I'll Tell You What I'd Do If I Were GayCommentary • people • Opinion • gay & lesbian • ISSUE 40•07 • Feb 18, 2004 By Keith Whitlock Keith Whitlock A guy from work introduced me to his boyfriend this week. He seemed pretty nice, but it was weird, because he didn't look gay at all. He was a computer programmer and looked like any fat, balding slob you'd run into on the street. I have to say, I would never let myself go like that if I were gay. If I were gay, I would be very well groomed. I'd purchase two high-quality suits, one nice suit jacket, and two pairs of wool trousers. I'd get about eight shirts tailored, and I would own my own tuxedo, for special occasions. I'd grow my buzzcut into a sophisticated Caesar cut, and I would brighten it with tastefully blended golden highlights. Each morning, I would tame my hair's unruly kinks with a dollop of molding paste and a little reparative shine serum. (It's important to use the right products, if you want to maintain healthy hairespecially when it's gay. ) If I were gay, there's no way I'd shave with a disposable razor and a bar of Dial soap, like I do as a straight man. As a gay man, I'd make shaving a ritual. I would prepare my face with a foaming exfoliating cleanser, then I'd use a cucumber shave gel and a sharp blade. I might even use a straight razor that I would sharpen on a soapstone. I would definitely use hot wax to bring my unruly eyebrows under control, and my nose hairs would never see the light of day again. As a gay man of the world, I would have a career that made use of my inherent talent in art, architecture, fashion, or entertainment. Right now, I bus tables in the hospital cafeteria. But as a homosexual, I would be resourceful enough to channel my passion for antiques into a viable means of self-employment. My antique shop, located in a trendy neighborhood, would attract an interesting mix of university intellectuals, vintage furniture collectors, and fashionable shoppers. Sometimes, my weakness for kitsch would threaten to overpower the sophisticated environment of the store, but I'd manage to mute it. I'm not sure what my lover would do for a living, but I assume he'd run the vintage costume and prop shop next door. I do know this: If I were gay, my lover and I would spend our weekends combing estate sales together. Gay Keith would have a brassy but likable personality. Even though I would have lost a few of my younger years to partying, wanton sex, and a love affair that ended badly, I would have gained wisdom and experience from this "walk on the wild side." While I would be too honest with myself to ignore life's harsh realities, I would be playful enough to have a sense of humor about them. This sense of humor would be quite salty and acerbic. Some would consider the way I would chide my close female friendher name would be Trishfor her frumpiness a tad harsh. But I would only tease Trish to encourage her to better herself. I'd see potential in her, even if she didn't. True, the way I call my real-life wife a lazy slob isn't constructive, just abusive, but heterosexual men aren't as understanding as homosexual ones. If I were gay, I would donate generous amounts of money to the fight against AIDS. I can't say enough how important that would be to me. AIDS is a global scourge that has taken countless lives in the gay community, and has reached epidemic proportions in many Third World countries. I would donate a portion of my business' profits to various groups that conduct AIDS research, and place a coin-donation bank from a reputable AIDS charity near the cash register in my shop. Finally, if I were gay, I would make an excellent uncle. My kids know to stay away from me when I'm drunk or watching ESPN, but gay Uncle Keith would be totally different. I'd get down on my hands and knees with the kids and dig for fossils at the children's museum. I'd read to them from the beloved storybooks I'd have saved since childhood. I'd even let them rollerblade on the rooftop of my condo. Then, we'd all pile into my 2001 forest-green Jaguar XK convertible and go out for frosty malts at a retro diner. Sometime in their early teenage years, it would dawn on my nieces and nephews that I didn't own a television, and that I was a homosexual. I'm still unsure about a few things in my gay life. I haven't decided whether I should re-establish contact with my estranged father. I also don't know whether I should lend money to the fun-loving but irresponsible drag queen who was my first boyfriend after I came out at age 19. Would I enjoy the occasional tab of E or bump of cocaine with my wild friends at the dance clubs, or would I prefer to drink Bombay Sapphire martinis in my living room with a small handful of close confidants? I'm not sure how my laugh would sound. But I do know that I would always be mindful of my many strengths. I wouldn't be afraid to make mistakes, because I would know that that's just a part of the learning process. I would believe in myself, and my happiness would be my own, because I would have sought it on my own terms. After all, things would just keep getting better.