As opposed to one of those “only in Boulder” experiences many of us write about, I actually had an experience last night that was quite the opposite.
Walking out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s truly wild film, Inception, my friend Scott and I had the good misfortune to be asked for a cigarette in front of the theater crowds. When I politely said we didn’t have any (a Boulder response), the rather large, sunburned, backwards-hatted, in-search-of-a-smoke, linebacker-sized gentleman loudly yelled “Fags” at us.
About five things went through my mind instantly:
1) I’m tall, thin and in this case, neat, so perhaps he leapt to some sort of Seinfeld punchline-induced conclusion as to my sexual preference? And maybe his perceived power of deduction was so overwhelming in the moment that he decided to publicly display the full potential of his brainpower?
2) Along those lines, my friend Scott ain’t a bad looking guy, so despite my heterosexuality, perhaps this might actually serve as a compliment?
3) He was clarifying and enunciating the colloquialism for a cigarette in the off chance that I didn’t understand the more common term of a smoke?
4) I wondered if he saw me next to my Ford truck (see my earlier article on “my really big truck”) whether he would have had the same reaction? Probably so if his eyes wandered across the Blue Sun Biodiesel decal.
5) That it was so bizarre and out of place given the geographical circumstances that perhaps Ashton Kutcher was waiting in the wings looking at a video-tap of us and readying for a Punk’d moment
Given, my suspicion that this person had a somewhat lower-than-normal IQ level, I chose #5 and responded with a somewhat lighthearted “For Real?” as we continued walking. The backwards-hatted, sunburned humanoid immediately stood up to reveal his 6’4″ + linebacker size, spread his arms wide and angrily screamed, “wattup bitch?!,” much to the amazement of us and others in the post-Inception crowd, He then began to follow us. (It might have been “want some, bitch?!” but the message was directionally the same.)
More things raced through my mind at that moment. I was instantly sad about where we are as a society, and in particular, that someone like this exists. Prejudice and ignorance still ooze in the cracks and crevasses of even the most liberal communities. Even within our idyllic Boulder bubble. Before this Monday night moment, I had let the whole gay prejudice thing drop to a low priority in the pantheon of social issues that need immediate attention. I thought we had moved well past the horrific Matthew Shepard tragedy. Clearly I was wrong.
We, as a progressive group of homo sapiens (the only acceptable “homo” term in my book), need to keep education, awareness and compassion as high priorities in this country. Gay activism must continue and it’s evident to me that there is still much work to be done. The preponderance of gay celebrities, high-profile leaders and global influencers is fantastic, however it’s frustrating that it’s still not enough. Thick-skulled ignorance needs to be addressed and many people are badly in need of clarity and understanding.
Oh yeah, the last thing going through my mind was what Austin Powers karate-chop move I was going to bust on this imbecile if his speed picked up. He wanted in the worst way to do some good ol’ public fag-bashing and Scott and I were about to be his evening warm-up.
Fortunately he was doing all of this while on a cell phone and I can only surmise that whomever he was talking to might have suggested to him that his probation officer would indeed have an issue with yet another assault and battery arrest. He backed down, we walked toward the garage and alas, there was no violent entanglement or feature story in the Boulder police blotter.
Just a head-shaking understanding between myself and Scott and the sincere hope that this person doesn’t sire children and poison another generation.