What comes to mind when you think of modern-day Manhattan? Aspiring actors trying to catch a break? Times Square with all its neon lights? The Statue of Liberty (actually in New Jersey waters)? Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big? Well, whatever it is you do think of, I'm certain that it's not of homophobes and people speaking in racial terms circa the 1950s.
Last week, in the span of a few hours, I had two people expose themselves to be narrow-minded disappointments.
1) A co-worker told me that she really likes San Francisco, but there are all these 'gay people in the downtown area.' It was just too much for her. And, that she could see living there, but not raising children there because she doesn't want her kids around 'all these gay people.' Of course, don't get her wrong because she has 'best friends who are gay.' This from a 33 year old woman living in NYC and working in Hell's Kitchen for the past ten years, one of the gayest areas in town.
2) A customer at the bar in his late-forties who is the father of two teen-age children, a (self-described) Jew, and, seemingly, intelligent guy, tells me about the new apartment building he's just moved into in Hell's Kitchen. It's really multi-ethnic, he mentions, as there are all sorts of people always in the elevator on his way in and out of the building. He's going down the litany of folk when I hear him say, 'Orientals. If one isn't talking about a rug or a vase and if one isn't British (they still use that word there), then this term doesn't apply.
I suppose referring to Asians as Orientals may not be construed by some people as offensive as talking about how 'gays' will pollute a young child's mind, but it turned me off to the customer who said it in a really big way. If he says that, then what other sort of bullshit, outdated terminology does he reserve for people of other ethnic backgrounds? Oh, and I know he's Jewish because he made some horrible joke of feeling the need to flee once I and another German-speaking patron began chatting auf Deutsch. Hahaha....no.