I don’t know if you noticed, but yesterday’s column may have been a strained, stretching, rambling mess. It was genuine and honest, but really it was a creature of necessity. Sure, I was typing, but the deadline was dictating the whole time.
Today’s article is a piece I really want to write, that I think needs to be written, a piece that for the most part will write itself (with a little help from Tim Aten, of course).
I have a story to tell.
It starts in December at a pretty low-key, open-bar Karaoke event attended and destroyed by the StarCityGames staff. You might have heard about it. Anyway, Tim Aten doesn’t drink much or often. I know that the subtlety of my character building leaves much to be desired but this is only a daily. I have to practice an economy of words. Everyone else drinks heavily and revels. Tim revels, but more soberly.
Flash forward to GP Charlotte or Richmond or PT Hawaii, any one of the events where Tim and I lobbed witty hand grenades at each other and I giggled a lot. Maybe one of my grenades was liver than I thought. Mad live. Maybe Tim just felt like he needed to say something. Something like this:
“Let’s not go there, Billy. Or do I need to remind you who got a little too touchy-feely at the Karaoke night?”
Admittedly, I was drunk that night, so I asked around to see if I had done something I didn’t remember. Ted Knutson said I was in the clear, so it seemed reasonable to me to chalk up Tim’s comment to his own inexperience with drinking. See, drunk people talk with their hands and stand up straight with their hands and, well, do anything a sober person could do hands-free with their freaking hands.
I’d like to take a moment now to clarify something else. I’m not writing this column to get revenge on Tim; I think he’s righteous. Nor am I writing it to salvage my own heterosexual reputation. Honestly, it’s not something I consider worth worrying about. The last time someone thought I might be gay and held that against me, I relished the chance to play along and make him uncomfortable. I really thought it was just desserts for his close-mindedness. Besides, it’s not like I’ve never played “Spin the Bottle” in mixed company. I haven’t gotten to my point yet, but I don’t want you guys to get the wrong idea while I finish telling the story.
We jump ahead again. This time to Sunday night during GP Madison. There are eleven of us at the Macaroni Grill for a little dinner theater. The B-List cast includes a slumming Richie Hoaen, Ben Lundquist, Rodman, The President of my Fan Club Evan Dean, another Canadian, SWK, LCG, a couple of guys I can’t remember, and Tim Aten all playing themselves. I was playing the scene-stealing Sexually Ambiguous Guy.
At some point in the night, I start to tell them the story of the worst night I ever spent in Hawaii. I’m interrupted by Rich, who has his own WNIESiH story. Really, sounds like an awful night, Rich. My sympathies.
We start talking about Magic Cheaters, when Evan steps in and saves this article.
“Hey, Billy, you never finished telling us about your night.”
Thanks for caring, man.
Long story short, it’s about five in the morning and I’ve been wandering around downtown Honolulu barefoot for hours because the hotel I’d been staying at all week wouldn’t let me wait in the lobby for my roommates to get back from a night of celebration. I was a broken, desperate, blistered shell of a man. And I was ready to cry. I was so defeated that I briefly considered shacking up with a transvestite prostitute so I could have a place to sleep. That passes. And I head back to the hotel one last time.
This drunken local starts talking to me. He’s friendly enough and seems harmless. Then he tells me he likes to go down to the beach to look for couples having sex. He made the compelling argument that even if they don’t invite you to join them, you still get to watch. Sure, sure, I nod along.
“So you wanna come with me? It’ll be fun.”
Tim, who has grown increasingly incredulous, almost insists that I had no choice but to turn him down and head back to the hotel alone.*
“I took him up on it. We head down to the beach and unfortunately don’t find any copulating couples. He turns to me and says, “Oh, well. While we’re down here, I guess we should make the best of it.” I call his bluff and lean in for a kiss…”
And the conversation at the table just kind of stops. People ask what I just said. Tim tells me not to repeat it again. The mood is awkward. My attempt to break the silence:
“So I was curious…”
Get it? Curious.
Really, I was curious if anyone could think of any Pros in the history of the game who were openly gay. We couldn’t think of any one, any one at all. I mean, the Europeans all wear capris and Katsuhiro Mori carries a purse, but he also gets mad honeys.
The whole incident did raise some questions for me and I’d like to enlist your help in exploring them. After all, this is your community as much as it is mine. Here they are:
- Do you think the Magic community is particularly homophobic? At the Pro Tour level? Your local PTQ scene or IHOP playgroup?
- Does it make any sense that there isn’t some number of openly gay magic players?
- With the Pro Tour being such a public venue, is it reasonable to expect gay players to come out? Does it depend how hostile the community is to homosexuals?
- How do you feel about homosexuality?
- How do you think the Magic community at its various levels would react to a very visible Pro being gay?
I’m sure there are more questions, more avenues of discussion. Feel free to explore them all in the comments thread. I consider this issue important enough that I’ll actually sign up for a username so I can join in. For now though, the floor is yours.
*Of course, I turned down his invitation and went back to the hotel alone. And I had to tell Tim that over and over to make him feel more comfortable about my intentions towards him. But the truth of the story is so unimportant that it is relegated here, to the footnotes.