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Pause for Change

Friday, we rode up into the North Georgia mountains. It was a perfect day with cool temps, clear skies and no plans other than to spend the day together, listen to some music, look at the changing leaves and maybe visit an old friend along the way.

We had a lovely ride up and met our friend who has lived in the mountains his whole life. He knows every road and “pig trail,” as he calls the barely passable ruts of road that only those with nerves of steel and vehicles with raised bottoms and four-wheel drive would dare to tread.

We climbed into his truck and headed into the hills, climbing higher and higher. At first, the advance in height could barely be felt as the twists and turns seemed to be going nowhere fast. Before long though, we could glance out the window and see nothing but free space between the side of the truck and the land far below. The leaves at first were colorful, then disappeared as they had long since fallen as we climbed towards the heavens.

He told us the land belonged to the forest service and few other cars or trucks were seen, each one requiring a friendly sharing of the narrow road or even backing up precariously to allow the other passage. Occasionally, we stopped and got out, taking pictures that defied the sheer beauty and grandness of a place so close and yet so far from our daily living.Our friend took pictures of Lee and I, something we have little of. He whispered to me how much he liked my Lee and how happy I seemed to him.

Finally, we started down the mountain, stopping only once to admire a small lake with one lone canoe carrying two fishermen in the middle of it. I imagined what it must have been like to travel that trail in a wagon or to have to spend a night stranded on that lonely narrow hint of a road. Our friend said he knew the road had been there in the 1800’s. His grandfather had traveled it often in a wagon, bringing down logs for firewood.

We arrived back in the small town that brings three states together. The powers that be in that little town had declared Friday night the night to Trick or Treat, so as not to interfere with the Saturday night events planned by the neighboring Georgia town eleven miles away. Neither town would ever allow trick or treating on Sunday, October 31st or not. Traffic was backed up with each car full of children in costume, hanging out rolled down windows and shouting greetings at each other.

We settled on a place to eat,  a combination American and Chinese buffet. The decor was a combination massive log lodge meets Chinese red dragon. The fare at the buffet was equally blended with the sesame pork side by side with mashed potatoes and fried chicken.  Towards the end of our meal, three teenagers came in, all dressed as women out of a Shakespearean play. One of them had a well-trimmed beard. Only one of the three looked to be in a female body.

I have to back track here a little before I continue. Our friend has been my friend for almost thirty years. We see each other a couple of times a year. His friendship with Lee is no doubt not only his only friendship with a trans-anyone, but his only friendship with anyone who identifies as LGBT. In fact, Lee is probably the only one he knows who is L or G or B or T or any combination thereof. He has only been around us together a handful of times. He is from this little pocket of the world where the population is almost entirely white, Baptist and perhaps close to a century behind the rest of the world. I don’t say that to criticize them, only to describe the place and the people who live there.

Back to the story and the three young people who came in. Our friend called over the manager of the restaurant, who he obviously knew and laughed with often. He told him he should guard the bathroom door because there was a crossdresser there. The manager looked confused. Our friend pointed behind him at the table of teenagers.  The manager walked away, nodding and laughing.

Later, the young man with the beard walked by. Our friend stopped him and told him someone wanted to meet him. He them called over the manager and the three all introduced themselves to each other.

Our friends and the manager seemed to have e great time during their little encounter and while they had not been vicious or attacking, their intent was clearly to make fun of the boy in the dress. I’m guessing they were all three dressed for a Halloween party. One would have to be incredibly brave to dress that way in that place for any other reason. I’m sure that most have moved away, leaving only the most fearful still hiding in their closets.

When we got out of our friend’s truck  to go home, he said to me, “I’m so sorry about what I said about that boy back there. I’ just wasn’t thinking. I hope I didn’t offend Lisa.” I just looked him in the eye and told him not to worry about it.

Perhaps the brave thing would have been to make some sort of scene or at least give my friend a good talking to. Instead, the right thing to do seemed simply to be grateful to be going home; grateful to live where we do; where at least those words and thoughts and jokes are done quietly beyond our ability to hear or see.The bigots are the ones in the closet where we live most of the time.

I also know my friends is kind. He is gentle and loving. He is also ignorant and foolish and at times acts without thought.

I am, too.

I do, too.

Ignorance does not excuse anything though.

One of the amazing things about my friend from the mountains, is how he never met a stranger. He is friends with everyone. He would help anyone. Everyone knows him and though he doesn’t hold any political office or own half the town, he is influential in that he is such a well-known and respected man. He is known for his strength as well as his kindness. Today, he is more aware. Today his ignorance of a world that has passed him and his community by is lessened. He gave us and our relationship a chance. We gave him pause. I’m glad he is still my friend.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

   

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