I feel the need to explain myself, if not to inform the general public, at least to live with the knowledge I got this off my chest and, as would be with a primal scream, a cathartic effect.
There is a gentleman, a term I choose for its modicum of neutrality, who is approaching middle age and who grew up with many people I have come to know since I moved to where I now live, and whom I would consider to be friends.
He is considered by these people to be a friend of theirs and they of him, and, so, in spite of my opinion, I have to accept that he will remain their friend and my opinion is my own and is most likely not a reason to disrupt that.
However, having said that, my opinion is this.
He came of age in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was in its infancy, when conservative politicians were reluctant to act, when funding was slow in coming, when AIDS was considered a punishment from God, when Gay people were not worthy of help, and when my new friends, just like my previous friends, lost friends and loved ones in sadly large and unnecessary numbers.
When you are in any Gay bar, turn to the empty stool near you and understand that someone should be sitting there.
During this time and the subsequent years of ending discrimination in housing, employment, military service, and medical care, of ending bullying and harassment in Massachusetts state schools, and the years leading up to marriage equality that ended the disrespect and dismissal of the long term, committed relationships of a large number of GLBT people, this individual supported and voted for those politicians, both local and national, who fought against this progress and in so doing aided those denying his friends their rights, and who had no problem with letting us die and even justifying that, while preventing his friends from attaining equal, not second class, citizenship.
He has continued in this support, and during the time leading up to the 2016 elections often explained to young GLBT people within ear shot of me why it was in their best interest to vote Republican as the presidential candidate was the best friend of the GLBT Community, a claim that had little support from observed past practice, and later scoffing at any resulting executive orders that have ended certain rights, claiming that is not that serious a thing, and dismissing any perceived threats to continue this removal of rights as merely unsupported and laughable speculation.
This to me is a betrayal of the friendships he claims, and a denial of any responsibility for having supported those who chose and worked to oppress those he considered friends, and will most likely continue to do so.
When he enters the city’s only Gay bar, hugging and glad handing the people there and approaching anyone much younger than he, people who in effect he has betrayed in the past and continues to in the present with his support of anti-GLBT politicians and so the policies they promote and the disinformation they spread to justify it, while attempting to influence the younger patrons to also support those who may very well attempt to, and possibly could succeed in erasing rights they take for granted because the battles that won them are as much in the past as those who fought them, my mood is affected, and not in a positive way.
I have known and worked with people who had fought those battles while this person had been content to be a bar hopping bar fly, glad to benefit from the successes of the hard fought battles and moving calmly into the better society created by those he betrayed and obstructed by his support of those they fought, like the person who walks behind the one shoveling the snow off a sidewalk.
I cannot befriend him, and although I know the others have known him most of their lives and he has not done anything overt that prolonged their oppression, I feel bad for those who have not forced him to see how he has not been the true friend he and they assume he has been because he certainly, whether conscious enough about it to realize or too indifferent to bother to see it, he has been stabbing close friends and the community in whose bars he feels so welcome in the back.
So if anyone has wondered, or will, why, when he comes in, I might move to a distant stool, or finish a drink and not order another as I put on my coat, make sure I leave a tip, and then walk out, it is because I am old enough to choose my friends and those with whom I socialize carefully, and I choose not to deal with a person who so cavalierly hurts my friends.
And if you never see me do that, just know that I do.