Friday, December 10, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: I Hate Gay

There is an audio edition of this monologue. If you'd like to listen click the triangle on the left to begin streaming audio, or click this text to download the MP3.

Today, I hate gay. I hate people who are gay, people who might be, people who aren’t, and people who hate people who are. I hate the whole of it. I hate that when my best friend and I walked downtown chatting for two hours, people suspected things. I hate whoever threw the brick. I hate the protesters outside the hospital. I hate the counter-protesters who claim to support him and are chanting his last name wrong. I hate that they won’t leave him alone. I hate that blogs keep posting cell-phone pictures of his mangled forehead. I hate that he’ll have to wear a hat to cover the scar any time he goes outside. I hate that he’ll find a way to make it fashionable. I hate that “elective cosmetic surgery” isn’t covered by his insurance.

I hate that when I went to his apartment to get his stuff, people tried to encourage me. I hate that they told me to be brave, and to be there for him. I hated it because who were they to tell me to be there for my friend? I hated it because their sincere emotional advice referred to a relationship they only imagined I had.

And I hate the little old lady who scowled at me through the crack in her door, safety chain still hooked, busy hating me for another imaginary relationship. And I hate all the neutral faces that stared at me like, “Does he belong in my apartment building?” and “Is he gay?” and “Am I okay with that?” I hate them all and their crappy floral wallpaper.

On the drive back to the hospital, I hate all the pedestrians who don’t look at me or my car or in my direction. I hate everyone who doesn’t know, who isn’t preoccupied with this. I would hate them if they were looking, and I hate that they aren’t. I hate that they’re getting on with their lives, and that many of them have nothing to get on from because they don’t know, don’t care, have a club somewhere to look impressive at.

I hate the radio. I hate callers blaming religion, blaming my God Who is Love for people hating people who like people who are different from the people that they like. I hate callers blaming my evolution, blaming natural selection wiring our brains to be disgusted at someone not being disgusted at things that disgust us. I hate the host blaming my country, blaming a culture that enshrines free speech, allows rainbow marches, and pays for the public radio that introduced me to The Village People. I like The Village People.

Pulling into the parking lot, weaving amongst protesters and counter-protesters, I hate whichever amendment lets interlopers gather in groups. I hate that hateful people know what gay is. I hate that they’re not gay. I hate somebody’s sign saying you’re born that way, accusing your genes. I hate somebody else’s sign saying it’s a choice, and gays made the wrong one. I hate that either of those things would matter.

I hate that it rained. I hate that the box broke and his shirts fell on the sidewalk. I hate that none of those people helped me, and I’d hate if somebody offered. I hate that my friend is going to laugh at these dirty shirts in the context of all possible Bad News For the Day. I hate that I wasn’t the one who was hit.

I hate the crowds outside, and the journalists in the waiting room, and the three people in the elevator. I hate that I didn’t see who that fuck was when he threw the brick, and I hate each of them for possibly being him. I hate that I’ll walk around this city for at least another three years, potentially passing him every day, and never knowing that I could have caught him and beat his face in. I hate that I’ll blindly suspect people just like he did, and just like he did, I’ll almost always be wrong.

I hate that he’s watching cute cartoons and doesn’t have to scramble to turn them off when I come in. I hate the unguarded tone he uses on the phone with his mom. I hate that the half of his face that’s showing is smiling in assurance to a mother who can’t see him. I hate that she’d call when he needs rest. I hate his God-damned mother. What is wrong with me?

I hate the way he flaps his hand for me to set the box down and take a load off. And sitting there, waiting for my friend to need anything, I hate. I hate what others would say this means about me, or my feelings about him, or what our relationship secretly is in their minds and in none of our experience. In some way I hate myself, but mostly I don’t. I hate the things that make me hate. I don’t hate myself, not until he catches on and actually tries to comfort, reaches out from the bed and pats my wrist and asks if “You’re taking care of you.”

And what do you do there?


  1. Sounds like you guy here just may have a FALLING DOWN moment... Great read and really biting piece. Well done.

  2. Totally agree with the comment above, this poor guy sounds like he's at the end of his tether. There is a hell of a lot of hate in there.

    Very powerful and thought provoking piece.

  3. This is so strong John, incisive, insightful, extremely emotive. So very well written.

  4. There's a lot of pointless hate in there, and that itself is a point, isn't it.

    Extremely well done, John.

  5. This is an incredibly strong and well-written story. I love the rage, but more importantly, the underlying message is powerful and biting across so many levels. A great commentary on society, impressions we have/make of others, and false assumptions. Well done!

