A short piece written for Dialogue Thursday at the Writer’s Soapbox on Facebook.
Title inspired by the first person to comment, Rosa Arcade.
She gave me a look that fell somewhere between encouragement and pity. I couldn’t tell if she enjoyed the story, or if her smile would be better reserved for telling an aging grandparent that he was going to have the time of his life at his new nursing home.
“This comment here,” she said, frantically flipping through the pages until she found the bit of dialogue that concerned her, “I don’t know if you want him to say that. Because it makes it seem like he’s gay.”
“Yes?” I waited. No response. “And?”
“Well, you don’t want readers to think he’s gay.”
“Maybe,” I shrugged. “It’s too early in the story to tell one way or the other. I like to keep it ambiguous.”
“But, I just don’t think he should make a comment like that.”
“Okay. I appreciate that it might bother some readers, but I don’t think it will bother all that many. This is the 21st century, after all, and people aren’t so bothered by such things these days.”
She seemed uncertain. At first I thought she would move on to the other areas of the story that could use improvement, but then as if a floodgate had just burst, “But it’s wrong.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, holding back a sigh.
“If he’s gay, it would be wrong.”
“Well, because, it’s a sin.”
“In your opinion.”
“No, it’s a sin. You can go to Hell for that.”
This time I let the sigh go. I was trying to be professional and open to the critique she might offer, but this had nothing to do with the story, so I dropped the kid gloves.
“I’m pretty sure you can go to hell for a lot of things. Like, for example, passing judgment on other people for their preferences.”
From her expression, it was clear that she was shocked by her inability to convert me on the spot with her expression of homophobia. And perhaps because of this, I went on, “Besides, if Hell was an exclusive club where you could definitely go to find gay men, that would hardly be a deterrent. It’d be like trying to treat bulimia by making them work at an ipecac factory.”
She bristled. Then, “Bulimia is more common in girls than in boys.”