You could move. -- Abigail Van Buren, "Dear Abby," in response to a reader who complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and wanted to know what he could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood.
When describing David to someone who has never met him, I often include the term "mostly gay." These two small words communicate to the worldly, A&E-watching individual that David possesses every one of the Fab Five's talents but is straight enough to enjoy the fact that his partner has boobies. I'm still not sure whether it was his passionate kisses or his obvious eye for interior design that prompted me to say yes to a second date. The proverbial "they" say that a woman will gravitate toward a man who possesses character traits similar to those of her father, and my case is no different. Should you walk into my father's home without knocking, there is a 90 percent chance you will catch him singing show tunes and burning incense while sipping red wine from a long-stemmed glass. But my dad, like David, is not gay.
More than half of my father's friends are lesbians and because of this, he affectionately calls himself a "dyke daddy."
"I'm comfortable with lesbians because I love women too!" he'll joke. At the Gay Pride Parade this year, Dad watched from the front row of an estimated 150,000 Pride revelers. I missed the fanfare, but Dad called me to announce that my friend Eddie (a.k.a. Cabana Boy) was dancing in the middle of the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center's float. My father was excited to see other friends marching and reported to me that Nancy and Carol even ran over to hug him before they jumped back in line. "I knew more people in the parade than anyone else around me!" he shouted, his own brand of pride evident in his voice.
Dad called again from Balboa Park -- what he calls the "inner sanctum" of the Pride festivities -- where he was volunteering at a booth for Midtown Church of Religious Science, of which he is a member. Only a man confident in his masculinity can immerse himself in the gayest activity of the year. Dad's coworkers, many of them ex-military and governmental, would sooner drink Drano than be seen driving down University Avenue for lunch on a weekday for fear that they might be mistaken for a homosexual.
The funny thing is, being thought of as gay is the highest of compliments, at least for anyone in a city cosmopolitan enough to offer espresso with a twist of lemon peel. Like my father, I have lesbian friends, all of them wonderful. However, it is the gay boys and their distinctive behavior that tend to draw me into their orbit. If my father is a Dyke Daddy, then I am a Fruit Fly.
A woman falling in love with her gay male friend is a classic scenario, and though I've never suffered from such a fate, I can understand why it happens. Most gay men are well-groomed, stylish, thoughtful, and just as interested in shopping and trash-talking the anchorwoman's choice of lipstick color as most women are. What's not to love?
But the characteristics of these marvelous men that draw me in above all others are verve and panache. These guys are having fun and enjoying life; they show the same level of enthusiasm for a stylish new hairdo as they would if Ricky Martin showed up on their front doorstep wearing a tangerine Speedo. That's why we call them gay , the small word that has several definitions in the dictionary, including "Showing cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; Bright or lively; Given to social pleasures."
Shortly after I graduated high school, my prom date came out of the closet. We were never involved romantically; he was my best friend's older brother. But though my gaydar was not yet fully developed, I must have sensed that his hips swished in a different direction, for I was not surprised when my friend told me "the news."
I honed my homo-interaction skills while living in West Hollywood. One of my closest friends at the time was a petite, blond bombshell named Sassy, or Craig when he wasn't in drag. On Saturday night we would begin our adventure at a dance club filled with beautifully sculpted, half-naked men and end up in a restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. where I was the only woman in a building filled with drag queens and their admirers.
I preferred the gay dance clubs because the creep factor was eliminated, as was the embarrassment quotient. I didn't have to wonder if any of these guys thought I was sexy or alluring. I could be myself . The more flamboyant, brassy, and sharp-tongued I was, the more the boys loved me. And I love to be flamboyant, brassy, and sharp-tongued. Sassy and I were bombastic and anything we did, we did in a loud, colorful way, complete with generous amounts of glitter and feathers.
As of this week, David and I are official residents of Hillcrest, the Greenwich Village of San Diego -- meaning highly concentrated homosexuals, resulting in finer and funkier places to shop, dine, and party. When you move to a place like Hillcrest, you must be either gay or gay-friendly. We are the latter but most of our new neighbors are the former.
Because I'm nosy, I've been peeking into many of the other condos in our building and have ooh'd and aah'd at the design concepts executed by my gay neighbors. John and Todd, who have one of the tall-ceiling ground-floor units, decorated their new home and installed creative lighting within a matter of days. Where do you boys find the time? John and Joe have already painted their entire home, Jeff and John have finally figured out which way to face their baby grand piano, and Mark and James are well on their way to a fully realized terrace fit for Egyptian kings.