So yesterday, I'm at the gym, working out with a friend. This friend is a lot . . . how shall I put this . . . "prettier" than me, and I guess some people might say he's "obviously" gay. A few other friends, with other hallmarks of gayness, approached to say hello to me as well. I guess they had effeminate demeanors. Their hairstyles were obviously maintained, one of them with recently bleached-blond hair, another with an intricate crown of spikes. It's a lot more attention than the average guy puts in to his appearance before going to the gym.

Now, personally, I don't think my non-straight orientation is obvious to anyone, because I really don't go to any great lengths to share my sexual orientation in my dress. In fact, I go to some lengths to make my appearance 'normal', and consistent with the gender expectations of my college's culture. This may be -- no, is -- somewhat contrary to my deeper beliefs on what should be the case, since I don't intellectually view the American (or even global) binary gender paradigm with favor. But it is obvious to me that I participate in it nonetheless.

Of course, the way my gay friends chose to dress and present themselves is no less consistent with cultural expectations. Be not fooled; gay culture has similar demands of its members. There is a (rather annoying) pervasive mentality among the self-identified homosexuals I know, to arrogantly abjure nonconformist, less-fasionable, or differently-fashioned gay people, while all the while decrying the imposed-norms of "mainstream culture" on them in the arena of their sexual behaviors and preferences. The irony is, apparently, lost on them.

All of this is to lead to a baffling comment I received from another guy at the gym yesterday. This guy and I have seen each other regularly in the weight room, and we are both frequent gym-goers. He's twice my size (and I'm already quite well-built), and he has a bit of an aggressive demeanor which, because it intimidates me somewhat, has inspired me to keep a solid distance from him.

So he comes up to me, asks about using the inclined rowing machine that I'd been occupying and using along with my gayer, prettier friend, and when I replied that I was done right now and he could have it all to himself, he said:

"Oh, OK. You know, I don't care what they say about you guys; you're alright."
To which I replied, confusedly, "Oh? What exactly is it that 'they' say about 'us'?"

"I don't even care," he said, "you guys are alright."

So I shook my head and walked to the water fountain, thinking that he was talking about my race (as I appear "white", and he, "black"). Then it occurred to me that this was unlikely . . . and that he was talking about 'the homosexuals.'

I asked myself, (and ask myself even now), many things. Is it that obvious? Should I wear looser shirts? Quit styling my hair? Should I even attempt to hide it? Was he talking about my sexual orientation, (at least, what he perceived it to be)?

In any case, the comment bothers me, because in a way, I found it condescending, pitying, and patronizing. And it makes me wonder more than ever, 'What DO 'they' say about me when I'm not around?' . . .