White Elephant

Ramble. People who know me should be surprised; I may not be a liberal, but I’m not a conservative.

We had a potluck/white elephant at work today. There’s a guy that sits across the cube wall from the Tech Pubs area, a real bastion of conservatism, who’s been teasing everyone about being gay and watching Brokeback Mountain. One of my coworkers bought the movie, wrapped it up, and managed to get him to pick it out of the pile. A seemingly-unending stream of teasing, both toward the guy and from him, ensued.

It’s hard to say what I’m trying to say here, this paradox I’m trying to grasp. When I first started working at my job, this guy really pissed me off. The more I listen to him (and there isn’t much choice), the more I realize how different this unending stream of giving people crap is from the conservatism I grew up with. Even more so the conservatism in Iowa.

His sense of humor is loud; it’s annoying; it’s repetitive. But it’s not vicious or violent or even taken for granted: you can’t imagine the guy finding out someone is gay and arranging to have the shit beaten out of him because people don’t do that. No, gay people (much like the ACLU, which has received a Christmas card with the baby Jesus from him again this year) are just a target of crap…an increased level of crap, but that’s about it. Give him the choice between making fun of a French person and a drag queen, and he’d cheerfully say the two are synonymous and wallow in it…all in all, it’s a relief. It’s not the barely concealed hate I grew up with, well, not for gay people, but for other groups. Gay people weren’t even talked about when I was growing up, because they didn’t exist. The elephant in the living room that nobody sees…

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