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I was at the bus stop when a Mexican woman and her daughter come over, too. She asks me if the bus still goes by Wal-hell down the street. I tell her, Yes. And shortly after that she starts telling her daughter that I am pretty and I look just like so-and-so. As the bus comes, she says to me, “You are so pretty. Really. I’m not gay or anything.”

She continues, “My daughters are always telling me to stop saying that to other women or they’ll think I’m gay but I just wanted to say you’re gorgeous.” Again– “I’m not gay or anything.”

My first response was “Thank you.”

The Mexican lady says something else and I assure her, “No, its okay.” I add, maybe unnecessarily, as the bus pulls up, “Some people might be offended by another woman saying they’re pretty but I’m not one of them”. She doesn’t say anything else and we all get on the bus.

Why are people so desperate to appear extra-straight? What’s wrong with telling another woman you think she’s pretty? I’ve never told anyone in my family that I don’t identify exactly as straight. They are very queerphobic. Yet I am still baffled and somewhat incensed by people’s desire to make sure NO ONE (all CAPS) thinks they’re gay. Even if you say it because your life is in danger from violent people, you might live another day by lying about it but aren’t you dying a slower death inside from lying about who you are anyway?

People’s desperate, crazed desire to avoid being labeled as gay or in anyway acknowledging of the same sex, be they queer or straight, is alarming. Its scary. I think less of the state of the world every time anything like this happens. Its disappointing.