Years ago, I stayed with an Assembly of God pastor in Michigan for a week, while I found a place to live in Dearborn. While there, hanging near a mosque (in the city with the highest concentration of Arabs and Muslims in North America), I blurted out, "Gay is good." To which he asked, "Are you gay." And I responded, "Yes."
Interesting story. Except none of it actually happened.
Sure, I stayed with the guy, but other than hanging out in front of the mosque, none of the rest of the conversation occurred. (I think I'd know if it had.) But I found out a year later that he was convinced that it had, and was telling people in the Evangelical community of my moral failings, and therefore I found it difficult to be involved in certain pursuits. When I confronted him on this mythical conversation, he was adamant that it had occurred, and further declared that he wouldn't want me being around his children, because I was gay.
It was to no avail that I and others pointed out that this would be a very strange conversation to have in front of a mosque, and that there was no reasonable segue for this conversation to have taken place. It took another six months after I found out to get the pastor to state he would no longer insist on the conversation. (He never admitted he'd made a mistake.) The most humorous part of the situation was that, though I think acts of homosexuality are immoral, I'm liberal, and so this was not a grave insult to me. I'd be far more insulted if he'd said I didn't love the poor well, or had attacked my commitment to justice towards people of colour. To be accused of being gay is not that serious, except for it keeping me from interacting with people because of the gossip.
That's the background I had when I decided to try out for Extra work in Hollywood. I signed up earlier today at a local agency, and while there, I dropped my phone on the carpet, and bent to pick it up. Evidently that is the wrong thing to do in LA.
A guy who had sidled up next to me immediately got fidgety, because I had bent down to pick up my phone. Evidently he presumed that I was making a move on him, only his only comment initially was, "Don't play that." When is asked him what he was talking about, he wanted to make it clear that he wasn't gay and didn't want me to make any moves on him. After a few moments I was able to let him know that he hadn't noticed the dropped phone or my picking it up. However, I was shocked, at this level of homophobia. Maybe it's coming from Seattle, but I just don't run into this utter fear of homosexuality. And at a Hollywood studio, no less! But one would think that was the end of it.
But no. A few minutes after that, he goes to talk with his friend on the other side of the room, and for the next minute he's talking and pointing at me nearly continuously. Naturally, when someone is pointing at you, you look at them. This made him uncomfortable, however, evidently, as he didn't want me to look at him when he was pointing at me and talking about me. He yelled across the room to not look at him, and that he was very definitely not gay.
To the knowing smiles throughout the room, I thought to myself, "Yes, we all get it. You want us all to think you are not gay."