Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River: March 26, 2014

By Katie East

Call me sheltered, but I’m not used to seeing gay hatred or homophobia. This weekend though, I saw something even uglier than homophobia. I saw the indifference of “gay-friendly” people.

I’m not gay, but I’d say I’m gay by proxy. I’ve grown up with many gay friends and have never thought of being gay as different or weird. The gay lifestyle is something that never confused me; it always made sense.

Why are we still calling being gay an “alternative lifestyle?” I’m a college-educated un-married 29-year-old who quit my advertising career to talk about myself onstage to drunk people. I live an alternative lifestyle.

All gay people do is have slightly different sex. It’s not really an alternative; it’s more of a remix. People who have sex in fur suits or choke each other are the ones who live an alternative lifestyle.

One of the band members of Rae & The Line who played at Happy’s this weekend shouted out to the crowd: “Everybody get up and dance. None of that gay guy on guy shit though.”

One of my gay friends had been dancing in front of the stage along side my boyfriend and a couple other straight guy friends. Apparently, four men dancing in the same general vicinity of each other was just too blasphemous and disgusting for this gem of a man.

“Why are we still calling being gay an ‘alternative lifestyle?’ I’m a college-educated un-married 29-year-old who quit my advertising career to talk about myself onstage to drunk people. I live an alternative lifestyle.”

Immediately, my boyfriend and guy friends stated comically grinding on each to get a rise out of this gay-basher.

It worked. The man was livid and ended up having to be taken off the stage. Our mission then was clear: drive this man crazy with some good old-fashioned man on man dancing. You don’t fight hate with hate; you fight it with dance.

We needed more men. I went around the large crowd and tried to find any guys who would stand up and dance for what was right. The overall response was a resounding “Nah.” The indifference was palpable.

No one outwardly disagreed with our group. Each person I asked just said they couldn’t help. “Can’t or won’t?” I should have asked. Instead I moved on and asked the next progressive looking man I saw.

A duo of tattooed dudes came in, and I thought I had found my converts. After giving a quick explanation of the situation a guy with gauged ears looked interested. He gave a quick glance to his boy to his right. He looked uncomfortable to say the least.

“I appreciate what you’re doing but I can’t get up there right now,” he said as he laughed uncomfortably. I saw him glance to the side to check his friend’s reaction and seek his approval: pretty gay if you asked me.

“So, you can’t just do the right thing and dance up front?” I asked.

“Aw, don’t make it like that,” he said hoping to assuage some of his guilt.

“You made it like that,” I said while walking away.

I wasn’t asking people to pull a Rosa Parks. I didn’t ask them to make a stand (or sit) for what’s right. I didn’t ask them to hold up a sign or wear a shirt and support gay people. I literally just asked them to dance. It’s not that hard.

Overall, I was pretty unenthused with the lack of moral people in the crowd at Happy’s. Shout out to Joel the manager who kicked the musician off the stage. I went over to thank him later. He brushed it off and basically said he was just doing his job, which was true. One dumb musician just offended his paying customers for no reason, so he did what needed to be done. At least someone knew that doing the right thing wasn’t that hard.

Just because you’re straight doesn’t mean the treatment of gay people shouldn’t matter to you. Not that long ago black people were treated like second-class citizens and weren’t allowed to dance with whom they wanted too.

Unfortunately, until gay people have these unalienable rights we are all promised in this country we all need to show our support. You don’t have to picket Fred Phelp’s funeral. Sometimes, you just have to dance for what’s right.

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