  6. I love the fact that the only thing he likes is the Village People (a laugh out loud moment in a very sombre reading). Didn't hate it at all. Loved it!

  7. It is an incredibly raw and helpless feeling when others are judging you incorrectly. That anguish is multiplied to almost unbearable levels when the judgement happens as you are standing up for a friend (who is also being harshly judged). Some things haven't changed since grade school. People are still mean.

  8. I wish there was a place to nominate your spoken word pieces -- this deserves an Audie in my opinion but then again, you know I'm biased. Powerful and thought provoking.

  9. Bubbling, boiling, righteous rage where somebody really needs strangling but you just cant figure out who.

  10. Hate born of so much pain, and ultimately out of love and friendship. This guy needs help and he probably wouldn't be able to accept it. Powerful story.

  11. Perversely I found the character quite funny, pictured him as a cartoon character wandering through various scenes constantly muttering to himself.

  12. My best friend is actually a gay man, and if something like this ever happened to him, I might do murder. But then, it's not even about who someone is, it's about blind prejudice and all the joy that's ever brought to the world.

    Splendid, say-it-like-it-is, powerful and timely piece, John.

  13. Wow, John. That was awesome. The helpless feelings we get when there's nothing we can do change the ignorance and intolerance of others. I loved everything about this piece.

  14. I hate this piece, and any one who likes it. I also hate the people who hate it and haven't even read it. I hate the lot of them.

  15. Lots of hate here. Love (or do I hate?) how it bounces all over every issue brought up. Well done!

  16. This is incredibly cool and biting. I love the rambling. You stay committed to your essence here and it works. I pictured the character almost immediately ranting and ranting. Nice job.

  17. This packs such an emotional punch. Bravo.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  18. Well I, personally, hate judgmental people, which means I really like this powerful piece John. Very strong!
    I can certainly understand why this was so difficult to write.

  19. Um, OK? Nobody gives a shit. Go cry in your beer.

  20. Few things I've ever posted so made me want to write an artist's statement. So I'm not going to. But thanks for all the responses, folks. I'll try to get back to each person...

    Anthony, I've got to admit some cultural ignorance here. What is 'Falling Down?' To Google I go...

    Rebecca, yes, he is definitely slipping down.

    Steve and Kevin, it took a lot of edits to even get decent at half of those things. I appreciate your praise a lot.

    Laurita, it probably is the point. This is a theme that will show back up in later posts.

    Cathy, I couldn't help it. I like The Village People, too.

    Tiffany, it sticks in you so easily, doesn't it? Can be impossible to get out.

    Cassie, thank you very much! It took several practices to record. I was actually recovering from having lost my voice, and it was a rough enough one to begin with. If anybody knows a portal for recordings, I'd be happy to drop it there...

    Harry, and he'll never know. Does that change whether something needs it?

    Janet, what sort of help do you think would work on him?

    Adam Keeper, like an angry Magoo? This is a rare case where I was distinctly working away from any cartoony-ness, so I am worried - did it hurt your reading?

    Gracie, I have several very dear friends who are gay. I really don't know how I'd react if one were the victim of a hate crime. I like to think I wouldn't go into blind rage, but it's very possible.

    Danni, I guess an emoticon reaction would be pretty wrong for this one, but thank you for your kind words!

    Michael, hate to you as well! And a merry Hatemas.

    Eric Krause, after a couple drafts I became concerned that it stretches too far across the issues. Do you think it survives that?

    Julio, welcome to the #fridayflash community. Glad you're enjoying it so far.

    Adam Byatt, did a particular part pack that punch?

    Deanna, it's difficult to escape committing judgment, even judging people who judge. Thanks for the sympathy...

    And to Mr. You Suck, thank you for the advice, but I don't drink.

  21. Did I say Magoo, that was totally who I was thinking of! no it was all the better for it.

  22. Yeah, I didn't think a hater face emoticon would really work so well on this one. Sorry I left that out.

    As for YouSuck, well, yes, you do suck. (not you, John, YouSuck sucks, not sucks you....oh nevermind)

  23. Sometimes hate is all that can keep you going in a difficult situation.

  24. The mood or flavor of this piece is a little hard to gauge. It's funny that the only thing he admits to liking is the Village people. At first it seems that the swirling hatred is so over the top that it somehow makes fun of a guy throwing a tantrum. But then things like

    "I hate somebody’s sign saying you’re born that way, accusing your genes. I hate somebody else’s sign saying it’s a choice, and gays made the wrong one. I hate that either of those things would matter."

    are very thought -provoking. Does love need a justification? If two men or two women love each other, then "what do you do there?" It is its own justification.

