…Is it because I’m gay?
|April 6, 2012||Posted by Nicholas Welbrock under lifestyle|
We’ve all seen them at college or university: the strutting, overly excitable, girly, and frankly eccentric males that we instantly label as “gay”. Now, I may occasionally be some of these things, but I am definitely not that stereotype. I’m gay. I like men. That does not mean I’m not masculine.
Many a time I have heard the:
“Why does he act like that?”
“It’s fine, he’s gay.”
“Oh, OK then.”
It’s as if being gay is a reason to act a certain way. Let me tell you: it isn’t. Being gay does not change how you act, talk, or walk; only who you like. Please don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against “camp”. No one should have to pretend to be someone they are not. I am merely complaining about the overnight transition between acting “normally” and conforming to the stereotype. Some may think it is harmless, a mere ploy to “fit in”, but it is only perpetuating the condescending tone the gay community often receives.
There is no doubt that things have improved dramatically from the 60s when homosexuality finally became legal. I would even go so far as to say the majority of gay men are treated equally, at least in the society to which I belong. This does not, however, mean that I take it for granted. I am not going to go into the details, but various forms of global discrimination give homosexuality a colourful history. Some may argue that after to this oppression gay men (and women) should be able to act however they see fit, enjoying the liberation they deserve. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I would, however, argue that many gay individuals who adhere to the feminine stereotype are not acting in the way they would like, but rather in the way the media and other influences expect them to behave. I think this is terrible. By acting “cute”, almost, gay men are encouraging society to treat them in a patronising way rather than with the respect they are entitled.
Not only does it cause society to receive gay men with an almost childlike humour, but behaviours such as limp wrists and OTT hand gestures create an ingrained image of homosexuals that is not at all representative of the gay community. Gay stereotyping differs from that of sexual or racial stereotyping for two main reasons. The first is that it is accepted: no one is horrified if you say that all homosexuals are camp. The second is that it is not the opposing party that creates the stigma, but rather members of the afflicted community. This to me is absurd. Admittedly, being “camp” is not an insult, but why should I have to fight against an assumption that is simply not true? Surely any label that is untrue is therefore derogatory? I feel I have the right to be perceived as an individual, taken at face value, rather than judged on my sexual orientation.
Two nasty traits that drive the stereotype forward are “bitching” and “backstabbing”. Admittedly, everyone is guilty of these at least once in his or her life, and I’m no exception. That said, I find it disgusting how some individuals use being gay as an excuse to bitch shamelessly about other people, including other gay men. Only a few weeks ago one of these guys mocked me for making a joke and simply said: “Yeah right, you practically scream virgin.” Somewhat hurt by this, I realised that not only does the gay stereotype allow for such vindication, but it is self-perpetuating, as it accounts for such repellent behaviour: “He’s bitchy because he’s gay.” To me this is ridiculous as saying “He kills small animals because he’s left handed,” and yet it is accepted. Some individuals who happen to be gay men may be derogatory towards other people, but they are just that, individuals, and it should not be justified because of their sexual orientation. It not only damages society but also creates an undertone of distrust, which is the last thing the gay community needs.
I am gay. I am masculine. I like guns and whisky (not together), and I don’t walk around with a limp hand or a high-pitched voice. (Nor do I wear biker leathers and walk around with a policeman and an Indian chief.) Why do I behave like this? Because that’s who I am. I would be like this if I was heterosexual, bisexual, asexual, or any other orientation you can think of. When I realised I was gay I did not change my behaviour, because my sexuality is a part of me and not the basis for my personality. Some men may be naturally effeminate, and I am sure they would agree with me when I say my sexuality affects me no more than my shoe size or eye colour. I am a person in my own right and, though proud of being gay, I detest the way the stereotype engulfs me and many other individuals because of the fake and unseemly behaviour of others.