I was on the bus the other day and near me were three teenage boys. We shared about twenty minutes of bus ride. I’d say they were 16 or so. I’m bad at guessing ages though, so I could be way off. They were old enough to know better anyway.
I was watching them and eavesdropping (in a totally non-creepy way, of course.) They were interesting to watch because there was an obvious pecking order among them. One boy was the natural alpha of the group. He was quiet but confident and the other two deferred to his judgment more or less consistently. Then there was the joker sidekick. The third boy seemed to be trying very hard — to do what, I’m not sure — impress maybe? I think I’ve played all three parts myself in the past. It was intriguing to watch it in action.
Anyway, apparently there was mutiny in the ranks, because at one point their conversation turned into this:
ALPHA: I bought a sweet orange bag last weekend.
JOKER: You can’t have an orange bag. Orange is gay.
ALPHA: Orange is not gay.
JOKER: It’s gay. (To TRY HARD) Orange is gay, isn’t it?
TRY HARD: Um, maybe.
ALPHA: Orange is not gay.
JOKER: Sorry man, it’s totally gay. And if you have a gay bag….
ALPHA: It’s NOT gay!
This conversation was funny in its way, but also pathetic. For one thing, I really hate when people use the word gay as a pejorative. For another thing, this exchange seemed to show a lack of understanding of what the word “gay” means. Now, I understand that there is a school of thought that believes that keeping a child ignorant of something you don’t want them involved in will prevent them from being involved in it. Ergo, not telling young boys about what gay means will prevent them from becoming gay. Clearly, this is crap. All that keeping a child ignorant does is create an ignorant adult.
I can only assume that these young men are products of this unfortunate non-teaching method. How else to explain their apparent belief that a colour (or a bag) could be gay? But when I thought about it, I realized that I had actually heard something similar before. Not about orange, perhaps, but maybe about pink, and definitely about purple. It’s bizarre. They’re colours. I am 99% confident that colours do not have sexual preferences.
Here is what I wanted to say to them:
NOSY LADY ON THE BUS: Can I help you guys with this one?
JOKER: Um, I guess.
NOSY LADY ON THE BUS: Orange isn’t gay.
NOSY LADY ON THE BUS: Colours aren’t gay because they are colours. Bags aren’t gay either. They can’t be. In fact, there’s only one thing you guys can have that is gay, and that’s sex with another man. Otherwise? Not gay. So go enjoy your orange bag.
I didn’t really say it even though I thought it. I don’t generally initiate conversations on the bus. So I thought I’d share it with you instead, dear readers, in case any of you were in any way confused about the gayness of your favourite colour.