3 min

The freak will inherit the earth

Working in an all-hetero environment

Credit: Xtra West files.

Due to financial hardship, I was forced to resume gainful employment in the film industry last month. I have had to place a lot of important things aside to make room for 18-hour work days, not the least of which being the ability to work while naked.

I am also one of only two queers (that I know of) on my crew. I now exist in a completely dykeless environment, which might have sounded kind of appealing six weeks ago, but I now have a renewed appreciation for my community, as absence truly does make my heart grow fonder.

There are, on the other hand, some perks to an all-heterosexual environment; otherwise kind-of-lame lesbian jokes seem extra hilarious to straight people, like when you say “good enough for the girls I go out with” and they all laugh like they are hearing it for the first time. They laugh nervously though, unsure of whether politics will allow it; but since it originated from the mouth of a real live dyke, then it must be okay. I am drunk with politically incorrect power.

Conversation I overheard the other day over the walkie-talkie: “Is my radio working?”

“Your walkie is fine, but your voice still sounds like you’re a faggot.”

I turned to look at the offending lamp operator, and he blanched when he realized I had heard him. I said nothing, and he has spent the last three days telling me about how his mom is a dyke, and how well he still gets on with her ex-girlfriend. He is trying, in his way, to apologize, and I could take pity on him and let him off the hook, but I won’t.

The truth is I would really prefer he speak his homophobic thoughts out loud, which at least does me the service of providing me the option of calling him on his behaviour. I have always preferred to fight the devils I can see and hear.

There is also, as always for me, a twist: a lot of the people I work with think I am a guy, at least at first. I have learned to never assume who is going to think what, as there are too many unknown variables at work, such as how many dykes has this guy met, will I speak during our interaction or not, and how much raingear am I wearing? One can never tell.

One of the guys who drives my props truck definitely thinks I’m male, because he says things like: “How long till you’re all locked up, buddy? Take your time, brother,” while the other driver says, “Just leave that tailgate for me to deal with, ladies, and you drive safely, you hear?”

Both are endearing in their own ways. Sometimes, driving home, I wonder if I am ethically obligated to correct someone, and then I ask myself which Teamster is more mistaken and what then would I have him call me exactly? I just smile and try to remember everyone’s name.

We had an actor in yesterday, an attractive woman in her late 40s maybe, playing a cougar in a biker bar trying to pick up one of our young buff heroes. She succeeds, and eventually fucks him up the ass in a tired motel, in a scene which we will shoot in a couple of weeks.

She caught me staring for a little too long at her lace-up leather come-fuck-me boots.

“What are you gawking at, junior?” she barked at me, from deep within her character.

“You have obviously mistaken me for a pre-pubescent props boy,” I whispered to her while I poured de-alcoholized beer into her lipstick-stained glass between takes. “But really I am a lesbian, quickly approaching middle age.” I winked at her. “But I still like your boots.”

I know my use of the word lesbian in reference to myself is alarming and out of character, but in the straight world I am afforded few alternatives. There are scarcely enough labels or pronouns to wrap around myself in the queer vernacular, and I am not about to engage in a complex discussion of my nebulous gender identity with the gaffer between lighting set-ups.

Instead, I try to be as nice as I can to everyone and pretend that I am nothing out of the ordinary. I can tell the wardrobe lady knows I’m packing, as it is her job to notice things like that: she’s a professional. But she’s cool.

Besides, I remind myself, they’re all film people: people not known for their conservatism, or their strict adherence to societal guidelines. They are all artists too, I tell myself. They are friends with so and so, the set decorator, and what’s-his-name, the hair guy. They make believe all day, for money. What is one more homo to them? They’re all good people. My alienation is self-induced and does not accurately reflect the attitudes of those I work with, I tell myself.

What is normal, anyway?

So, I get up every morning, select a clean cheesy polyester shirt, and slip into my good, brown boots. Never let work get in the way of the right outfit, I believe. I will not let my hair grow out. I will not let my natural desire to belong somewhere allow me to change myself. I will never be accepted by the mainstream, and I am okay with that. The freak will inherit the earth. I do not need a brand new car.

I will continue to fight the good fight, for weirdos everywhere. I will only be myself.

I can only be myself.