Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One in Ten. Really?!

Last weekend a friend sacrificed the hot summer city action for a visit to my peaceful abode. He always marvels at how dark it gets at night and how many different birds can be heard chirping at 4:30 in the morning. These matters are remarkable when you're accustomed to the mood lighting of office buildings that remain lit 24/7 and when sirens and motorcycle rumbling drown out any auditory evidence that animal life exists. I'm glad my setting has something to offer!

Over a bottle of wine, we sat on my deck and chatted about a range of subjects. Somehow, the conversation drifted to an oft-quoted stat that I heard in the late 80s when I was on the verge of coming out. One in ten. I would try to imagine it, going back through my high school classes to figure out what other two students in Government 12 were gay. My imagination always seemed lacking. All I could come up with was one in thirty.

Living in Dallas, I'd scan a restaurant or a movie theater and try to identify the others who'd bring the crowd to ten percent gay. Granted, it was easy to do before a screening of "Maurice", but I struggled while grabbing a bite at Long John Silver's, name notwithstanding.

I took comfort in the stat even though I questioned it. Once I moved to Los Angeles, it no longer mattered. I could go to the gay ghetto, West Hollywood, and experience gay immersion. The same happened in Vancouver, with its much prettier ghetto, the West End. I was not alone.

Now that I live in the boonies, the stat has resurfaced with all its doubt. About three thousand people live in the closest town and, counting the outlying areas, the population reaches about five thousand. That means five hundred gays. Not a chance! Sure, many would have fled for metropolitan areas, but the numbers don't even seem to reach three figures. I'd put it at seventy, with lesbians representing the bulk of that.

Even in Vancouver, I don't think the numbers hit ten percent. My friend suggested that many continue to hide within heterosexual relationships. No doubt, some do. But we have gay marriage throughout the country and, while there will always be intolerant oafs, things are pretty open and tolerant.

One in ten. I just don't see it.

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