I had forgotten how much fun it is to be outdoors, in a crowd, and listen to other people’s conversations. Not intentionally, of course. One cannot tell what others are thinking when you wait for a concert to begin unless they speak in perceptible voices. One Saturday night in June, my partner and I had terrific seats to see Jim Curry, a gifted vocalist who does “A Tribute to John Denver” concerts nationally. He was performing with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, the weather was delightful and cool, and we know all the words to most John Denver songs, and planned on singing them (it’s actually expected!) We were excited and anticipated having an awesome time and were not disappointed.
Prior to the performance, about a row behind us, I overheard the word “pride” and thought, hmmm, this month is Pride month, perhaps there’s some “family” behind us? So, yes, I do confess leaning back in my chair just slightly, hoping to overhear additional thoughts. And then I heard “I’m worried about her going to that Pride March thing. You know how those gay lifestyles can be so dangerous.” OK, so definitely NOT family. I wanted to turn around and educate these folks but decided against it. I didn’t see the point. But, here’s the thing. What is a gay lifestyle, anyway? Honestly, I didn’t need to do a bunch of research, because I’m gay and I have gay friends, some of whom are students, professionals (doctors, lawyers, therapists, interior decorators, to name a very few), and some of us are retired. We enjoy good restaurants, theatre, John Denver tributes, travel and baseball games. We play tennis, go jogging, we go bowling. Some of us workout at the gym or use silks. We read, we write, we sing. Our concerns vary, as do our priorities, and religious beliefs. Does this sound dangerous to you? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Guess what? This describes my heterosexual friends too!
Inspired by this ignorant misconception, I did read a study done by Case Western Reserve University in 2021 on “Sexual Orientation Myths & Facts” and here’s a sample of their data:
Myth: Lesbian, gay and bisexual people “flaunt” their sexuality when they talk about their partner, hold hands or kiss one another in public.
These are activities that heterosexual couples do all of the time. Due to homophobic reactions, some lesbian, gay and bisexual people are actually forced to hide their sexuality in public, not flaunt it.
Myth: People who are lesbian, gay and bisexual work and live in only certain types of situations.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people belong to all ethnic and racial groups, are members of all religious communities, exhibit a range of mental and physical capabilities, and are of all ages.
Fact: The majority of child molesters are heterosexual men, not lesbian, gay or bisexual people.
Almost all studies show that over 90% of child molestation is committed by heterosexual men.
Fact: There is no definable gay “lifestyle”.
Similarly, there is no standard heterosexual lifestyle . . . the most accurate generalization might be this: lesbian, gay and bisexual people are different from one another in the same ways that heterosexual people are different from one another.
“Riding on the tapestry of all there is to see, so many ways and oh, so many things. Rejoicing in the differences, there’s no one just like me. Yet as different as we are, we’re still the same.”
---John Denver, “Season Suite: Summer, Fall, Winter, Late Winter, Early Spring”
Cindy Davis is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor.
She was an advice columnist for the Times-News, and is also a PFLAG Board Member.
Watch for Cindy's column each month on our Newsletter