STRAIGHT...in a gay world My first experience with the gay subculture came about because I love steam baths. The bathhouses of San Francisco in the 1960s were major gathering places for male homosexuals. I came to know their world but never really joined it. My first awareness of gay men as something besides snickeringly referred to "queers" came when my mother went into the florist business. Floral design was an occupation associated with the "pink underworld." My peers had hostile attitudes towards these men and towards homosexuality, although I know that most of us had experienced sex with each other in some form before we even reached high school. Statistics in these matters are so skewed by society's prejudice that even today I feel that there are very few males who have not experienced some form of homosexual contact. My relationship with Lesbians is even closer as some of my daughters live the life. I never had any trouble with that since I can't understand why anyone would prefer males as sexual partners. As I write this the popular media and some genetic research is in heated debate with self-styled moralists over whether homosexuals are born that way or make a choice, often steered by proselytizing gay or bisexual men. In the first place homosexuality is largely a verbal figment and the gay lifestyle is probably a separate issue from sexual preference. The shadings of these behaviors is far too complex to be capsulized in a word so cross-dressers, transsexuals, and homophobes are but signified (and in some cases stigmatized) humans. I have little to say about being gay, but some observations about the absurdity of the straight world's reactions to people who live another way. I don't know if most or all of the people who prefer sexual partners of their own gender got "that way" from choice or because they were recruited into the behavior by their friendly priest, but I don't think it matters much. If it's a choice it's a tough one to have made; if it's genetic then the verdict on whether it's blessing or curse is cultural and the tendency to accept "bashing" in much of our culture is at best regrettable. When I was a child it was regarded as appropriate behavior to giggle over the idea of heating a penny and admiring the effect of a burnt hand on a "retard." Attacking Jehovah's Witnesses was actively encouraged by some "Christians" and if gay men hadn't been deeply closeted they'd probably have suffered even more really violent shit. The list of people who are gay and have contributed mightily to the development of what we have come to think of as admirable is very extensive and as the closets crumble, more misconceptions about the "condition" are shown to be absurd. A Walker Percy character says something like "pity is the first step to the gas chamber" and I think that another first step is the bigots' conviction that "faggots" are fair game for anything from ridicule to a little bash here and there. If you "can't stand faggots" I would urge you to get to know a few who share your nonsexual interests; you will be surprised and, I hope, get over your prejudice.