If there’s one thing about my mere existence that I continually question, more than any other, it’s the question, am I too gay? Is that even possible?
As an openly gay man (with a boyfriend now!), there are certain… expectations of what I’m supposed to be. Simply because I would rather have a guy, than a girl, people for some reason expect that I should have a great fashion sense, be remarkably neat, brilliant ideas of how to decorate a room and be literally the campest person ever. Except I have a terrible fashion sense, am incredibly messy and have absolutely no idea what to put as a wallpaper for my computer, let alone for the wall. But on that last point, being the campest person ever? Well, that’s incredibly accurate and something that’s challenged in the gay community.
Recently, there was a television sitcom called The New Normal which featured a gay couple, half of which was incredibly, ridiculously camp. And this was meted with hatred from the community, which argued that this wasn’t an accurate representation of who they were and was just another example of the Hollywood stereotype of the sissy gay. The problem was that I saw the character as an incredible representation as to who I was. I am camp as a row of mauve tents (that’s not mine, by the way. It comes from one of my favourite shows ever, Beautiful People), so to hear this backlash was painful. For a community that prides itself on individuality and being yourself, the gay community is occasionally savage in what it sees as persecution and a conforming to older views. Except that there are people, like me, who do fit into these stereotypes. I love musicals, Celine Dion, Eurovision, Glee and a whole array of what society says are ‘gay’ interest items, and so when someone attacks these characters for being inaccurate representations of the gay community, I get mildly offended. It feels like a personal insult. Part of what it means to be gay is an understanding and acceptance of difference and diversity, because you’ve been there. You know what it feels like to be attacked simply because you can’t control some aspect of yourself, so it’s always surprising to me when minorities attack others, simply for being different.
The problem with this line of thinking comes when groups, such as the Church, use this to attack the minority. On the gay news website I follow there is regularly a member of the church attacking the gay community because it’s oppressing the religion by not allowing them to challenge the gay lifestyle. Well, if you just minded your own damn business then I wouldn’t feel the need to point out how hypocritical the church is.
It’s times like this when I wonder if I am defined by my sexuality, if that is all there is to me. It is certainly true that I search out things that have a perceived ‘gay’ interest, to help me understand what it is I’m supposed to be. This was particularly true during the coming out process. I watched so many gay shows and movies just to see what it was I was supposed to be and act like. And I learnt that I was supposed to be the campest individual ever, and when I’m down, I’ll often attack myself for this. I’m not my own person, just a collection of other people’s perceptions of what I should be. But then I realised that I’ve always been this camp. When I was little, I dressed up as a mermaid and was obsessed with Disney films (particularly The Little Mermaid, Alice In Wonderland and Mary Poppins). I’ve always loved ABBA and Taylor Swift and Celine Dion even before I knew that I was gay. The gay framework allowed me to show these things and not be ashamed of them. Because if people are going to hate me anyway just because I kiss boys, not girls, then I might as well do whatever the hell I want.
That’s the problem. People not minding their own business and trying to impose their views on my life and suggesting that just because I hold my boyfriend’s hand in public, I’m making some sort of statement. The amount of filthy looks I get as my boyfriend and I walk in the shopping centre is unbelievable and it makes me very, very angry. Because even though we are often told that gay rights isn’t as much of a ‘thing’ anymore, people still look at me as though I’m deformed and the devil spawn.
That’s another thing that really frustrates me, the term ‘gay agenda’. That somehow just because a show includes characters diverse in their sexuality, that the show has a ‘gay agenda’. No, it doesn’t. It’s just showing a more accurate representation of this diverse world we live in. And it’s even more frustrating when people (like my brother) suggest that by holding my boyfriend’s hand, I’m shoving my sexuality down their throat. Oh, and when you hold your girlfriend’s hand, of course that’s not trying to force the ‘straight agenda’ down my throat is it.
Why is it that just because I’m a man every action I do with my boyfriend is a political statement, worthy of people’s scrutiny? Can you imagine that if every time I walked down the straight, I stared down every straight couple just because I wasn’t like that? The frustration and hatred I would get would be unimaginable. And yet, when I get this with my boyfriend, it’s somehow socially acceptable, and I’ve almost grown to expect it and fear it. I shouldn’t have to worry about holding my boyfriend’s hand just because it’s not what’s expected of me.
And then there’s something my friend, Holmes, asked me the other day. I know it wasn’t meant as an insult or as something mean, but he asked me why all gay writers feel the need to write almost primarily about the gay experience. I was somewhat speechless and it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. I asked my boyfriend the same question and he said, he probably writes about primarily straight characters. And that’s an interesting point. We write about what we know. And I know how to be gay, I know about the specific problems in the gay lifestyle, even more so now I have a boyfriend. There are some things which stress me out and I don’t know how to deal with them simply because no-one discusses these things because they are specifically related to the gay experience. If I can write a book that helps even one gay person realise that they’re not alone, that it’s okay to hold you’re boyfriend’s hand in public and get annoyed at the judgement you may get about this, then I will be a very happy man.
There’s also the assumption that creative gay people NEED to deliberately address the issue of sexuality. I was reading the other day that some aboriginal writers grow frustrated that all of their work is analysed within the framework of their nationality, as opposed to seeing it as a straight text. The same thing goes for gay writers. Just because we know a writer is gay, we analyse their work in a different way. And when a straight person plays ‘gay’ in a movie, their performance is praised as an example of their versatility and yet when a gay mean plays ‘straight’, there is nowhere near as much hoopla. This annoys me.
There’s also the whole thing about our desperation to have an openly gay football player. I watched a short film the other day which encouraged them to come out, but to me, it felt more like a pressuring of them to reveal their sexuality. Coming out is a deeply personal and potentially damaging and traumatic experience and should only be done when you are ready. The mere idea of pressuring someone is so wrong as to be almost inconceivable.
So, that’s my rant for this week. A very angry one it is too. I don’t usually get this frustrated but I think this has been building up for a little while because it annoys me. A lot. I’m not too gay, there is no such thing, because everyone is different and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think we all just need to realise that we aren’t all the same and learn how to accept difference. And I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I do this as well, but I think there’s something to be said for at least trying to be more open-minded, because the more people who try, and the more exposure people get to it, then they have to change. If people don’t like seeing me and my boyfriend hold hands, then I need to hold his hand tighter, because I’m not going to hide who I am. And I’m not going to change what I am. And if that’s a super-camp uber-gay guy who gets angry about being unable to hide my boyfriend’s hand, then so be it.
Anyway, see you all next week. Sorry, if this seems like an attack. It’s not. It’s just more of a vent. Also, sorry this is a little late, but I had a lot of trouble writing this one. Oh, and the title is a reference to this Muppets song. It’s linked here because I was shocked that most of my friends were unaware of it and they need to know.
Things I Learnt While Dating #2Always have a blanket at the ready.*
*Particularly if you and your partner are in a compromising position in a car when a person walks past singing ‘Wrecking Ball’ at the top of their lungs.
Friends’ BlogsLola (The Blogging Of An Aspiring Writer)
Holmes (Life, The Universe And Everything According To A Writer)
The Playlist Of 14 May – 20 MayEnding Song (from Orphan Black)
Once Upon A December (from Anastasia)
Heavy Metal Heart (Sky Ferraira)
Imperial March [Darth Vader’s Theme] (John Williams)
The Top 6 Films Of 14 May – 20 MayStar Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Don’t Look Now
Boys Don’t Cry
Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
*Because of dating and television addictions, I only viewed six films this week