Finding respectful, trustworthy, honorable male household employees can be difficult for single women, especially older women with compromised health or physicality. That is true anywhere: Seattle, Minneapolis, Toronto, London, Minsk, or Ajijic. Whether it is a handyman, cook, or gardener, bringing male strangers into one’s personal space can be risky and it can expose a woman’s vulnerability. Therefore, some women, in order to create a safe environment, prefer to hire gay men when possible. Doing so guarantees nothing, but it does lessen the chance of assault and rape.
Frequently, however, the employer cannot determine if an interviewee or recently hired employee is gay and, as a result, the diplomatic, perhaps timid, employer seeks clues or evidence instead of flat-out asking. Certainly, there are signs, especially if one is observing a gardener. For example:
If your gardener is 40ish and his assistants are all between 18 and 22 and are more handsome than the male cast members of any American soap opera or Mexican telenovela, your gardener might be gay.
If your gardener’s wife was named Rosa, but he insisted she change her name to Barbra, spelled like Streisand, and their two sons are named Ricky and Martin, your gardener might be gay.
If your gardener wears pastel pink or lavender work gloves, your gardener might be gay.
If your gardener works in bib overalls with no T-shirt, and the hip buttons are undone, he probably is gay.
If your gardener wears jeans that fit perfectly, but ride just low enough that you can see his leopard print thong, your gardener surely is gay.
If your gardener plays music while working and it is a mix-tape starting with Judy Garland and progressing to Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Lady Gaga, your gardener probably should be referred to as a gaydener.
If he dances and lip-syncs to the aforementioned mixed tape, he’s gay and a probable America’s Got Talent reject.
If your gardener’s lunch is served on a spread-on-the-lawn tablecloth and the meal consists of paté sandwiches cut in thirds and vin rosé, your gardener aspires to be an A-List gay.
If your gardener drinks Evian water through a straw during his breaks, he is not only gay, he is thirsty.
If your gardener aerates the lawn with Jimmy Chu stiletto heels, and does so without falling, he could be gay, I mean he is gay.
If your gardener insists the only flower in your garden be pansies, your gardener is gay and possesses a wicked ironic sense of humor.
If your gardener suggests the only trees you plant are pinkwood, sasswood, manjack, and fruiter, he not only is a gaydener, but he is spending entirely too much time researching suggestive, unusually named trees.
If your gardener spends more time chatting up your college-age grandson who is visiting than gardening, he could be gay. If your grandson does not reject the attention, he, too, might be gay. Or looking for a sugar daddy. Or he could be a hustler.
If, when your gardener asks to use the bathroom, he gets distracted by your outfit and describes it as magenta, mauve, or marigold instead of red, purple, or yellow, methinks he’s a homo.
If your gardener, on his way to the bathroom, sees a framed photograph of your husband when he was young and gazes at it longingly, oh, he’s gay.
If your gardener leaves the bathroom cleaner than it was when he entered, he surely is gay.
If your gardener leaves your yard looking immaculate, even after the messiest of projects, he could be gay. But he certainly is disturbingly anal retentive.
If you discover, after your gardener has left for the day, sequins strewn throughout the flower beds, he’s gay, or he simply may have a part-time job at Sequins R Us. Or both.
And, finally, if your gardener doesn’t fit any of these stereotypical descriptions and is more masculine than John Wayne, or as we say in Mexico, Juan Wayne, he still could be gay.
That is because stereotypes like I’ve exploited for a laugh are merely broad brush strokes, simplifying perceptions about people and groups and dehumanizing them. People are complex, more complex than their labels, and frequently stereotypes and expectations can be shattered.
In other words, you really can’t tell or shouldn’t assume the sexual orientation of people. Male hairdressers can be straight. Professional football players can be gay. Men who dance ballet can be straight. Military personnel can be gay. Male elementary school teachers can be straight. Conservative republicans can be gay.
And gardeners can be either. Even when they plant magenta pansies and pinkwood trees in your yard.