Hit or Miss

Home again.

Sitting in the airport, waiting 2 extra hours for my connection to Chattanooga to board (while the desk workers wouldn’t/couldn’t give us any updated information about the flight), reminded me why I don’t like to fly (though it still beat the 14 hour drive I would have made).

It’s been 4 years since I’ve last been in an airport (or around such a large mass of people). When did everyone get cell phones? I swear I counted more people with them than without them — everyone from grandmothers to 14 year old boys.

Even on the flight, after the attendents told everyone to turn off their electronic devices, passengers still whipped out their phones. One guy even received a call as we were landing (“Honey, the plane is touching down now…”) and proceeded to talk to her loudly as we taxied to the terminal, while I continued to grip the armrests of my seat, hoping he wasn’t interupting our plane’s radio signals to the tower.

Otherwise, I was struck with an erie sense of deja vu. I started flying when I entered college, about the same time I was coming to terms with being gay. Whenever I sat in the terminal during a layover — usually the commuter flight terminal in Cincinnati, where I was yesterday — I would speculate on which people sitting in the rows of chairs in front of me were queer, hoping to spot a kindred spirit and reassuring myself that I was not alone in the world. But I only traveled during the holidays, so I was typically surrounded by families and couples. Every so often I’d pick out the man with the the overuse of styling gel or the woman with the short, spikey buzz cut. Otherwise, my gaydar was (and still is) nonexistant.

In the past 4 years since I last flew, it’s become even harder to pick out gay people. Maybe it’s because straight people have picked up on hairstyles and fashion sense pioneered by gays, or maybe it’s just that gay people are less outrageous and more a part of the mainstream now.

I look at myself and wonder if anyone would ever pick me out of a lineup as gay. I wore my dusty, old brown hiking boots, a pair of frayed cargo kakhis, and a thick, green plaid cotton shirt – the typical outfit I’ve always worn when flying. If it weren’t for my quick, furitive attempts to scope out guys across the terminal, I don’t think anyone would notice anything different about me at all.

And now begins the process of hiding my true self for the 2 weeks I’m at home. That’s right – I’m not out to my parents. I’m pretty embarrassed by it, especially since I work with students and encourage them to be truthful to their parents, but I can’t seem to force it out in the open myself. I’ve tried (through email), but they’ve never responded — so we just continue like nothing has changed.