A number of years ago a buddy of mine was turning 40. His wife gathered his dearest friends and arranged a night on the town for us to share with her husband. She contracted a limo to take us around Washington, DC, we went to a great dinner, out for drinks – the whole “sha-bang”.
After many stops and probably as many drinks, a couple of the guys thought it would be fun to stop into a lesbian bar. I wasn’t sure why but it seemed to some of the guys to be an expected novelty. So they told the driver to bring us to such a bar and drop us off and to collect us in an hour or so. So we entered the bar and the guys kind of scattered amidst a couple of groups. I sat at the bar and had a drink and struck up a conversation with one of the patrons to kill the time until we were all ready to leave.
No more than 30 minutes went by and the guys were ready to leave. We finished our drinks and left. On the 30 minute ride home the guys were speaking of how uncomfortable they were at the lesbian bar and that it wasn’t the novelty they had expected. I told them that I was comfortable and was enjoying it until they cut my drink and conversation short.
The next day at work, a number of us were discussing the events of the evening and again they referenced their discomfort. They asked me why I hadn’t felt uncomfortable, as they had felt. They seemed to think I wasn’t telling the truth because they thought I would’ve had to have felt as they had, until I explained why.
You see, all the buddies on the birthday excursion were White – I was the only Black guy, or any minority. I explained to them that I was entirely used to feeling out of place. Having grown up in Vermont (the state with the lowest minority population in the country) and having gone to a college where 90% of the population was White, I was entirely used to feeling that I “stuck out” – that I was an outsider, so going to a lesbian bar was absolutely no different. Once I explained this they not only understood but they gained a little perspective – they had gotten a tiny glimpse and experience of what it was like to be a minority amidst a vast group of people, unlike themselves.
Most of us would like believe prejudice, bigotry and racism is on the decline – some believe it to be nearly non-existent. It is not. Separate from the politics of the recent election, what so many millions of people are mourning is the realization that this previous thought is a delusion.
Whether they realize it or not, the people so distraught over the election are grieving the loss of a perception that more growth had occurred than had actually. The illusion of it has been shattered by the hate and nastiness spewed forth toward progressive and powerful women, by the absence of rejection of the white supremacists’ support that Trump received and the venom toward religions and cultures. And many, many women felt betrayed by other women who voted for him – because they also agreed with so many men that a woman shouldn’t be president.
Yeah, I know – many of you will claim he didn’t win because he is a man, and you are correct. He won because he wasn’t a woman. Those of you who claim his economic plans are what made him win – I might be inclined to agree with you if he had provided any plan. I’m not discussing politics here, I have little faith in our political system as it is – I’m diagramming the evidence to the contrary. He claimed no specifics, he stated hundreds of falsities and even accurately predicted that he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and not lose a vote. Again, I’m not bashing his politics nor am I promoting hers; I’m merely stating what most intelligent people can acknowledge – that with all of his shenanigans he would have lost to a man with the same record as Hillary.
While I have little faith in our political system, I still have faith in Man. Many say I’m an idiot and that this election shows Man wants to get in the mud and hate; I don’t believe so, I believe that with the absence of fear anything is possible.
Without fear of “losing”, politicians could work with bipartisanship to solve the problems we all want fixed. Without fear of losing one’s sense of entitlement, those of the majority wouldn’t need to denigrate those in the minority. Without the fear many have that they themselves have little value, there would be no need to look down upon others. Without the fear of their own sexuality, people wouldn’t need to fear those with ones different. And without the fear that their God doesn’t really exist, they’d have no need to control others who know He does.
And without the fear of not being a real man, men wouldn’t need to fear the power of women.
Fear of others different from us is alive and well. But it doesn’t have to be. An open mind, exposure, often through travel, and education is really all that’s needed.
I know eight guys who learned this lesson at a little lesbian bar on a rainy night in Washington, DC.