Early last summer there was a Times piece about relationships between gay and straight men. Shortly after it ran, I was visiting college friends who commented about the number of gay friends I knew from school. It was late and as I stood up to leave I said, "Hey, don't knock my gay friends. It's the only time I get to play hard to get."
Back in the mid 80's, I'd complain to my girlfriend that the walk from my place to hers was impossible without getting hit on by gay men with little moustaches and tight fitting Izods. She made the observation that my tight fitting jeans, Timberland work boots, leather flight jacket and little moustache might have something to do with it. She was so observant I married her.
15 years later I was divorced and bidding on a piece of Georg Jensen silver when the auctioneer told me, "Sir, you're bidding against yourself." An expensive strategy but it was for the Golf Foxtrot and I had to have it. I ambled out of the auction house, Jensen pin in hand and walked east to Washington Square. It was a crisp autumn afternoon and I saw a sign for brunch outside an 18th century tavern.
The owner was an insane red head in her late 50's and she made the best bolognese. We talked and laughed and I showed her the pin while she poured my third glass of Umbrian red. She said she knew an antique's expert and if he came in she would point me out to him. She pointed and he knew a lot about silver. Enough to tell me I over paid. We talked about antiques and early 19th century portraits and he said, "Street's a hugely underrated artist. You have very good taste ... not that I'm flirting with you - - Well, maybe a little."
I turned to look at myself in the mirror behind the bar and thought, "Huh?" And it hit me. Staring straight ahead at the mirror I said, "You know, I'm sorry but I don't think I'm your type." He immediately called for his bill, signed it and left. I couldn't help but think, "Isn't that just like a man? Once he's figured out he's not getting in your pants, he's history."
When my father returned from Vietnam he was assigned to a National Guard unit in North Carolina and I had a friend who was black. Paul was not my first black friend but he was my first friend who was...lets call him effeminate. Odd because we were only 12. My parents taught me it was wrong to call people names based on ethnicity or religion but my father taught me you could be an asshole regardless of ethnicity or religion. He once said about an officer who had rumors following him --"I don't care if the man fucked Coke machines. He excelled at what he did on the battle field."
Paul was a good friend in a place that must have been a battle field for him. George Wallace stickers were as common as "We Reserve the Right to Serve" signs. Being black was tough enough. As an Army brat, I didn't have time to pick friends by their religion, sexual preference or politics. Consequently, some of my friends today are black gay Jewish Republicans and I wouldn't change a thing about them - - except that political party.