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A room full of stereotypes
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

"If they aren't sure which office is ours," Ken said, nudging the back of my chair annoyingly, "we'll just tell them to look for the four huge guys and the dwarf, eh?"

"Dwarf?" I thought to myself angrily. I'm relatively short - 5' 6" and some change - and he was referring to me. I didn't respond, just like I didn't respond to the previous few jocular insults that were thrown my way. Why is it that straight guys think any man who controls his dimensions around the middle is somehow less than a man?

I work in a tiny, 10-by-9-foot office with four grown straight men, a working environment I find it best to handle by being absolutely quiet and keeping to myself. Of our group, I am the only Gay, non-married one, and owing to the overly hetero, lowbrow feel of the place, I haven't let on that I'm different.

Since starting this job, I feel like I'm right back in the Army or school. Within a week of starting, I could feel all the distaste and distrust of all straight guys come flooding right back, bubbling up into a familiar resentment of the over-machismo stickiness of it all. Even with an iPod blaring as far as I can get it to go, the low points of heterosexual male conversation in our office inevitably manage to reach new lows.

"I didn't pay any attention to anything but girls in college," Charlie laughed loudly, bouncing a ball off the wall while he explained something I didn't want to hear to someone I didn't want to meet behind me. I rolled my eyes behind closed eyelids. Why is it that straight guys think that it's so great to be the village idiot, unable to focus on anything but boobies?

I tell myself it isn't forever.

As far as stereotypes go, Charlie is the epitome of American Straight Man-ness. He is quite large and shapeless, but insists that his wife (and all women) be very thin and perfectly shaped. Every day he is draped in a sports jersey, although he is clearly inclined to considerably less sporty pursuits. His desk is adorned with plaques and neon-lit signs pronouncing his favorite manly beers. Above all, he is the quickest to pronounce anything or anyone that falls outside of his well-defined standards for manliness to be "too soft," "not quite right," or "strange."

Through this distasteful work environment, I have found my tolerance wearing thin. I've rediscovered that - in spite of all my liberal mantra about equality and progressive thinking - I am no more tolerant of many straight men than many straight men are of me. I am sometimes very heterophobic and I don't know if that will ever change.

"If she comes back by here again, tell her to sit on my lap," one of them says while the rest of them laugh. I turn up my iPod, hunkering down for the rest of the long day.

In a room full of by-the-book stereotypes about sexuality, it seems strange to me that it's the Gay guy who seems like the only normal one.

"Did she come back by yet?" a voice asked behind me.

Again, I didn't respond.

Beau Burriola is a local Queer writer patiently waiting for the homosexual uprising that will make it no longer a straight man's world.

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