It’s finally beginning to feel like summer here on the reservation. As I write this, it is the weekend of the Nashville Pride festival and I’m not feeling particularly proud, or gay for that matter. Menz in shorts and t-shirts? Pride festivals? Sex & the City opening at theaters? … and I’m not feelin’ it?

What?! The hell, you say?! No way!!

This weekend marks an entire year since I moved home. I know I’ve mentioned this but it seems here that my identity is more based on my family and my relationships at work than anything else. No pride festivals here. And I have no problem with that, I don’t think.

People ask me how my community here on the Indian reservation reacts to gay people. I think “ambivalence” is the best word to describe it. To my eyes there are more lesbians than there are gay menz here, but that may seem that way because they’re coupled up (no surprise) and just the work of dividing them out into individuals makes them seem more plentiful. Or perhaps it’s because they’re more visible, because they’re always with each other (again, no surprise).

We are – in its most simple form – country-folk, so there are some moments of unintended ignorance that I learn to live with. Just yesterday my mom was recounting a conversation she had with some guy who referred to “a couple dykes” he knows who have kids. The conversation had something to do, primarily, with kids.

My jaw dropped to the floor while my mom, too busy, too frightened she’d forget the rest of the story (no surprise) just kept on talking. I had to remind her that’s one of those words that only a few people are allowed to use … and that none of them are her or the guy she was talking to.

Strange thing, of course, is that it was harmless. I guess we live in a world where you can say what you want, as long as you’ve qualified yourself in some way.

Nah, that doesn’t sound right to me, either.

What with all the trouble my brother’s got into this past while I find myself meeting a lot of his friends now. Let me tell you this much: my brother and I don’t look alike. At all. He’s tall and not necessarily slender, but thin. Me? I’m not either of those things.

Because he’s lived here all his life, I’ve always had to introduce myself as “Clint’s brother” so it’s been funny lately when I say who I am. Every single time it’s to one of his friends, they each pull their head back, take a wider look, then say “YOU’RE Clint’s brother?!” All surprised.

“Yeah, I know! We’re like twins, right?!” That’s all I can say.

It’s a small community that I live in, so I get caught too sometimes talking to someone who hasn’t identified him or herself, who assumes that everyone knows who he or she is. In a lot of cases, I can correctly deduce who I’m talking to but it’s a strange thing, those assumptions, that I don’t recall so much when I lived in town. I know I never make the assumption someone already knows who I am.

So that makes it all the more surprising when folks do recognize me, say, during the workday. I think to myself, back when we last met, I was maybe a teenager and, well, I look a little different now. I don’t know. I suppose it’s partly my fault for boxing people in my memory and rarely letting them develop into the present. No assumptions on my part; I’m too busy talking myself out of them.

And sometimes there’s really no time to fit any gay in amid all this.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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