Generally speaking, I like people on principle. Maybe it's because I spent so many years being tormented and made fun of, but it's always made sense to me to just treat others well as a matter of courtesy, and I get along with the vast majority of those I meet.
To make me angry you have to be a real winner, and to get me to the point where I'm deliberately unkind to you likely implies some sort of social disability on your part.
Alas, this story falls into the unfolding narative that I am beginning with deep regret to discover is a part of the gay story, the fact that gay men behave abominably to each other.
Red-Haired Friend called me yesterday afternoon and invited me to go clubbing with her. I was tired and not feeling very well, but my plans to go out Friday night had fallen through and the weekend would feel wasted if I did nothing, so I agreed.
I arrived at Red-Haired Friend's dormitory to meet two of her roommates and a gay friend from Growing State whom we'll call Douche-Bag.
The trouble with Douche-Bag apparently started while we were getting ready to leave, but I would later learn Red-Haired Friend had shown him my picture on Facebook and that this person I'd never met was making comments about me before I even got there.
As we were preparing in front of the mirror, Douche-Bag asked casually, "So, what kind of guys are you into?"
I looked over at him.
Douche-Bag was very well-dressed and neatly groomed, but he was also significantly overweight.
"I generally just go for my own body type," I said, stating it in what I thought was the most tactful way possible.
"Oh!" he said, a caustic laugh already on his lips. "Well, then, do I have the perfect guy for you!"
He took me by the shoulders and turned me around so that I was facing myself.
"Okay," I said, already irritated. "I didn't mean I wanted someone who looked exactly like me, I just meant someone with roughly my same build."
"Oh, okay," he said with a leer in his eyes.
"I mean, I wouldn't want someone really tall and broad," I clarified. "And I wouldn't want someone really short and rail thin either."
"Honey," he said, approaching me. "You probably wear what, a 29 waist?"
"28," I answered.
"Yeah, you are rail thin," he said. "So you're basically saying you don't want someone short?"
In addition to being quite round, he was also about three inches shorter than me.
"No," I said. "No. I just like my same type. If I were a bigger guy I'd be into bigger guys."
"You're just digging yourself a deeper hole," he smiled.
"Douche-Bag, stop," one of Red-Haired Friend's roommates said.
"What, I'm just--"
"No, you're making drama. Stop."
Out in the hallway, as we pulled on our coats, I tried to smooth things over.
"This is going to be so much fun!" I enthused. "I love clubbing!"
"Why, because everyone's going to be on you?" Douche-Bag asked.
"Uh..." I began, taken aback. "No..."
"We can't all be thin and beautiful," he added, smirking.
Why would anyone say something so awkward?
During the entire train ride into Marble City he said things to me that had the express intent of making me uncomfortable, insults and insinuations couched in the cloak of friendly banter.
"I hope there are guys there who are your type," he repeated several times throughout.
Once we actually reached the club, I wasn't talking to him anymore.
"He's mad at me," I could hear him whispering from behind.
I just ignored him, and meant to leave it at that. He was, after all, Red-Haired Friend's friend, and out of consideration for her and the fact that she invited me I had no desire to make the situation stressful.
Once we were in the club, though, he kept at it.
I was lingering with our group, too intimidated to approach the mostly taken guys on the half-empty dance floor of the declining establishment.
"Why aren't you up on someone?" he asked snidely over the music. "Don't stay here with us, go!"
As I said earlier, I was determined not to respond to this childish teasing, but after two drinks the rationale for doing nothing seemed far less solid, and my wish to get even at the insufferable prig for seeking to make an outsider feel unwanted became far more sensible.
I went off, grabbed two cute black men, and, dancing with both at the same time, edged over to where my friends were standing.
I waited until Douche-Bag was facing me, then left my partners behind and approached him.
I moved in, rubbing against his leg, pressing my stomach to his body, and bringing my face just close enough to his that he thought I was going to kiss him.
In the moment his eyes lit up and he leaned forward, I pulled away.
"No," I whispered, smiling.
He gravitated towards me, and, with a sweet laugh, I shook my head withdrew further into the crowd.
As we were leaving some time later, I apologized to Douche-Bag for what I'd nearly allowed to happen.
"I just want you to know, Douche-Bag, that your integrity is paramount to me," I said. "And I would never do anything to tarnish your honor. We were dancing back there, but no matter how drunk I got, I would never, ever, EVER, take advantage of you like that. EVER."
"It would have been unfair of me. You were in an altered state of mind."
"I was?" he asked. "You were drunk."
"Yes, I was," I answered. "But you were taken in by the sophisticated atmosphere. And don't worry. Like I said, no matter how drunk I was, nothing would happen. I have that kind of restraint. Even if every ounce of alcohol in the world were poured upon my head, I would never touch you. EVER. I care that much."
He looked like he wanted to punch me.
"BB," Red-Haired Friend said, looking surprised and concerned, as if she were seeing something in me for the first time. "Stop."
"What?" I asked, and my laughter sounded cruel even to my ears. "I'm just trying to preserve his honor."
Douche-Bag didn't say a single word to me as we rode the Metro back to Major University, but Red-Haired Friend did.
"BB," she said. "I know you're not trying to be rude, and I know you're meaning to do something nice, but when you talk about 'preserving people's honor' it doesn't come off the right way."
I laughed, amazed at how much credit she was giving me.
"Red-Haired Friend, I did it intentionally," I said, my eyes alight with mirth. "He was an ass to me the entire night."
"Well, okay, that's fine, but just don't bother with him anymore," she said.
"I won't," I assured her. "But you know me, and you know I'm not a bad person. In the entire time we've been friends, have I ever once said a rude thing to you?"
"No," she admitted.
"I try to be right to people," I explained. "But he started in on me for no reason."
This morning, I was torn between guilt at one of most vindictive things I have ever done to anyone and savage satisfaction at inflicting pain on an individual who was determined to embarrass and discomfit a newcomer for the sole purpose of boosting his own self-esteem. I have no tolerance for people like that, and, in a hard corner of my heart, far away from the one that wants to be better in the future, I hoped I made him cry.
The whole incident was saddening, because it's symptomatic of the wider viciousness that exists in gay culture, something that I lamented to Black Dress Girl on the phone this afternoon when I just needed someone to talk to.
"I didn't realize before I came out that it was like this," I told her. "I had no idea that within the gay community people were so destructive. You know, we face so many obstacles in the outside world: a large part of society doesn't accept us, we're a minority, we don't have the same rights. You'd think that we wouldn't put up barriers ourselves, but we do, and it really hurts my heart to see it."
There are good ones out there, some of them my friends.
That doesn't stop the bad from being hard.