5 Aug 2010

A Big Gay Memory of Paul

Hey, California finally got with it and realized it was unconstitutional (and therefore unAmerican!) for the people to vote on and lord over the rights of a specific minority group! Imagine that! Hopefully the rest of the country will follow suit, one judge at a time.

Those who know me know I love The Gays and spent many years as a professional hag working for Xtra, a gay and lesbian newspaper. In fact, I was at Xtra and was rooming with my very good friend, who happened to be a gay man, when I met and started dating my now-husband, Patrick.

Once things became more serious between Patrick and I, he told his family all about me, where I worked and my homo-loving ways. It was a non-issue, but Patrick wanted to make sure that his father, Paul, didn't say anything that could possibly offend his new love, Queen Fruit Fly. Now, Patrick's dad was not a homophobe. He really didn't care what people did with one another and when it came down to it, he was all for equal rights and freedoms. He did, however, love humour that wasn't always politically correct and enjoyed a little shock value in his jokes.

So, poor Paul was on very good behaviour the first few times I met him. Oh, how it must have pained him to not make a few quips when I explained how busy I was at work, what with the Dyke March to attend and the Rainbow Coalition meetings. How desperately he must have bit his lip when, as we all drove down Church Street together to grab lunch, we passed by a man wearing hot pants and a bib. And how his insides must have shredded with unsaid comments when I ran into someone with whom I was negotiating a sponsorship - and later had to explain to my husband's family that, no, that wasn't a guy I was talking with - that was actually a woman named Beth.

One day, Paul couldn't quite take it anymore. Pretending to ignore all of these euphoric sprays of gay gay gay all around him was taking a toll on his underused funny bone. But at the same time, he knew that Patrick would be mighty ticked if he said something that would make Patrick look like he was from a family of backward, slack-jawed hicks.

"What am I allowed to say?" Paul asked me one day. "I hear you say 'dyke' and 'queer' - but I'm guessing I can't say that."

"Well ... I'm usually referring to something specific, like the Dyke March, which is what it's called. Plus, it's really their term to use, not ours," I said.

"So, it wouldn't be wrong if I saw a guy on the street and said 'I bet that guy is gay?'" Paul said.

I suppressed a laugh. "Um, you could, but, I doubt people would appreciate someone pointing at them and saying 'there's a gay!'"

Paul frowned, likely envisioning years of putting up with his son's uppity, humourless girlfriend.

"How about this," I finally offered. "You can use what I'd use at Xtra - they're subscribers to our newspaper."

I'm pretty sure that's the moment I won him over. His eyes lit up and a big grin spread across his face. "Subscribers!" he said, enchanted with this new word. It was as if the gates of heaven had just parted before him and cherubs - carrying scrolls of potential gay jokes - were dancing before him on the clouds.

So, from that day on, the word "subscriber" was used to describe anything homosexual in nature. Not a get-together went by that I didn't hear Paul use that term with great delight. On one hand, he still got to make his jokes and point out the gay gay gay of life (usually at the expense of his sons. Paul was in his full subscriber glory the day Patrick wore a purple tie). On the other hand, Paul was actually, in an odd way that makes me smile, demonstrating his new sensitivity around the issue.

Yesterday, when California was progressing toward greater equality, we received the following in the mail. It made me think of Paul:

Just as Paul would have, I handed it to Patrick and told him it was addressed to him. We had a good laugh over it, just as Paul would have, too.


Lisa 4:42 pm, August 05, 2010  

You make me laugh and cry. Now I'LL never look at the word "subscriber" the same either!

Anonymous,  8:49 pm, August 05, 2010  

Love it!

Nick,  9:30 am, August 06, 2010  

While I'm not really into gay jokes, your FIL sounded like a good guy. :D

ben 7:47 am, January 29, 2019  

This article describes everything very well.
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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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