Queerty contributor Tanner Efinger is blogging about his two-month U.S. road trip before skipping across the pond to England with his partner, Nick. Follow their adventure from Los Angeles to Vancouver to New Orleans and up the Mississippi River as they traverse the purple mountains’ majesty.
To catch you up: After ten years of living in New York and L.A., I’m moving with my fiancé, Nick, to England.
I’ve recently left my apartment in Los Angeles and moved in with him in the Republican high desert town of Lancaster, California. Where scenes from Kill Bill and The Devils Rejects were shot.
We’re spending this month selling our belongings, renting his house and preparing for a two-month road trip across the U.S., before we move—for at least four years—to the United Kingdom, where Nick will get his PhD at Oxford. The information herein documents that journey.
So fairly early on in our say in Lancaster, I realized I’m afraid of small-town conservatives.
It all started because I’m still never sure what to call Nick, anyway. We consider ourselves engaged and we have a domestic partnership. Sometimes he’s my boyfriend, my partner, my fiancé, my husband and now, to the redneck repairman fixing our window, “the other guy who lives in the house.”
He asked about payment and I mentioned that “the other guy who lives in the house” would be here later to write him a check. I couldn’t believe I said it. I’ve never been ashamed of who I am. I was in a naked production of Macbeth, for Christ’s sake—and yet here I was searching for a word to hide the fact that I was gay. In that moment, I was afraid of what he might think of me.
Okay, I was afraid of him.
Turns out this big city fish can be a piddling guppy when he’s out of his element. Filled with shame for about 20 minutes, I conceived a big, blustery way to make up for my poor choice of words. About half way through the bang bang bang of window repairs, I brought him a glass of pink lemonade (with a slice of lemon—so gay!), looked him straight in the eye, and said, “my partner, Nick, will be here any minute to write you a check.”
He smiled and thanked me for the lemonade. Nick came and wrote him a check and then he finished the windows. Then he thanked us both and left with a smile on his face.
What was I so afraid of? That he would laugh or threaten me? I’m just some guy who hired him for a job. Maybe he knew I was gay all along and didn’t care.
Ah well, onward and upward. Hopefully we’ll make some cold hard cash at the yard sale this weekend, so we can avoid sleeping in the car on the road trip.
Images via Jonathan P. Russell and rekordkustoms
Did the repairman come back and burn down the house? That picture seems to need an explanation.
You say: my partner Nick will be by to write the check . . .
He thinks: okay, I’ll get the check from your businesses partner. Thanks for the lemonade.
I know exactly how you feel. This has happened to me many times before, and I’m never exactly sure what to say. I’m not a dishonest person, but the fear is there. And the shame. Followed by a distinct desire to correct any misconceptions.
It’s not often I actually get to follow through on it though, since my partner and I, or the persons in question are no longer around.
@DannyB: Yeah, maybe he still didn’t get it. Tanner should have invited him for a threesome, then he would have known. =)
Small town types dead set on judging you are more fond of awkward looks, whispered rumors, and passive aggressive stonewalling; It’s the stuff bait shop gossip is made of. This is why right-wing radio does so well on work sites and car radios; it gives the illusion of intimacy by mimicking the pettiest of church picnic scuttlebutt.
Great story. But not following what the burnt out building has to do with anything?
I live in a small conservative town. I am, as far as I know, the only out lesbian in the town. No one’s burning crosses on my lawn and no one’s beat me up… though when I used to frequent the (only) bar in town I was called a dyke on more than one occasion. In defense of the town though the bar doesn’t really cater to the upstanding citizens. I’ve never really encountered straight up angry homohate but there’s a lot of casual homophobia, teenagers making gay jokes. Men affirming the manliness of themselves, women affirming their attraction to manly men.
It’s not scary as much as it is sad.
After you closed the door, the “redneck” got into his truck and phoned his boyfriend, thankful that they lived an open non-judgmental life, unlike these poor closeted city types. 🙁
When you end up sleeping in your car, I hope it turns out to be one with a bluebook value more than your IQ.
I find small town conservatives a hell of a lot more friendly than big politics conservatives. I have never had trouble in a small town. I know gay couples in small towns; they experience no trouble. I was once in Clovis New Mexico, stuck for the night; I went to a local country bar for a beer. There were a few guys in one corner, with a small Rainbow flag in a vase. I asked “What’s with the gay flag?” “This is our gay bar,” I was told. Then two of the guys got up and did a slow dance with all the hetero couples out on the dance floor. No one said a word or batted an eye. I’d say that was a level of acceptance.
