Friday, August 08, 2008

Gay Day

“Excuse me, is this neighborhood called something?”

I pluck a white iPod headphone from one ear and try to quickly assess what neighborhood we are in while also sizing up if the man speaking to me is attempting to:

a) pick me up

b) kill me.

We are on 23rd between Sixth and Seventh, so I say, “Um, not really. Oh, wait. Chelsea. Yeah, I guess this is Chelsea.”

The man, a handsome, 30-something, possibly Latino guy, says, “Is this a particularly gay neighborhood?”

He has a small black camera strung around his neck. We are still walking.

“Really?” I ask. “It’s Chelsea. It’s the gay neighborhood in New York.” Suddenly I am worried this guy is some sort of psychotic homophobe. Either that or he is gay. “Um, do you want it to be?”

“Sure. I mean, I’m gay,” he says. [Breathe out.] “And I was sort of blown away a block back by these guys in front of a gym…”

We laugh. All this time, we’re still walking.

“So yeah—Chelsea is the center of gay in New York,” I tell him. “You know, it’s funny, I was just listening to Dan Savage’s podcast…” I wonder why I am telling him this.

“Who’s that?” he asks.

I also begin to wonder what super-straight gay planet this man fell from.

“You know, Dan Savage—Savage Love. Columnist. The Stranger…?”

Somewhere along the way, he mentions he is from California. I babble about weekly papers, the Village Voice. I try to recall the name of a weekly in California; I say something about Dan Savage being gay and answering a lot of questions about gay sex, which he was just doing in my very ears. I am stymied that he does not know Savage Love. I keep talking about gay things—gay neighborhood, gay sex columnist, gay, gay, gay. We reach TekServe, and the man stops and says: “Ah! Here is what I’ve been looking for all along!”

He thrusts out his hand: “I’m Daniel. Have a fun time!”

“I’m McBickle,” I say, smiling. “You too.”

I continue on to the subway, pondering his signoff, curious that I seem to have introduced some core concepts of gay popular culture to this gay man in a random encounter along a gay half a city block. Gay.


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