New York City is the most interesting place I have ever visited. A hot pot of basically every culture and social trend on planet Earth, it’s a city that celebrates uniqueness and prides itself on being weird (they literally have cafés with separate dog menus). I loved New York; it was delightful, and chic, and oh-so-trendy. The reason I loved New York wasn’t because it made me feel like a special little snowflake. Quite the opposite in fact.
I liked New York because it made me feel completely, gloriously average.
Feeling average is a luxury I have rarely been afforded. Growing up gay in a country town with a population of about 2000 isn’t exactly conducive to a sense of belonging, as my year 12 English teacher would put it. Although Sydney proved to be a much more supportive environment, next to the Big Apple it is a little like comparing the cultural value of Canberra to Paris.
For example, I dare you to get through a single subway ride without spotting at least three gay couples – bonus points if you don’t see one with a miniature dog on their lap. Manhattan is basically one gigantic gay district, with gay-themed newspapers and advertisements plastered over every square block from Harlem to Soho. Never underestimate America’s dedication to enabling senseless consumerism.
When I arrived back in Sydney it was jarring how different I felt. Having put on some weight in America I was already feeling a little self conscious (to be fair, I was starting to look like a zip lock bag overstuffed with cottage cheese), but it was astounding how uncomfortable walking around areas of the Inner West holding another man’s hand made me feel. It was like I’d done something naughty, like showing up to work with a nose ring or a sleeve tattoo.
The point of the story is: I’m disappointed in myself for simply settling into a position as a slightly lesser person in our society. If any of you think I’m exaggerating, you’re more than welcome to head on out to New York or San Francisco and tell me that we treat the gays just as well here.