2 min

Not my proudest moment

'I'm going to grab you by the collar and haul you back'

If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s line-butters, particularly gay ones.

Last year I had the opportunity to fly to Victoria Pride and stay in a fancy hotel. It was perfect. I was with great people and the event was more in keeping with the spirit of the movement than some of the bigger festivals.

After the parade I was separated from my posse by the urge to pee. The line was long and the closer I got to the front, the more I needed to go. I was one person away when a cigarette-smoking twink with a backpack tells the guy ahead of me, “I’m going to butt in front of you.”

“No, you’re not,” I say coolly.

“What are you going to do?” the twink asks. “Hit me?”

“No. I’m going to grab you by the collar and haul you back.”

He invades my space. His pupils are camouflaged by aviator glasses; I can smell smoke and alcohol on his breath. I’m dressed in a pair of blue, orange and white striped shorts accessorized by a plaid fedora and Jackie-O sunglasses. I look like a box of Skittles.

I stare him down, determined not to let the little tyrant spoil my weekend. A blue port-o-potty door swings open and the twink makes a break for it. My hand shoots out impulsively like a frog’s tongue and catches his backpack. He keeps running, unaware, until he’s snapped back like a dog at the end of its leash. The guy ahead of us beelines for the potty like Lot running from Gomorrah.

“My God,” I think. “I’ve killed him.” Mom was right: you can’t take me anywhere.

The twink dusts himself off and says, “I’m going after you then.”

“I don’t give a fuck what you do.”

Vein drained, I pray no one I’m with saw that. I feel so horrible, I abandon my search, check out of the hotel and take the first floatplane home.

It was a week before I confessed to anyone. “He deserved it,” I’m told. “You taught him a lesson.” Somehow I doubt that.

Gretchen Phillips, a gay folk singer, said recently, “I don’t want to pass the torch to Andrew Sullivan.” That’s how I felt about the twink: No torch for you!

What bugged me wasn’t his lack of respect for people but his lack of respect for me as his gay elder.

“I’m part of the reason you’re waiting in this line, bitch!” I should’ve said instead of nearly decapitating him.

Though I regret my handling of the situation, I was merely practicing what I learned from my predecessors in the face of adversity: stand your ground and never waiver.