It’s not the “conservative” or the “small town,” nor even Christians, that’s the issue. It’s the crazed loon Religious freaks, no matter where they be. Tony Perkins live in DC, he I worry about.
One thing I noticed growing up in a small conservative Southern town is that many people are homophobic except when it comes to people they know. The pursed-lipped church biddies and rednecks might be casually homophobic but if you say anything against their gay grandson or sister they’ll kill you in your sleep! And of course it’s been shown that people who know gay people are less homophobic which is why coming out is so important, not just for your own peace of mind but for the gay community.
However, if a company has a “Jesus fish” or a Bible verse in their advertising I won’t use them. It’s not that I’m hostile to religious belief or faith in itself, but when people feel the need to literally advertise it chances are they’re self-righteous jerks. Ironically, those who are “born again” are almost always people you wish hadn’t been born the first time.
^^^^this. Most small-town/rural folk are what’s loosely called “common-sense” conservatives. They’re more focused on things like the economy, and couldn’t give two shits about where other people stick their penises.
@Riker: Why do you care so much about Queerty trash-talking rednecks? You’re a redneck, aren’t you?
I’m a belly dancer, and I would never even think about belly dancing in a conservative town. That’s because I know that rednecks hate women as much as they hate gay people.
@slanty: Actually i’m a New Yorker. I just don’t approve of stereotyping other people the way we get stereotyped. People are much more nuanced than we give them credit for.
@Riker: Sure you are, and I’m a Martian. The only people who defend rednecks in the face of their overwhelming anti-gay bigotry (and anti-women attitudes as Yellow Belly pointed out) are other rednecks.
@slanty: So, how’s the weather on Mars these days? Also, try reading some of my other posts, where I share my experiences as a New York gay Republican.
I think what Yellow Belly is trying to say (if you think about the subtext of her post) is that she’s afraid of being sexually abused by a Southerner. A lot of women are.
You know what would have been funny? If the repairman said that he was gay too, and you both had a good laugh over it.
I can see why people have issues with “white trash,” but “redneck”? Who cares? Hell, when I drive around on a pleasant Summer night with all the car windows down, music BLASTING, I call it “going rednecking.” If you want to complain about “redneck” call up Jeff Foxworthy because I don’t want to hear it. Some of the best, kindest people I know are blue-collar Southerners, “rednecks” based on their style and interests (NASCAR, etc.), and they laugh about it. Like all stereotypes there’s some truth to it and a lot of exceptions to the rule.
I am stuck in a small town in Upstate New York. I fear the local yokels, quite precisely because they are the tea party loons. My other personal experience has been in a town with an open Klan presence in Pennsylvania. That being said, I have not had the bad experiences, just the questioning glances, merely because I am an outsider.
I don’t have trouble w rednecks or small towns. What I really don’t like though are hot repairmen forgetting to take their pants off before they walk across the carpet. I mean, I put a sign on the door n’ all. Can’t they read?
@Yellow Belly: I agree. They are stupid enough to think that they have higher power on their side. A scary thought.
I grew up in a small town in South Dakota that had a population of less than 300 people. I came out when I was 16. My family supported me, my friends supported me, and despite a few awkward glances and whispers at the beginning, the town didn’t care. I was even elected homecoming king. I think a lot of the negative opinions about small towns comes from people’s self-doubts and fears. I’ve noticed that a lot of my gay friends that have this mindset of “small-town conservative hell” waited until after they moved to a larger city to come out of the closet. Maybe if they had given their hometown the benefit of a doubt, they would’ve had a more sympathetic viewpoint? *shrugs*
@Caliban: When I think white trash, I think people who live in trailer parks. The word white trash doesn’t have any connotation of violence against minorities. Redneck does.
@DannyB: Why is everyone hating on Tanner? From what I read he was saying he was ashamed he had these prejudices. By admitting them openly isn’t he taking the first step toward correcting them? To you all saying f#*! this, aren’t you just perpetuating your own prejudices? Yes I agree it is a sad fact that people who can shrivel and hide under the cover of judgement when out of their element. Yet, I commend Tanner for standing up and saying “hey! I’m a gay city boy, and I have fears and prejudices.” now rather than condemn him why don’t we read this as if it (and I believe it was intended to be) were an introduction at a 12 step meeting? “Hello my name is Tanner (or insert your own name here). And I am afraid.”
To which we respond. “welcome Tanner. Let’s talk.”
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