I have a love-hate relationship with my small hometown. It’s rare to find someone who expands their social circle beyond their life-long acquaintances, except perhaps when you’re gay. A small community with even smaller sub-communities. It encourages that ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ mentality. When times are good it’s all laughs and parties, however when it’s not it’s just nosey and interferring.
I was back home in Somerset, however most of my friends were still away at University. Although unlike me they came home often and I would see them regularly at the only nightclub in town. I was glad to be back among them, although I had been told off once or twice for not keeping in touch as much as I should have done. I really only got to see them when they were back at the weekends and it was always fun to hang out with the girls, I missed it.
The lads were there every day to hang out with, so naturally everyone would mix. It was a small town and we’d all gone to school together and were familiar with each other. An interesting thing happened, a couple months after Peter, Katy and I had started hanging out with Michael, Billy, Aaron and Nick a revelation was shared. Firstly it was Billy, he confided in us that he was gay, and although he wasn’t ready to put himself out there and start dating just admitting this to us was a huge step for him.
Next thing we know it wasn’t just Billy, slowly but surely our circle of friends was growing in homosexuality. Aaron although he’s not gay did confess to occasionally having feelings for guys. It seemed only Nick and Michael were straight these days. Of my girl friends from school I’m the only lesbian, yet no one bats an eyelid if they see two straight girls kissing, no one screams ‘Ugh Lesbian’ at them. Not that they all indulged in activities like that, but some of them did and it was just sport to them.
Although this created a very confusing atmosphere for a time. The gay guys I would hang out with were quite stereotypically camp, likewise Katy and I both looked the part of the soft butch type. Short spiky hair and subtly dressed in mens clothes. Everyone that looked on would assume that we were all gay. Unfortunately for Michael and Nick that included them.
Not to mention that if either of them expressed even the slightest quality which could hint at any possible effeminate nature Katy and Peter would pounce on it and try to ‘out’ them. It was very strange behaviour from two people that had already experienced what it was like to come to terms with their sexuality. It was far worse for Michael, I think this mostly stemmed from the fact that Peter desperately wanted him to be gay and would do his upmost to confuse and torment him.
I remember seeing Michael lose his temper with it often. I don’t think the problems really reached their climax until one evening where we’d been talking with my girl friends when they were back from University. One of them had expressed to me that they thought Michael was quite attractive, I joked with them that they should get together and was met with the statement ‘But he’s gay!’ Frankly I was astounded that they had come to that conclusion, and I put them straight right away.
By this time Michael had been our friend for a number of years. He had witnessed Katy and I grow and change and some of the changes he found hard to be around when he got labelled gay by association. I didn’t blame him. Tensions were running high between Michael and Katy. I was caught in the middle, Katy honestly thought that he might have been gay at one point and thought she was helping him come to terms with it. Michael was annoyed with her behaviour and accused her of not being able to do anything with her life unless it revolved around her gay lifestyle. He was right.
Katy had changed so much in the time that we had been together. Her whole life was really about being gay, meeting other gay people, looking the part, scorning anyone that wasn’t a ‘gold star’, watching gay interest films and TV programs and listening mostly to music either produced by lesbians or gay icons. The two years had seen her turn into a complete stereotype, she’d cut all her hair off (which truly suits her better than the long hair did) and only once or twice begrudgingly have I ever seen her wear clothes intended for a woman.
Michael isn’t a neanderthal, he’s a very accepting person and had he met Katy and had this been the person that she had always been I doubt he would have had a problem with it. Well, except for the ‘gay by association’ part. Yet to him these changes had come about at the same time when Katy had stopped being such a supportive friend to him. He was hurt by her behaviour and didn’t seem to like the person she was becoming.
I remember one day being summoned to the shop to visit Katy at work. We sat up in the office for a time and she showed me a letter that Michael had written to her. He communicated his feelings well but there was no mistaking his anger as I read through the letter. The hardest part came when I had finished reading the letter and I had to tell Katy that I agreed with him. Things were frosty for a while after that but she dealt with it well, the constant accusations and attempting to drag him out of the closet when he wasn’t even hiding in one to start with seemed to stop.
It was back to harmony among friends. Yet there were times Katy and I were just getting back to our volatile ways. I think it mostly started happening because I didn’t always agree with and support her. I would attempt to put her in her place when I thought she was being out of line. Katy would think that I was continually putting her down in front of our friends and making fun of her. Then every so often those skeletons that were hiding in our closet would rattle, neither of us could see the storm coming.