Having just spent the better part of a week in Vegas, you might assume I have stories to (not) tell.
What happens in Vegas… meh.
I’ve written before that, for my own sake, I’m a big fan of monogamy. Still, I’m a sexual being, and I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t averse to a Vegas experience (but not one I had to pay for). For the record, I doubt I’d have written about it on a blog that’s largely not about my personal life, so don’t get too excited.
There were, in fact, multiple occasions during my time in Vegas that there was the potential for something to take place that was worthy of “staying in Vegas.” These kinds of situations happen all the time. The guys are cute, funny, and you’re buying each other drinks or whatnot… things seem swell. Then, they light a cigarette, and the attraction (and thus any fantasy) ends.
More importantly, I have a sensitivity to it. Someone told me that you can’t be “allergic” to it, so I say sensitivity, but damn it if the right whiff doesn’t launch me into a 15-minute sneezing fit. It irritates my eyes, it makes me nauseous, and seriously, it frickin’ reeks. I once went on a date with a guy who just smelled like smoke and I ended it as soon as the movie was over because I simply could not stand to be around him. When I was living in New York and Iowa, I was fortunate that I could go and enjoy the bars without these experiences, but now I hesitate to go out much here in PA, because my experiences are always so tainted.
It turns out that smoking is a big problem in the gay community. I choose the word, “problem,” because yes, it a serious health concern (and not just because some of us hate it). A study came out last month that found that smoking in the LGBT community is disproportionately high:
The study indicates the LGBT population smokes at a higher rate than the general public. Data show that gay, bisexual and transgender men are up to 2.5 times more likely to smoke than heterosexual men. Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are up to twice as likely to smoke as straight women.
WTF? Isn’t it bad enough that we’re still beaten, harassed, demonized, and discriminated against? Do we have to smell bad too? Do we really need to add lung cancer to our list of ailments when HIV still doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
(Oh, and by the way, if you “only smoke when drinking,” then guess what? You smoke.)
The thing that drives me the craziest is how indignant people are about smoking. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will read this post and think me (or even call me) “intolerant.” I’m not sensitive to people’s addictions. I’m a fascist who’s trying to control people’s freedom. Some might even think I’m jealous that I don’t look super cool with a fag between my fingers.
First, I have incredible sympathy for folks with addiction and eagerly offer my support and motivation for those trying to quit. I really respect the folks who are conscientious about not smoking around others or even indoors. Second, I’m not so judgmental that I won’t even be around people who smoke. My mom smokes, and I still love her dearly (but you can bet I stay away from her when she smokes and for a period of time after).
Also, I’m not trying to tell anyone they can’t smoke. I do like telling people they can’t smoke in indoor public spaces, because I feel that helps make spaces inclusive of non-smokers without really being exclusive of smokers. (Oh, and I might favor higher taxes on tobacco too, because, well, I’m kind of a socialist like that.)
But come on, queer community. Don’t we owe ourselves better? I don’t know the ins and outs of why people smoke, but I just feel like smoking is bad for the queer community’s health and social well being. I mean, some folks even fetishize smoking, as if it’s really hot! (Check out boys-smoking.com if you don’t believe me—fair warning: it’s a gay porn site.) This is just disgusting. And again, I’m not trying to judge your fetish, I’m concerned about your health and my own!
I hated having to walk through the casino this past week. I’d always come out the other side with bloodshot eyes. And come on, even if you disagree with me that we need to really work to reduce the tobacco use of our community, surely you aren’t so cruel as to suggest I don’t deserve a boyfriend who I can kiss without sneezing blood a few minutes later.
There’s no good excuse for our bad habits. If you need help, please check out the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network or contact your local quitters’ hotline. Let’s show the world how nice we can really smell.