image002.pngEating peanut butter always reminds me of the night a gay man tried to seduce me
the irony is I never ate peanut butter until I became American
nor did I have any gay male friends
they thought me too girly with my waist-length hair, frilly frocks and high socks
an object easier for ridicule, there are status levels of coolness I didn’t care about
because I didn’t fit in with their ideas just as they were not
societies chosen children
it seemed a shame two outcasts wouldn’t bridge the gap
but Rick did, he was he said, a Bear in the gay world
what does that mean? I wanted to know
it’s a kind of look he said
there are others, like geek, school boy, father
why must you have labels when society already forces them?
maybe that’s why we do, he said and looked sad
which was an unusual thing because he laughed all the time
you know what they say about comedians and how
they make others laugh because inside they hurt
and he was left handed-too like me
maybe he did resemble a bear
so when I sat on his lap in the bar and he whispered
the feel of you is driving me crazy
I gave him a double-look
those words can’t be coming from you
I thought I was safe on a queer man’s knee
you’re not safe on any man’s knee in this country he said
we’re no longer in France and it’s not du rigor
all men want sex, gay men may be gay but they still
sometimes take to bed the occasional woman
I hadn’t known that
the lesbian world was more rigid with thick rule books
and tightly closed legs
it was hard enough to sleep with another woman
lesbian-bed-death and all
but men? A few who couldn’t get pregnant with turkey-basters
fell in love with their male donors
but only on a full moon
and whilst I made no habit of sitting on men’s knees usually
the bar was heaving with sweating twenty year olds
and he was gay and I was gay and everyone should be gay and do a little dance
except I was sad and lonely and Rick complained that
men down the leather bar thought 30 was old so he feared
the day when he would be irrelevant and nobody would desire
his gentle paunch and diminishing hairline
I told him that day will never come you matter to me
and we both saw how we filled each others needs
better than someone of the same-sex ever could
which seemed a painful irony
I might have drunkenly slept with him if I didn’t
already know he’d been promiscuous
and I am a responsible child of the AIDS era and
not fond of navigating awkward mornings
he might have slept with me the way a lonely boy
finds a hole in any surface
to release the places he keeps hidden
then we wouldn’t have been friends
and that would have been the last time
I’d sat on a boys knee, queer or straight
so I wouldn’t have seen you on stage performing or
your ex girlfriend staring at you with open-mouth desire
when she was supposed to be courting me
that night I learned a little about people
I would have understood less from the back of the room
forgetting the advantages of the heterosexual girl
smoking a black cigarette and knocking back my gloom
for minority status isn’t all about being different
it can be the loneliest place in the world
and even dyed in the wool queers
have fantasies about knights, princes and castles
when the room is dark and oily
and anything seems possible