Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I got a new haircut finally.

I had been planning to get one in Japan in February, so I kept putting it off. Once in Japan, I was so insanely busy, I never got a chance to get my hair clipped and the accompanying head massage. (In Japan, most of the barbers are also trained in head/neck massage, so when you go in for your cut, they give you the whole works.)

With student teaching, I continued to put it off once I returned Stateside, but finally I became concerned that my students might lose me in my tangled mass of hair. So on Saturday, I walked down Grace and dropped in at a salon on Broadway. They were closing, but they waved me in.

The older woman who cut my hair spoke with a strong accent. I'm not sure exactly what other language was being spoken, but she told me about the history of the shop, which used to be Japanese-American owned and operated, while she hacked away at my hair with a straight razor.

It was a tiny bit scary. She gave me no particular cause for concern, except of course the wildly swinging the (literally) razor-sharp blade around my head at a frantic pace part of the activity.

Twenty minutes later, I strutted out of the shop, utterly in one piece, looking mighty fine.

It was fucking freezing all of a sudden. I kind of missed the several inches of fur protecting my little pointy ears.

I was supposed to meet Liz downtown, since she was working at the hospital, so went up to Addison and headed up towards the Addison Red Line station. Since the Cubs had just completed another successful loss, the normal ballpark crowd was spilling out into the neighborhood.

A group of 30-something ugly white boys decked to the gills in booze and Cubbie paraphenelia was coming toward me on the other side of the street. They projected that "I'm still insecure about my sexuality, so I make up for it by getting wasted at baseball games and my entire self image is based on whether my team wins or loses and I'm stupid enough to pick a team that loses the majority of the time throughout history" aura, so I braced myself.

As they come down Addison, I can hear them shouting, "This is a GAY neighborhood! Where are the GAY guys. I bet we see GAY guys."

Suddenly, one of them pointed directly at me and said, "Look! There's a gay guy! He's gay!"

I tried to think of the most constructive way to respond when the cosmic battle within his body between the walking skill he had developed since at least age five or so and his blood alcohol level which he had been developing since about 10am that morning or so ended with a resounding booze victory. His hand barely shot out in time to stop his face from disintigrating on the pavement, but I was able to get out a "Learn to walk asshole!" He just looked confused and stammered, "What? What happened?" several times.

I felt great about the outcome, but I was a little troubled about why I had wanted to lash out at the guy. Was it because I was upset to be accused of being "gay"? I didn't think so--it's a confusion that tend to follow me around due to stereotypes connecting my body type, mannerisms, styles of dress and interactions with people with what people conceive as "gayness". But why was I angry at the guy?

I was thinking about it when I got off at Clark and Division. There was an old guy waiting at the top of the stairs at the Subway entrance/exit. He turned to me and said, "You are a very attractive man!" I smiled and said, "Thanks!" and went to meet Liz.

I thought of the Details scandal where Whitney McNally penned an article titled "Gay or Asian" in which as "humor" she connected stereotypes of Asian American men with stereotypes of Gay men. The reaction from both the Asian American and GLBT communities was strong, but especially from the Asian American crowd. Many conservatives attacked the Asian American community for being "homophobic" because "you shouldn't be mad if you don't think gayness is bad". Basically, we were being told we have to choose: Either hate people on the basis of their sexual orientation or shut up.

I knew that was bullshit, but it wasn't until my haircut day that it crystalized in my head. It's not the fact that being misidentified as "gay" that was the problem--it was the intentional lack of respect inherent in the communication. To be misidentified was not a big deal. But to be misidentified in a way that demonstrated a hatred directed both at me and at people in general based on their sexual orientation was deeply troubling.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

seems too many people ALWAYS gotta find somebody to hate who the cause of they and all the world's problems and any excuse will serve.

who wants to be pointed out as the shining example of The Reason The World Sucks accorgint to some asshole?

i would have been mad too.

baseball chick

11:11 AM  
Blogger xian said...

Yeah. I think that's what it comes down to--It's not that being called "gay" is a slur because it's negative to be gay. It's that the speaker was using it as a way to aggressively attack.

Thanks for reading.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Mel Allen said...

I feel your pain.

11:49 PM  
Blogger xian said...

Mel Allen said...

I feel your pain.

Don't we all miss anonymous posting on BTF. What comedy :D!

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Mohamed Charron said...

This is very informative. I hope to see more in the near future

8:52 AM  

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