Friday, May 14, 2010
Sometimes I like to sit and watch what's going on around me. The other day I was casually people-watching at a bus stop in Boystown (why Boystown? I don't know.), when I noticed a guy walking a dog down Broadway. It was a seemingly happy chow chow. But it suddenly began to bark ferociously at a couple of guys who were holding hands as they walked, frightening the partners who clutched at each other with wide eyes and clenched teeth. The dog walker restrained his animal by pulling tightly on the leash, and apologized to the two men. They quickly waved it off with limp wrists and continued on their way.
I don't know what caused the dog to bark like that, but I decided to follow it around for a bit. It passed by a few more people: groups of friends, some women, bicyclists, children--but no more barking. Until, a man in sunglasses came walking toward it with a cell phone in his hand. Again, the dog lunged towards him, barking and snarling. The man's reaction was similar to that of the previous couple, only this man had no boyfriend's shoulder to clutch at. He just brought his elbows together while covering his clenched teeth with his wrists. Then he yelled "Oh gawd!" with a laughably stereotypical lisp. The dog continued barking as the walker apologized and tried to pull him along down the sidewalk.
We've heard about the dogs who growl at black people. The racist dogs who are taught by their owners to hate what their masters hate. Is it possible that the same thing can happen to dog owners who struggle with homophobia? Can a person who hates gay people pass it off onto his pooch? If this walk down Broadway was any indication, then yes. Dogs can be homophobic too.
But who was the owner of this chow chow bigot? This walker looked to be in his early 20s, wearing an old Cubs cap and American Eagle polo. But he looked more like a DePaul student than anything. Perhaps he just walked dogs to make some extra cash between classes. Was he a homophobe? Or just the dog-walker?
So I decided to talk to him, "Hi, what kind of dog is this?" I asked as we waited at the stop light for the walk signal. "It's a chow." he responded.
"Beautiful dog. Can I pet him?"
"Yeah, he seems fine with you."
An interesting response... but I knelt down and rubbed the dog's head. "Yoor such a good boyyy! Yes yoo ahrrr!"
The dog didn't bark at all. It even appeared to have a smile on its face. But after they began walking again, I stopped a few steps back and hid behind an alleyway to see if the dog would attack anyone again. And sure enough... This time, the victim was a muscular man wearing a dress and high heels. An easy target for this monstrous, anti-gay beast.
So it all begged the question: did this dog have gaydar?
I decided to try one last experiment. I ran over to the parallel sidewalk on the other side of Broadway and started jogging ahead of the dog and his walker. Once I was about a block ahead of them, I crossed back over to the other side and strutted towards the oncoming chow. I swung my hips. I kept one elbow bent up and let my hand hang loosely. This would be it. If the dog barked at me, surely it would mean that the owner is a homophobe. But then I was interrupted by a man in a tank top. "Hey baby, which way you headin'?"
"Uhhh, I'm not interested..."
"Well I'm interested. Mind if I join you?"
"I'm not gay."
"Uhmmm. What do you mean?"
"I'm just trying to see if this dog attacks me for being flamboyant. Sorry to confuse you."
He stopped talking to me and turned around to walk the other way. I felt rude, but this was an important moment and I couldn't let myself get distracted. The dog was a few steps away from me, and I was pursing my lips and crossing my legs with each step. After we passed each other, I turned around with drooping shoulders to look at the dog. It hadn't even looked at me. It just kept walking without a single woof. But as soon as it reached the next stoplight, the man in the tank top who had approached me just moments prior was also waiting to cross. The dog looked up at him, and then bit him in the leg.
Maybe he could tell that I was faking. But the thing I just can't figure out, is why this bigoted dog was being walked through Boystown in the first place.