Saturday, July 18, 2009
Bill and I have been treating ourselves the last week or so by frequenting a local dairy farm that offers fresh ice cream. The farm isn't located to far from where we live. The good part about it is that we don't have to travel down the traffic congested Route 1 into Lewes or Rehoboth to avail ourselves of this treat. Another positive thing is the ice cream is totally natural and thus tastes good and I don't have digestion problems as I so often do when I eat the usual artificially flavored,fructose sweetened and chemically laden overprice concoctions that pass for ice cream at the tourist traps in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. Perhaps the only downside is if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, we get a healthy whiff of cow poop while we're devouring our ice cream cones.
This evening we found another downside to patronizing an eatery off of the beaten summer tourist track. Good old homophobia. This was the first Saturday evening we went to the dairy farm ice cream stand. It was crowded with straight folk or at least what seemed like straight folk. Nary a same sex couple was to be seen. That wasn't a problem for me or Bill. In fact I didn't think too much of it until I was standing in line and saw that my line was being held up by a couple who were sampling ice cream flavors. First the girl would ask for a sample of one flavor while her boyfriend got a teaspoon of another flavor. Then they traded teaspoons. How cute. All this cutsie poo activity was going on while we were all waiting patiently in line. I could just imagine the reaction if Bill and I did that, especially her putting her spoon in his mouth and him putting his spoon in her mouth. For a couple of seconds I thought they were filming a commercial.
I got in another line before I went into saccharine overload. I didn't know how long the taste testing by the Cute Couple was going to take. I order our ice cream; a double banana ice cream for Bill and a double vanilla for me. I get the ice cream cones (no taste test necessary) and return to our car. Since there were so many cars at the ice cream stand I asked Bill to hold my cone and I moved my car around the barn out of the way and parked it facing a pasture with picnic tables. Several families were seated at those tables with children playing on the ground. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting.
A few minutes later a SUV pulls up close to us. Three teenage couple pile out of the SUV. I hear one of the guys say "What's this?" looking at me and Bill sitting in our car enjoying our ice cream cones. Reality bites. Our peaceful summer evening entered a familiar place. What to do? How to respond? Well, here is my choice. I could respond thus giving Mr. Teenage Macho a reason to impress his girlfriend or ask Bill to hold my cone while I started my car up and drove home. I chose the latter. I backed the car up and got out of there. I really wasn't up for a confrontation this evening. Besides, where would it have gotten me except to give some teenage kid a chance to impress his girl friend and buddies? I just didn't want to go there this evening.
Actually, tonight was my mistake on two counts. First I should not have went out on a lovely summer night on Saturday. I should have known it would be crowded. Bill and I don't like crowds. Secondly, I had let myself be lulled into complacency into thinking that homophobia didn't exist anymore or was so minimal that it didn't matter since moving to lower Delaware. Homophobia In the Milton/Lewes/Rehoboth Beach area, no matter how subtle, is considered bad form and generally not practiced. However, once one is on the other side of Route 1 (west) into the real Sussex County (read "rural"), then we're talking another whole ball game. It was the political representatives of this is the area of Sussex County that contributed greatly to the 10 year delay of the anti-discrimination bill in Delaware. We gays (and lesbians) tend to think that Sussex County is enlightened towards their GLBT neighbors but we have to remember that is only on the east side of Route 1 with a little spillover to the west side of Route 1. Most of the rest of Sussex County is as redneck as any other area of the south. We tend to forget that sometimes. This evening I was rudely reminded of the shallow waters of same sex couple acceptance by all areas of Sussex County.
A few weeks ago Delaware finally passed the anti-discrimination bill.
Unfortunately the passage of such a bill doesn't end homophobia. Especially at an ice cream stand in the pastoral farmland of rural Sussex County on a warm summer's evening.