There was no way I was going to wear the skirt. It was Friday night in Bupyeong, and I stood in the corner of Who’s Bar, holding the skirt in a black plastic bag. The night before I was totally open to the idea; in fact, I even went out of my way to ask a friend to let me borrow a skirt. Since this was the “No Pants Party,” wearing a skirt seemed like a logical move, sort of like how I would wear a diaper to a “No Underwear Party.” But in the heat of the moment I couldn’t go through with it. The visual of my hairy chicken legs descending from the bottom of an otherwise sexy skirt made me shutter. The skirt would stay in the bag and, despite the theme, the pants would stay on.
“Put on the skirt,” one of my gay friends said to me in an alarmingly serious tone.
“Can’t do it,” I said, defeated. “I just can’t do it.”
“Fag!” he shouted in my face. “You’re such a fag! You need to be more gay.”
I didn’t know how to respond. “Excuse me – I find that word highly offensive.”
He shook his head and walked away. Without knowing it, though, he had raised a valid point. I had been a fag lately when it came to being gay. Let me try to clear that sentence up. I consider myself to be a liberal, open minded straight person, especially when it comes to supporting those who play for the other team. I support gay marriage and have seen an episode of Glee. However, in the last few months, my homocceptance seems to have gone down. Homocceptance is a term I invented after determining that there really is no word to act as the opposite of homophobia. To me, it goes beyond just supporting gay rights – it’s having such a comfort with homosexuality that one is not afraid to be associated with it. If some meathead jock calls you a “fag,” you shrug because it’s not an insult. A homoccepting person isn’t afraid to hug another man or own Brokeback Mountain on Blu-ray.
Or wear a skirt.
The skirt, though, isn’t the only example that has sprung up recently. Last weekend, a female friend of mine asked me to go with her to an area in Itaewon known as “Homo Hill.” I declined the offer. Similarly, I’ve had a strange desire lately to read the book Eat. Pray. Love. Perhaps this is because a lot of expat/backpacker women relate to it, which has led me to the idea of writing a similar book from the male perspective – only mine would be titled Smoke. Drink. Rejection. It maybe wouldn’t be as uplifting. Anyways, I picked a copy of Eat. Pray. Love. up off the shelf at a used bookstore but then, inexplicably, could not bring myself to purchase it. I couldn’t face the cashier. It was like I was buying a twelve inch dildo or something. Ashamed of myself, I put Eat. Pray. Love. back on the shelf and bought a book about baseball.
I wonder if being in Korea has something to do with this. Korea is a funny place. Gay marriage is illegal, gays in the military are classified as having a “personality disorder,” and homosexuality in general is frowned upon. At the same time, the men here are really feminine and constantly touching each other. For a year I worked at an all boys’ public high school, and sometimes it seemed like I was in Greenwich Village in the ‘80s. In class, boys would sit on each others’ laps and bounce up and down. Boys walked down the hallway with their arms around each other and would rest their heads on each others’ shoulders. One time I walked down the hallway and came across two boys “wrestling” on the floor. They were both laughing. One had the other pinned down and was spanking him softly. On his penis.
I wanted to walk up and say, “Dude, you’re spanking the WRONG SIDE. You’re supposed to spank someone’s backside. Not their front side, silly! You’re doing a reverse spank! Flip him over and spank him the way a boy is supposed to be spanked!”
Instead I just casually looked at them and kept walking. Out in public, I’m constantly surrounded by girly guys in makeup and skinny jeans. It seems like two-thirds of the men in Korea spend more time getting ready to go out than Rupaul. (On a sidenote, I think there should be some kind of de facto law that Rupaul must never, ever, be seen NOT in drag. It’s worse than Kiss without makeup.) I look at celebrities like G-Dragon and the men on the sign for the Red Model Bar and I’m bewildered.
They must ALL be gay, I say to myself. But they can’t be. Or it shouldn’t matter. What does it matter? Who am I, Jerry Fallwell? It’s cool, it’s cool. Maybe I wouldn’t look that bad in a skirt.
Life can get confusing for a homoccepting man. Then again, maybe I just want to be homoccepting and I haven’t fully arrived yet. I mean, I was raised by a father who told him I had to beat him at arm wrestling to be a “real man” and who wouldn’t let me use shampoo with conditioner because it’s “for girls.” So I have a lot of making up to do. One day, I’ll have my coming out party. G-Dragon and I will emerge from the closet together, arm in arm, and make no announcement whatsoever. We’ll just let people think.