Like a 3D painting, San Fernando shows more of its depth everytime I look at it. I was shocked when Friday's boxing event featured two designated “gay boxing” cards. Dressed in full drag, the combatants clearly had no formal training, but easily had the best time of the night. The crowd loved it.
A Lady Gaga impersonator came into the ring and did a dance during the intermission. The crowd loved that too. I was enjoying it as well, all the more so after the vice-mayor leaned over and asked me “Have you met him? He works for the city library”.
These are the outer layers of San Fernando's attitude toward its LGBTQ population.
Further down presents increasing shades of grey.
Locally known as “the gays,” the mayor refers to them as the “third sex”. Locals will casually remark “look, a gay!” in the same tone that one might exclaim, “look, an iguana!”
And just as everyone likes iguanas, enjoys having them around and goes to see them in zoos, so “gays” are generally liked, and 5000 people showed up to see them at the Miss Gay San Fernando Universe pageant.
But you wouldn't want to bring an iguana home to meet your parents, and you certainly wouldn't want to be one, no matter how much fun it is to watch them crawl around on stage. The “third sex” implies an equality which is not, in reality, more than a thin layer deep.
The crowd at the Miss Gay pageant seemed to feel that it's okay to enjoy such events, but only to a point; there was something in the volume of laughter that suggested a cautious distancing and perhaps an element of derision. It would appear that, for all of the superficial acceptance, gays, like iguanas, remain spectacle.
Which is too bad, because neither gays nor greys deserve to be lumped together.