Sometimes, Gentle Reader, I need to just be with my people. Sometimes, I need to get away from societal expectations, and the pressure to behave according to the confines of society, to either “butch it up” and act like a stereotypical straight guy, or “camp it up” and act like the gay stereotypes on your TV screen.
Well, the ones that used to be there. The stereotypes we get now are of “ordinary” characters that just happen to be gay.These characters are written both by and for straight audiences, and they do the Marriage Equality movement no harm at all*. Still, sometimes I want to just be around other queers, where we all are as we are, and the only expectations of behavior placed upon us are the expectations that we put there ourselves†.
It’s Pride month, as you may or may not be aware. That’s still a poignant and important thing. I was reading a discussion on a facebook page, and a young lesbian had posed a question. She was baffled by all the men in thongs, and women in pasties or nipple-paint. “If we’re trying to show everyone that we’re just like them, then why are we overly sexualizing our community? Doesn’t this just prove that we’re sexually deviant?”
That, my dear, is precisely the point, and precisely the problem I have with a great deal of the modern focus on marriage in the modern fight for equality‡. Now, there’s a great deal to be said for assimilating into mainstream society, but I think that that misses a great deal of the very freedom that we queers have – the freedom of non-conformity.
Myself, I’m a bit of a prude, and would never wear a thong in public no matter the circumstances, but if you want to be a go-go boy on a parade float with enormous glittery angel wings, vive la differénce! We should not all have to pair off in heteronormative relationships, wearing suits and ties, or knee-length frocks with pearls, to get Mom and Pop Ohio to validate our equality. If you want to, that’s marvelous! If you want to have a committed polyamorous relationship, that’s marvelous! If you want to have a romantic friendship, or a lavender marriage, or carry on single and chaste, or single and promiscuous, that’s marvelous. We don’t have to all be the same, or behave the same, in order to be treated the same.
So if you’re at a Pride celebration, young lady, and you see a woman with painted starfish on her nipples, climb off your ivory tower and give her a hug for being able to celebrate herself. She’s free to behave as she likes, and you’re free to behave as you like, and neither behavior hurts the cause. If anything, it’ll open the fabric of society up to more ways of behaving, of loving,of being, of experiencing the human condition. It will widen horizons and make Society a more remarkable, beautiful, fascinating place to live.
*Okay, I have no proof that those are written by or for straight audiences. I do think that they serve a useful purpose, as the old caricatures of us did. The old ones put gay people into the public eye by making us funny, non-threatening. While reinforcing negative stereotypes, they also humanized us, slightly. With the new caricatures, they’re showing that – shock of shocks – gay people can behave just like straight people. That’s true, and that’s wonderful, but one should not have to act like a straight person to be acceptable to society, or to be found attractive.
†In the world of gay dating – particularly on dating apps like Grindr, but also everywhere everywhere EVERYWHERE – more value is given to “straight-acting” guys. This is true throughout the community, to the extent that some gay guys are overthrowing one set of stereotypes to squeeze themselves into into an entirely different set, never actually exploring where their own tendencies are. I find this ridiculous and offensive, but that’s probably just me.
‡A great deal of the rest of my problem is that Lesbians, Bisexuals, and the Transgendered≠ are often left out of discussions of LGBT≠ issues, as are people of color. The White Gay Male is the face of the movement, and that’s strictly rotten.
≠Sorry, I know that this post is more than half foot-note. HOWEVER, spellcheck not only recognizes Facebook as a word – and a proper noun, at that – but it doesn’t recognize transgender or LGBT at all. What. The. What.