Saturday, June 17, 2006


Yesterday AJ and I received the "oh look at them they are so cute" look that we often get. This was in the Hayes Valley. The lovely older white woman (and this is who usually gives us that look) saw us walking hand in hand, as she was walking down the street with her three year old child. AJ and I could hear her thoughts as she walked by "Look at the cute gay couple! I'm so glad I am living in San Francisco, in a liberal environment, raising my child. Despite the expensive rent and the cost of living here, I've made the right choice because there are cute gay couples that walk down the street hand in hand." Yes it's true. I got all that from the smile she gave AJ and I.

While waiting in line for the King Tut which we saw in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend (and which I still plan on posting about), we talked to a lovely older white woman who was also from the bay area. She seemed pleased to be talking to a gay coupleas well. This marked the second time that trip that a lovely older white woman had started to talking to us randomly. At the airport waiting for our delayed flight to Chicago, a lovely older white woman started to talking to us as well. She made sure to comment about how she had a gay son "Well, my son is at Stanford right now for graduate school. My gay son." It turns out that she actually was quite gay positive, and in fact at one point years ago was national president of PFLAG. I love PFLAG - I think every gay and lesbian with a family does. So I was quite tickled to be talking to someone who used to be the national president of the organization. I once made my parents join PFLAG, but they said it was too traumatic for them. Apparently every time they went to a meeting there was someone crying hysterically about their gay son or lesbian daughter. They stopped going after 2 meetings, but said they still donate money.

Bitsie (the former president of PFLAG) talked to us about our upcoming trip to Chicago, and talked about her stint as president. She asked if we were involved in any political gay and lesbian groups. I mentioned my job doing social marketing for gay health related issues, while AJ was head of the Gay / Straight alliance at his college, and was doing the AIDS ride. She seemed pleased that not only were we a cute gay couple but that we were "giving back to our community."

Regardless, somehow AJ and I are always pegged as the "token friendly cute gay couple" easy to approach and easy to talk to. On the streets of SF, tourists (usually straight) are constantly asking us directions, or our opinion of what they should do, or where they should go. I guess they feel that they need the whole "San Francisco" experience, and part of that is talking to a cute gay couple. One time in the mission (not far from where we live, and not far from the Castro - gay central) a random woman accosted us and told us that she thought were "so courageous" referring to the fact that we were holding hands. Huh. This is San Francisco - not the south or the midwest. Gay couples walk hand in hand all over the place. But we thanked her, and walked away puzzled as to why we were being so courageous.

But I guess I stometimes forget, living here in SF, that being as out as we are isn't the norm in most of the country. AJ moved here to SF shortly after he came out. For him, he's never lived as an out gay man in a city where being gay was a bad thing. Though we walk down the street hand in hand without thinking about it here in SF, whenever we go back to our respective hometowns of St. Louis and Indianapolis, he automatically goes to take my hand, and I automatically go into gay stealth mode (not that I was ever good at that) and drop his hand. And though I am sure things have changed since I moved away from St. Louis eight years ago, I still don't feel comfortable walking hand in hand in places outside of San Francisco.

And for me that's a little sad. I'm getting over that fear, as I see things changing slowly - glacially in places, but changing nonetheless - outside of metropolitan cities. But it does make me realize how important things like Pride are. Not necessarily for people living in San Francisco - certainly not for me, but for all the tourists, and all the people who don't have the same sort of blasé attitude that I have here in San Francisco about being part of cute gay couple. And for that I am thankful.

Perhaps this summer when I go back to the midwest for our upcoming "Midwest Tour 2006" I'll be the one grabbing AJ's hand and walking down the street without a second thought. Perhaps we'll get that "look at the cute gay couple" look in St. Louis or Indianapolis. And perhaps we'll get a random lovely older white woman who will come up to us and tell us that she thinks we're courageous. And we'll just look at her, smile politely and walk away puzzled. After all, being the cute gay couple is what we've become. And I'm finally comfortable with that role.


At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Rita said...


Your St. Louis "gay stealth mode" reminds me of my parents' reaction (fear) when I wanted to take my live-in boyfriend to Taiwan (even though they loved him) . . . because for them Taiwan was still trapped 20 years in the past, which is when they moved away.

I can't wait to go on the Midwest Tour with you! I want to check you out in your native habitat. If you and AJ are an oddity there, I'm going to take your picture. :D


(With you, too, like you guys are a cute gay Mickey Mouse. I'll start a queue.)

At 5:12 PM, Blogger jackhonky said...

By the way (BTW) it happened again yesterday. Two lesbians (who AJ and I deduced were in town for Pride) accosted us as we were coming back home together, and asked us where they should go to eat. We said they were four blocks from the Mission, and four blocks from the Castro. They opted for the Castro and so we pointed them in the direction of Castro, Market and 17th. We told them there was a myriad of restaurants over there.

This all occurried right in front of our apartment. We cannot escape!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Billy Farquhar said...

The holding hands in public (in not-so-gay places) thing is a tricky thing to figure out. While it's good to want to be honest and open about a relationship, it's also good to be safe. I agree that you guys are a very cute gay couple! I also love that PFLAG mom's name is Bitsie!

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh. It's, "from the smile she gave AJ and [me]." I don't have a problem with bad grammar. I do have a problem with pretentious people with bad grammar. Fix it!


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