You don't have to lock your car here, he said. He was crossing the little street from the academic part of campus to the parking lot, where I was walking away from my car, which beeped twice to acknowledge that I had, indeed, locked it.
I never lock my car, he said. Or my house.
I said, It's habit.
He said, You should feel safe here.
We were close now. I could see small tufts of white hair like steam evacuating from his ears.
I'm a gay man in America, I said. Safety is a luxury.
Bah, he said. You don't have to feel that way here. There' some anti-minority sentiment up this way, but you don't have to feel that way.
I thought briefly about saying Matthew Shepard's name, but knew I'd have to explain an unshared history. The air was exhausted in my lungs.
His car was parked next to mine, too close to the lines. Maybe someone should steal it, the man said, getting into his car, laughing. In his rear view, I must have looked like the majority, I must have seemed saved.