yesterday on my ride home from work, i boarded the empty N train and sat down next to a seat that was occupied by the current issue of Advocate magazine — a magazine dedicated to gay-related issues. as my train ride progressed, the train grew more and more crowded, and still, the seat remained unoccupied by actual living flesh. people pushed their way through the crowd towards us (me and the mag) only to discover the seat was “taken”. others stared at it and then quickly looked away, as if to avoid the magazine catching their eye. no one wanted to touch it, no one wanted to move it and no one wanted to read it; and just as quickly as the train was moving, this little-gay-magazine-that-could began to represent society’s interpretation of its target audience: it could board your train — hell, it could even sit amongst you; but if you sat on it or showed any interest, it would instantaneously make you gay.
i found the environment to be an odd study in human psychology and social interaction. jokingly, and under my breath, i scorned the magazine for stealing our women (or men i suppose), taking over broadway and drinking from our water fountains. but as much as it was feared, it held an undeniable power over a train car packed with people too afraid to move what was essentially a stack of shiny paper.
then, jesus appeared; well, actually, he looked more like gandalf — but i considered him a “savior” of sorts, nonetheless. he appeared at the train doors at powell street station and the way the florescent lighting descanted uponst his own deformity made him seem so powerful and majestic. (by majestic i mean he had long white hair and a bright white beard; by deformity i mean he had a prosthetic leg). he hobbled his way towards me, and without hesitation picked up the magazine with his righteous hand and sat down. i half expected him to toss the magazine on the floor and damn the shark (which i conjectured had taken his leg back in the days when he was an avid surfer) for not robbing him of his hands as well; but instead, with such curiosity, he opened the magazine and began to read. such bravery, i thought; such nonchalance for the opinions of others. i quickly ordained him god of my new religion and prayed to him that his example would be replicated and admired.
and then, just when i thought the esteem i held for him could not be held any higher, the train stopped, the man stood, tucked the magazine under his arm and exited into oblivion.
inspired by every teen movie ever made, i began to clap. slowly at first, but then much faster. people looked at me — sure. but then they came to their senses and accepted the power of the statement that had been made: that we really do have nothing to fear, but fear itself. and in that moment, though all-too-brief, we were united. united as one, big, gay-loving group of strangers on a train, making our way home from work.