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"Excuse me, miss..." 

"Are you of a different persuasion?"

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Walking up to the bar, I was greeted by a gaggle of folks testing out their skill with a hula hoop, all at varying degrees of intoxication, but cordial and welcoming. I hadn't really spent much time at this bar, but I was meeting someone here, so I hadn't thought twice about whether or not I should go. Anyway, it was last call, so it was a nightcap and then home.  

I got a beer, sat down and was soon joined by the person I was there to meet. We had barely said hellos when a guy in his late 20s plopped himself into a chair at our table. No formality, no "Do you mind if I sit here?" Just one direct question.

"Are you of a different persuasion?"

"What?"  I didn't really know how to answer him.  I didn't even understand the question.

"You know, are you a lesbian?"

My jaw slackened and I started to say "what?" again when the other person at the table—who happened to be my girlfriend—caught wind of the conversation. She offered a quick tongue-lashing and the next thing we knew, that drunken dude was being ushered away by his overly apologetic friends.

They kept saying, "No, no, I'm cool with it. I have friends that are gay. I mean, I know people that are gay."

It didn't stop there, though. Not five minutes later we were joined by another fellow who asked me to "perform."

"By that do you mean you want me to dance the 'Boot Scootin' Boogie' on the bar?" I asked.

He tried another tack, more sly this time.  

"You're too pretty to be a lesbian ... right?"

We decided to leave our nightcaps unfinished. This was apparently not really "our kind of place." One more off-color comment on the way to the car by yet another person and we couldn't help but laugh. Maybe we had signs taped on our backs that read "Dyke." Maybe it was a full moon. Who knows?

A few days later, I realized that night on the town had turned into a rude awakening that left me with two things to say.

First, thank you to all of my family, friends, co-workers and cohorts who offer the acceptance and support that often makes me forget I might be of a "different persuasion."

Second, thank you to that dude at the bar who burst my bubble and made me realize that there's still work to be done.

For more on GLBT issues, see our Pink Triangle cover story, "Ordinary people".

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