight one, that's the gay restaurant and that's the straight one, that's the gay bar and that's the straight one. What better way to demonstrate to people the inherent value of gay relationships then to sit down at a restaurant (regardless of ownership orientation) and showing everyone how normal and healthy your relationship is? That's how you make homophobia go away - not by creating some GLBT utopia. Third, don't you think that you're validating the concerns of you family (see posts below) by going beyond
"normalizing" your relationship and instead giving it "most favored" status above all others?
My dearest Anonymous Coward:
Just because I didn't take time to list the "all other factors" doesn't mean they don't exist. The piece was meant to be funny rather than an exhaustive review of the merits of Cafe Med. Still, because for some strange reason I like you, I've decided to reply to your comment rather than just dismissing it as the flawed piece of supposition and conjecture that it is. So, here goes.
It is rare for an establishment that flies a rainbow flag to thrive in Utah. And they doesn't just fly a rainbow flag, they fly an entire medley of flags, of which the rainbow flag is but one. And still, it is the one that gets ripped down regularly. Still, they keep buying rainbow flags and putting one up every time the old one is stolen. If it were a Greek flag that was consistently being ripped down, they would get public sympahty and support in their battle against the ignorant racists of the world. They might even get some police attention for the consistent vandalization. But because it's a rainbow flag it becomes their problem, their stubbornness, their tribalism, their fault. Still, they refuse to hide the fact that they are gay, that that is one of their many affiliations, one part of the many pieces which make up their identities, even though such disguise is what Utah culture insists on. We want to support them in making themselves visible. If the soup I buy once or twice a month can help offset the cost of their replacing the flag, then I am thrilled to help with that.
I capitalized the word AMAZING when speaking of their food in my original post. That emphasis actually does them a disservice. I cannot speak too highly of the quality and deliciousness of their food. Kristin and I are community-minded, but not so much that we would patronize a place that had terrible food. In the days after 9/11 when a local Indian/Pakistani restaurant was bombed in our city, all our liberal friends flocked to patronize the place to show their support and their anti-racism, but Kristin and I did not. Not because we're racist, not because we supported the bombing, but because their food is bad. Cafe Med has great food and it's a pleasure to eat there.
Cafe Med is just over a mile from our home. Other than a local coffee/crepe shop, Dell Taco, and a Sconecutter, Cafe Med is the closest restaurant to our house. Not only are we patronizing a gay establishment, but a local one as well. We're keeping our tax dollars local and helping to keep a restaurant open in an area where restaurants tend not to do well. Plus, we can call in a take-out order and go pick it up in our PJ's and when we get home the food is still hot and we will have gotten compliments on our sleepwear.
We eat out A LOT. At least twice a week. We go to this restaurant once or twice a month. You do the math: how many restaurants do we support? I could have written this story about a Mariachi band (provided they had had a female member) at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Or I could have written a funny story about our adventures at our favorite Thai and Tibetan restaurants. Instead, this event happened to occur at Cafe Med and, for the sake of the story and to set the scene, I mentioned that it was a gay-owned restaraunt and that we enjoyed supporting it. I also mentioned the fact that the owner's mother knows us to let the reader know that this is the kind of restaurant that the OWNER'S MOTHER hangs out and chats with the patrons. How cool is that?
You're right that I am going beyond normalizing my relationship to giving it "most favored" status. I am giving it most favored status for me. It's quite common here for people to think that being gay is ok for "them". That it's normal "for them". But that "for you" it's a subpar choice. That "for you" it is giving up on finding that once in a lifetime love. To combat that, one needs to prove that not only is being gay normal for some hypothetical "they" but that it is the best relationship for you. That all things being equal, if you could change who you are, you would still choose that person. If doing that involves pushing the pendulum a little harder so that you can get it to center, then that is what I am going to do. What you're describing is a wonderful state that we are beginning to see -- a state where all sexual orientations can live in a spirit of peace and harmony-- but we're not there yet, especially here in Utah. In Utah what you describe is camoflage. It is invisibility. It is what allowed my grandparents and several aunts and uncles to think that Kristin and I were just "old maids" sharing living expenses while we look for Mr. Right. Even though she came to every family party. We blend, but we can't blend all the time yet. We still have to work at visibility and when you work at visibility, even in gentle ways, you attract a lot of negative attention. And the ways Kristin and I use are very gentle. I put my hand on her knee when we sit next to each other. We use joint checks. We give each other quick pecks (no lingering lips, no tongue, no passionate embraces) on the lips when we take our leave of each other in public. Actually, this is leading into my next point, so we'll pause this and move on.
Are you a member of a persecuted group? Do you know what it's like to get glares and comments when you reach across a table to hold your beloved's hand? To have waitpersons "be helpful" by automatically splitting your ticket cause you're "obviously" not going to be paying together? Have you ever been to a bar and then were afraid to walk to your car by yourself or with just one other person not because of some random stranger after drug money, but because of the belligerent man who was telling you about how someone should teach you a lesson? Are you told, repeatedly, that if people react in fear and censure and hate toward towards you it is your fault for being too open and "out there"? That this is a bad world, full of bad people, and so you should hide yourself accordingly. That the burdens of shame and change are yours and not your attacker's? For the most part Kristin and I work, live, play, and eat in the larger world. We insist on our existence and our dignity calmly, consistently, and (mostly) patiently. And we get tired of having constantly to do so. Going to a gay-owned and gay-operated establishment is a reprieve, a rest. A place where we can talk about how cute our baby is without answering questions about how we got her (note: we do not have a problem answering questions about Julia's conception, it's just it can be a little tiring to have to answer these questions from our server when all we want to do is order a meal. Still, whenever such questions are asked, we answer them completely and politely); where we can request a romantic nook and feed each other morsels off our plates and not wonder who's watching, who's going to complain, who's going to use this as an "example" of how gays are so "blatant" in public. We can be a normal couple in love whose act of loving is not seen as a political statement. Tell me that you would get the same amnesty from patronizing the straight-owned coffee shop and I'll tell you to go there as often as you can and enjoy the solace. However, if gays were no longer a persecuted group, if Kristin and I could be as nauseatingly twitterpated with each other in public as a heterosexual couple, Cafe Med would STILL be our favorite restaurant. Because of the food and because of the atmosphere. And because of the sarcophogus. (aside for Jen: Cafe Med is full of these weird decorative tidbits -- dragonfly lights that flap their wings, Green Men spitting water into basins, a columnar fountain, and a life-size sarcophagus. It's all part of the ambience. Eclectic, funky, fun)
To read a paragraph out of my life, one that I have crafted to be an entertainment (and a sarcastic, snarky kind of entertainment), and thus think you have figured out a source of major conflict in my life (that I am trying to create a Gay Utopia) when nothing else I have written has indicated that I would like to create such a separatist universe (though I do have plans to create a commune one day, I'll have you know that I will be inviting one straight couple to come live on it with us so long as they pledge allegiance to the rainbow flag and promise to raise all their children as little homosexuals and swear that they will never "rub their straightness in our faces") is pretty outrageous. If you were to take anything as a prescription for life from that particular post, you should have taken the advice not to shower. That's what I was really talking about. Grunge is sexy sexy. LEt me smell those pheramones, baby, they just might turn me straight.