I’ve worked in the coffee house on my campus for a while now. Last year, I worked night shift with a few of my friends. One night, I got into an argument with one of them. This is a memoir piece about what happened.
The names in the story are changed. I don’t feel like I have the right to label someone homophobic based on a single comment, and certainly not publicly. The guy, “James” in the story is not my friend. He never really was. It took some time to realize that. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad person, just someone who I did not have a healthy friendship with. We’re pleasant to each other.
Here is the full story, written out.
“Fag.” The word hit me in the face like a tornado of three letters, the abbreviated form of the word they used when they tried to burn us. James smiled as he said it.
Mike laughed it off, “nah, it wasn’t like that.” Mike had been telling me about a threesome he had with a girl he didn’t know and his male roommate. It didn’t faze him, fag. He wasn’t hurt because it didn’t apply. Confident in his own masculinity, he shrugged it off.
“Actually that’s me.” I told James, the six foot ‘nice guy’ I was closing with that night. They both ignored me. I repeated it, louder this time, “pretty sure I’m the only ‘fag’ here.”
“What?” James asked.
“I’m a fag.”
“You can’t be.”
Mike agreed with the enemy, “there’s no way.” No doubt he was thinking of the parade of boyfriends I had had most recently.
“I like girls.” I stood, arms crossed, ready. I was trying my hardest to stand up for myself.
“You’re bi.” Mike acknowledged. I thought about the multiple times I had mentioned this to him before, the number of straight jokes I had told him.
“Well that came out of nowhere.” James moved away from us, something I was glad about. He said that he would never hit a girl, but if that was true it meant that I would wind up kicking him until he blacked out or someone pulled me off of him. This would lead to legal charges, and no one needs that.
“You okay?” Mike asked me.
“I just hate that word.”
He nodded. “My roommate doesn’t like it when I use gay either. I have to check myself around him.”
I let him change the subject.