I was reading a post, here, on WordPress, and I got really aback. Because one line read as follows: “I’m gay. Not stereotypical at all.” (If you are reading my blog, so you know I quoted you here.)
I got really upset while I was reading it, because some gay men occasionally refer to themselves as gay, but not too gay. I have few gay friends (not by choice or not by discrimination, merely because I’m not socially skilled to make friends easily), but they also make that hideous reference from time to time, specially when pointing out a gay man walking down the street or a gay man appears on TV.
So, I started to recollect memories about the different occasions that my friends and I pulled out from our pockets the how-gay-are-you survey-card. And the best thing of it is that we did it in order to laugh at them or simply place them aside (bullying right there).
Well, what’s on that card? What do we examine when we accidentally meet with another gay man? What’s the acceptable level of gayness a gay man should have?
I started wondering about all those questions. I recalled previous moments when I pulled out the survey-card along with a friend or a group of friends and by myself. I started feeling shameful about myself. And then, I realized that I’m still the same 20-year-old guy who was afraid of people knowing he was gay. I’m 33 now.
The reasons why we score the level of gayness is just to be entirely sure that we are safely capable of hanging out with that person without dragging tons of unwanted attention. The fear of being spotted in a mall, on the streets, at work, or around your neighborhood is our constant worry. We are still concerned about the scornful stare, along with the whispered chats. We look around us, pursuing a comfort level that we are totally secured from people scrutiny.
So, pointing out how flamboyant a guy is ensures us how butch and manly we are. Making fun of other men’s level of gayness gives us the certainty that we are not as gay as they are. Therefore, we are placidly “not part of the stereotype.” Even though, at the end of the day, we all roll under the sheets with another men (that’s the gayest thing ever!!).
Despite of being gay, we behave as any other straight men. We need to show our macho-man power to our friends. We don’t want our manhood being shadowed by the presence of a delicate-mannered queen. We are gay, but we are still men! So, not being stereotype makes us believe that we are far from being laughed at. We try hard not to be stereotyped since it might take our man mojo away.
So, the truth about the survey is the fear of being stereotyped and the fear of being stereotyped is letting the truth out.
I might know what this person wanted to mean when writing that line. Perhaps, it was not anything that I mentioned above. However, it made me wonder about something really important: we are still scared of who we are. I am still scared. Even though, we might portray toughness, confidence and control. Stereotypes are part of any culture. Ours have been manipulated against us by causing laughter, humiliation, discrimination and, at some point, embarrassment.
Stereotypes are hard to erase from people’s collective consciousness. However, they have paved the way for the freedom and the degree of acceptance gay men, around the world, enjoy today. Those stereotypes, which still walk around neighborhoods, takes the laughs, discrimination, humiliation, and stone-throwing with a smile on their faces and heartfelt determination to bring about awareness to haters and strength to weaklings.
As a personal note, before I started writing this blog, I have been treating people as what they are: people. I talk to any gay man I run out with (If I have been introduced before, Of course!! I don’t want to be known of the crazy gay man who greets any gay stranger he meets). I am being loyal to who I am. I don’t care how flamboyant a man is. If he is trust-worthy, honest and happy, I definitely talk to him.
Finally, I salute you, all gay men who each fight against fear and people’s stares.