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August 18, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 33
 
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Sunday, Jul 15, 2018

 

 



 
Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
Diva-phobia
"I don't know what it is," the stranger yelled across the coffee shop, "but people always notice me when I walk into a room." Joining a few others looking up from our lattes and mochas, I glanced curiously as he plopped dramatically down into his seat. "Oh, I'm used to it now, though," he told his quiet friend.

As I fell back into Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael," pondering the nature of man to rule the world created for him, I found myself constantly pulled back by the unceasing shouting of the stranger, who all of Bauhaus coffee shop now knew was called Ken.

"I told her she couldn't buy one if she wanted to, that bitch," Ken shouted colorfully, bringing to life the full elasticity of his features. His carefully formed eyebrows - clearly remnant of what they was were - arched high above his vivid expressions, creating a total effect difficult to look away from in the same way that a hot air balloon, a car accident, or a man in a tutu riding a pink bike with a green wig might be difficult to look away from.

"I told that bitch that was money she should use to take care of the hair on her face first," Ken yelled, arches now bobbing up and down wildly and accompanied by his own thick cackles of laughter. His tone bit into my bone and sent chills racing up my side. My ears turned red. I was conflicted. I might regret saying so, but I came back to my old discomfort: my diva-phobia.

For as long as I have been a Gay man, I've avoided the more diva-like among us. Knowing that I came from Texas and they sparked the Stonewall revolution, I've given them wide berth, preferring the company of more gentlemanly men. Internalized homophobia? Cultural differences? There are many reasons I can guess at, but my diva-phobia has always been there.

It didn't help when I was eighteen years old and the first Gay person I saw the first Gay bar I ever walked into was a six and a half foot tall drag queen with pink hair. She groped me, tried twice to put her hands into my pants, and then threw in a couple of drunken insults before finally checking my ID and letting me in the door. It was the beginning of a series of unfortunate situations over the years that now has me turning and leaving whenever I hear the "diva tone," lest I should end up the butt of someone's insult or covered in glitter from an uninvited grope. Irrational fear? Sure, but fear all the same.

I realized when I came out that the Gay community would be full of all types of people. Catty, bitchy. loud diva guys aren't new and they aren't going away. They sparked the whole Stonewall revolution and the argument can easily be made that I came into their community and not the other way around. Still, I've never been comfortable around bitchy, catty diva Gays and I'm not sure I ever will be. I am a diva-phobic Gay man, and Ken simply reminded me how much I have to work on learning to accept everyone a little better. Homophobia, however it comes across, is still homophobia and a lot of us Gay folk will probably spend as much time dealing with our own homophobia as we do with other folks'.

Forcing myself to do a little self work, I ordered another latte and resolved to sit there, instead of moving outside like I wanted to do. Maybe I wasn't trying to get over my diva-phobia entirely, but just trying to force myself to get used to it a little more.

Just as I leaned comfortably back into my story, floating along on a bit of dialogue talking about man's supposed role in the universe, I was pulled straight up into my seat by Ken's sharp cackle, apparently in response to a joke he just told about his shoes, then again about a girl on the street, then again about her shoes, then again, and again, and again.

It was their community first, I reminded myself patiently. I'm just joining it.



Beau Burriola is a local writer learning to leave the Texas in Texas. E-mail him at beaubrent@gmail.com
visit Beau at www.beaubrent.com

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