Through These Eyes: Letter from Indianapolis


I have no idea what the hell an 8-count is.

I mean, I know it’s a dance thing, but I don’t understand how the counts match with the movement. And what’s the difference between an 8-count and a 16-count and a whatever count? Does that mean I can make up whatever count I want?

I was schooled in the nuances of the 8-count hour after butt-numbing hour on high school gymnasium bleachers recently–in a town I bet you’ve never heard of: Brazil, Indiana. My best friend, Jeffrey, is a color guard instructor there.

When I wasn’t watching Jeffrey drill the girls of Brazil’s high school color guard (for the record, he’s kind of amazing at what he does), we were in Indianapolis (about an hour away from Brazil) doing what we do best: going out.

On night one of my four-day adventure, as I introduced myself to several people at a house party, one guy asks me in an obvious ready-to-attack tone, “Where are you from?”

“Minneapolis,” I say brightly. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he responds. I loathe condescending people.

I could be an ass back to him, but I’m not. I’m not that kinda guy. I just so happen to love Minneapolis, though, and I’m not about to let him mangle Minneapolis in front of the other, socially competent party guests.

“Have you ever been before?” I ask and sip on my Red Bull-vodka. “No.”

“Well, I’m sure the guacamole you brought is delicious,” I say and end the conversation. I keep my assumptions about the unknown optimistic.The Ignorant’s thought process operates like this: (P1) This person is talking about something I’ve heard at least one negative thing about; (P2) I am not personally familiar with what this person is talking about; (P3) When I hear things that I’m unfamiliar with, I default to other people’s opinions, rather than learn more and craft my own; (C1) Therefore, I am blissfully ignorant douchebag.

OK OK, I made up the last part on my own. Sorry, the hypocrisy irks me.

It’s not necessarily the content that pissed me off. It was the principle: here is a gay man, asking not to be judged on his sexuality alone, ready to spit on anything he’s heard even one negative thing about, in an attempt to belittle another human being–to put me in my place, to make me certain I lived in an inferior town, for whatever inferior reason.

I suppose I should’ve engaged him more. Asked him what his peeve with Minneapolis was. Tried to sway his opinion. But his tone was clear: it wasn’t Minneapolis that irked him, it was me. The new kid who people were interested in talking to.

We all make judgments; I’m not saying that because we’re part of the GLBT community we can never make a baseless opinion–even a verbal one. I, for instance, hate salmon. Have I ever tried salmon? No. I just don’t like it. I don’t know why.

I’m not even against hypocrisy. Is it OK for you to cut me off on the highway? Hell no. But if I need to cut YOU off, well, it’s OK because I really, really need to.

What I’m suggesting–and this is for all of us: gay, straight, and everything in between– is that we stay away from unfounded judgments when they affect other people. These opinions matter. They hurt when we vocalize them. Opinions like these, from our powerful, albeit ignorant peers, keep us from marriage.

On a side note, other than my brief run-in with Hypo With a Side of Guac, my trip to Indianapolis (and Brazil) was great–met some wonderful people, learned about 8-counts, and partied in a surprisingly robust gay community. Take my opinion for what you will: it’s a great city. I’ll be back.

Other notes regarding Indianapolis:

1. Visit. It’s an incredible town.

2. Every gay man who lives there is named “Jeremy.” I met at least 5 of them.

3. Stay away from older women named “Jan.” I’m pretty sure I had a stalker. Just don’t risk it.

4. Eat at English Ivy’s. And get the chicken strips. Perfect hangover remedy.

5. But seriously. Visit. It’s an incredible town.

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