    Once I was walking down Duval Street in Key West and a pickup truck full of rednecks threw beer bottles at me. I guess they assumed I was gay because I was on Duval Street. What does that have to do with anything? Dunno.

  25. You obviously hit a strong emotional cord with someone if they're cowardly enough to leave an anonymous flame on your story!

    Honestly, I think this is one of your best pieces I've read, mainly because the emotion is so strong here. I'd like to believe that deep down we all feel like this on some level. If anyone hurt any of my friends for any reason, you can bet I would be angry at the world period.

    This piece feels so real, almost more like someone's diary entry than a piece of fiction. Great job.

    Normally I'm not big on constant repetition, but that's what makes it feel so real - it's like the stream of consciousness just can't let go of it. We all tend to linger on things that make us so deeply angry. Words never feel like enough.

  26. Thought-provoking and timely. One of the great things about the Internet is the ability for fiction to play with the discussion of current events.

    I like hate the overuse of hate. It creates an interesting reverberation throughout the piece that interferes without self sometimes washing itself out and sometimes growing in power.

  27. NOTE: my silliness with using hate/like and strikeouts didn't come cleanly through the HTML parser, I should have previewed.

  28. Icy, did it read like he was being propped up by the hate? I think I can see that...

    Mark, to me, love doesn't need a justification. Whether it does to our narrator, I'd leave up to you. I'm sorry it seemed uneven, even tonally so, for you. Far sorrier that you were the victim of that kind of crap. Makes me ashamed of my fellow man (and woman).

    Joanie, the anonymous flame doesn't bother me. He/she/it/they responded to it as though it's non-fiction, and possibly like he/she/it/they didn't read past the first few sentences. I do appreciate your long and thoughtful response. It's more thin-plotted realism than I usually go for, so I'm glad it reads 'real' to you.

    Aidan, I actually tried to avoid timeliness with this. I began working on it during that terrible string of teen suicides, then postponed it to avoid exploitation. I think it got a little better from waiting an editing. I hope it did.

  29. Fabulous read. Congratulations, John.

  30. Wow, John, very intense. So captures the frustration of the hate that seems so prevalent these days. This is like a language maze, twisting and turning, but always leading towards the truth. This one really struck me:

    I hate callers blaming my evolution, blaming natural selection wiring our brains to be disgusted at someone not being disgusted at things that disgust us.

    Terrific stuff.

  31. Intense. Through-provoking. You totally make us feel the awefulness of the man's situation, and the full force of his bitterness and anger.

  32. A brilliant, heartfelt embrace of hate. Incredibly sad.

  33. Great use of stream of consciousness writing. Through the characters thoughts we get to know him, understand him and the world he is living/dealing with. It makes the reader feel connected to the MC.

  34. Wow, John, this story cuts to the character's core in such a way that it makes me jealous. "I hate that I wasn’t the one who was hit." At that point, I wasn't sure if he wanted to take away his friend's pain or sudden glory. Isn't it weird in a way how some event like this can catapult a person from obscurity to being a celebrity? And what's not to hate about people who didn't care about you at all, didn't even know your name, until they could use you, for good or bad, to serve their own purposes? This piece is right on.

  35. This is such a strong and evocative piece. Well done.

  36. Powerful stuff. I read the words a couple of times, feeling this guy's rgae, then when you spoke it, even more effective.

    So this is how hatred spills over. Wonderful screed. One of your best. Peace...

  37. John, I appreciate that you have to Google Falling Down. Great movie--one of my all time favorites. Michael Douglas' best performance in my opinion.

    I have been to some slam poetry nights and this would definitely win a prize. You are so talented that you can take this flood of emotions and stay with it and not seem to miss a single person, attitude--read or imagined, angle of thought and have the ability to introduce the Village People as the only positive thought running through the character's rambling.

    The only thing I hate about it is that I wasn't the one who wrote it! Kudos, John. This could be part of a script. Another movie to check out is Dog Day Afternoon where Al Pacino expresses himself in hysterical monologues during the bank robbery.

    This one will be a tough act to follow.

  38. Wow, this packs a punch. Great piece of stream of consciousness, catching the contradictions we all feel & exposing a lot of hypocrisy too. Great stuff.

  39. Thanks everyone who read, commented and shared this. You made it the most-read piece I've ever published on the Bathroom Monologues by a wide margin - over 1800 hits in two days. I'm bowled over by some of the responses.

    Jon, that paragraph is definitely the most maze-like. I wondered if people would trip over the repetition - glad you didn't, and didn't so much that it was your favorite.

    Ruchiraa, I'm now tempted to write next Friday about his friend going back to that street. I wonder if I could get away with the polar opposite, unbridled and unbeatable optimism mingled with ambivalence.

    Lara and Virginia, do you think it's stream of consciousness? It hadn't occurred to me, because he leaps from event to event. But if it's not true stream of consciousness, I definitely owe a debt to that school. The self-contradiction aspect was something I really wanted to jump on.

    Stephen, I tend to support the highly individual experience of fiction. Admire how you grabbed onto the placement of that line. Does he wish all the limelight was on him? I wonder how many other readers saw it that way. Thank you for sharing your interpretation.

    Linda, any particular spots you re-read?

    Susan, as soon as I saw the poster I realized what Anthony was talking about. Yes, I have seen Falling Down, and it is a great one from Douglas. I wonder how much further this guy will fall. Meanwhile, I haven't seen Dog Day Afternoon. Al Pacino flipping out has always been worth my time before. But before I move on, thanks for the contrast to slam poetry. I definitely took influence from the guts and presentation of certain poets, just to get myself into the mindset to read this without shrinking.

    Trevor, Tony and Tim, my T-squad! Thank you for stopping by, glad you folks liked it (or put up with the disturbance of it). The same to you, Gany/Catherine.

  40. Interesting, John. I reopened this to look at it again and the first thing that occurred to me was the very first word, "Today," and it changed everything for me. Suddenly I thought, I wonder what this guy will hate tomorrow. That opening was great and yet the piece was so intense that I completely forgot it. As you know, my favorite way to write is in 1st person and to capture a moment in time. By opening with that first word, that is exactly what you did. Even better the second time.

  41. I'm in tears as I read this again. I don't see it as a statement as much as this is how it feels when you've been through something this awful. Your emotions are just a swirl of so many things that you're almost blinded by them. I saw the righteous rage, but I also saw the humanity, because I think this man not only feels angry, but also hopeless, but he's in the moment and his wounds are still raw. Brilliant work, John.

  42. Only you could write a story with such a title, where nearly every sentence starts with "I hate", and make it such a beautiful piece. Yes, there's anger and helplessness, but at heart this is about a friend's love and loyalty. I found it very touching.

  43. Utterly stunning piece. I'll be sharing this around the internet.

  44. A great piece, John. I love it. Of course, I hate it, too. I hate that it's true. Don't think I've read a more powerful statement against homophobia. Thanks for turning up my thinking cap another ten or so degrees.

  45. Wow! I find myself without the words to describe how much I like this piece so I will borrow Carrie's, it is utterly stunning.

  46. Carrie left a message on facebook saying this had to be read... and she's right.

    Several things I really like about this John. Firstly it doesn't let 'hate' off the hook as a one dimensional feeling. This piece explored the complexities of hate and how once in the downward spiral it is hard to look at anything in an objective way - or to be released from the hold of hate.

    Secondly - the bit thrown in about The Village People was awesomely timed and shows how one poignant line can balance an entire piece (well in m opinion.)

    Thirdly - the pacing was perfect, I could actually hear it in my head but at the same time, get flashes of imagery... particularly liked the bottom falling out of the box and the shirt falling in the dirt.

    Gosh.. I could go on and on and how great this is. But instead, I shall post it to facebook and do as Carrie did, urge people to read it.

  47. This is an awesome piece, John. I think Icy has a point ... sometimes the right thing to do in the face of hatred is to turn the other cheek lest you get swept up in it. Just walk away. But other times, the only way to combat it is to hate right back. Otherwise, you're just a victim and by not objecting you've proven the haters right. Very thought-provoking stuff!

  48. intriguing rant. It reminds me of Ed Norton's rant on the film 25th hour except this guy is not excepting any compromises. I like how full this character is, how human. his humanness is shown in his contradictions and emotion. Matter of fact this character's emotional content is so overpowering that it undermines any intellectual say society may have about homosexuality.

  49. Very, very clever. I hate how clever it is. I hate that I didn't write it, before you did. I liked reading it, but I hate that I liked it so much.

  50. I love him for his love for his friend and The Village People.

  51. Very energetic post, I loved that a lot. Will there
    be a part 2?


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