Monday, March 16, 2009

Gays Aren't So Strange

Too many straight people have strange reactions to gay people, which I've never been able to understand. Many gay men are effeminate: limp wrists, flashy dress, up and down inflection, and a little bit of a lisp.

And that makes people cringe. And then they say things like, "That's so strange! Why does he have to act so weird? That's just wrong."

Most people seem to think that gender is a set-in-stone reality, even as drag queens walk past them on the street, flying in the face of their conventions, disproving their pet theories with every sashay. Those people should read up on the subject.

I've never understood or sympathized with this double standard. Why is it okay for a woman to snap her wrist, jingle her bracelets, and declare something, "Fabulous!" but if a man does it, it's considered weird, wrong and --in some strange sense-- an impossible affront to reality.

I know people like to believe in magic, but there is no magical barrier stopping people from learning and expressing behaviors. The societal barrier that does exist is entirely imaginary, propped up by bigots, misogynists, "cringers," and those who refuse to reflect on their own irrational biases. Society is just as susceptible to change and adaptation as any individual.

So the next time you see an effeminate man walking with a bounce in his step, talking expressively, and wearing flashy clothes who, by the way, may or may not be gay, stop yourself from cringing, close your eyes, and imagine your girlfriend behaving with the same mannerisms. You'll realize, "Oh, that's not so strange. I see the same thing every day! I guess I'm just usually distracted by a pair of bouncing boobs."

With a little understanding and acceptance, the world will be a better place.


SuiginChou said...

My gut instinct response: I agree!! :)

Something I thought of as I neared the halfway point: however, you really do need to concede one difference, and it has nothing to do with sexuality but with "peculiar abnormalities" period, and that's the following:

- we don't point and stare at a horse walking in a grassy pasture, but we would point and stare at a man walking on all fours as neighing as if were a horse

- we don't point and stare at someone in ancient Chinese clothes when we're watching a film set in ancient China, but we do point and stare when someone walks through downtown New York City in his own Chinese imperial-style dress

These examples show that we point and stare not because of the behavior, not because of the person, but because of perceived mismatch between person and behavior. Modern-day people don't wear ancient Chinese clothes. It's weird! Cool, maybe, but unusual! Strange! Peculiar! And if a man was to walk down the sidewalk curling up against your legs and mewing, would you not be more likely to be disgusted or horrified than were it an honest-to-god cat doing the same?

Is it polite to point and stare? (Our society says) no, it isn't. But would we be surprised if a boy who has only ever seen women behave effeminately was to point and stare at a man behaving effeminately? Of course not. Whether a behavior is acceptable and whether a behavior is common practice are two very different things, Jay! Nobody points and stares at the boozer, because alcoholism while bad is common. And people point at Richard Simmons not just because they're uncomfortable with him due to their own gender-role prejudices but because, let's face it, Richard's still rather unique among the entire population of American men. If the number of straight men to gay men is 7:1 (let's say), I'm confident that the number of flamboyant gays is much less, say 49:1. Most gays, be they masculine, feminine, or neuter in their identity-role with their partner, are not flamboyant. Not all lesbians shave their heads, and not all gay men wear leather shorts, shades, and chains while talking in a cutesy-wootsy voice.

More in my next reply.

SuiginChou said...

I've given this a lot of thought, Jay, because -- while heterosexual -- there are a lot of things which I wish men could do but which Society says that only women can do. The funny thing to me, and probably to you too, is that there's no defensible reason for why women should be the ones to do this and not men (or vice versa). These things include:

1. I hate men's simple dress. It's not to say that I want frills or that I want to wear women's clothing, but it is to say that I wish men's clothing had as much variety to it as does women's. Women can wear any clothes men can (even the suit was powerless against the women's business suit) but only women can wear skirts, dresses, blouses, etc. I've never understood why, especially since many of these garments started off with men (Scottish kilts, French loose-fitting dress shirts [blouses] for men, Chinese dresses [for both genders], etc).

As a less provocative example, I *hate* that men's dress pants only come in the colors black, navy blue, dark brown (khaki), and light brown (light khaki). Four colors, only one of which I like (black), and ALL of which are dark except for light khaki (my other pant-color of choice for this very reason). But good god! What I wouldn't give to live in a society where a man could wear blue, red, green, yellow, orange, purple, whatever color pants he pleases without being seen as queer or dubious. No, I'm not a pimp. No, I'm not a clown. And no, I'm not gay. I just happen to like wearing grass-green pants with a sky-blue shirt. ("Can you guess why?" I'd like to ask 'em, good god. -_-; ) How are grass-green pants "flamboyant"? HOW SO!? How any more so than a grass-green shirt!?

2. As someone who loves romantic stories, you can imagine that I hate the stereotype that only women and gays like romance whereas men like action. To me, this is about as bad as the age-old "girls play with Barbies, boys with action figures" concept. I don't like stuff like Twilight, but admittedly I love sappy stuff like Wuthering Heights or Dr. Zhivago. Books that I'd be -- and have been! -- hard-pressed to find non-gay male fans of. But OBVIOUSLY Dr. Zhivago was written by a non-gay male (or if Pasternak was gay then he did a very good job of hiding it and throwing us off the scent with his hypnotizing descriptions of Yuri and Lara's love affair!), so it's like, ... grrrrrrr! lol

3. I like pastel colors. This has come across to friends and peers at college, online, and at home. Needless to say that I have encountered criticism in all three environments, with people suggesting that "soft colors are for girls to like, not for men." WTF!? Why is it that if a woman says she loves pure red it's okay but if a man says he likes dusty pink he's a "faggot queer"? That's an insult to both that man as well as to actual gays! Because it presumes that all gay men like pastels (!?) and that all men who like pastels are gay (!?). HOW DOES THIS COMPUTE!?! @_@

Needless to say, there are many real differences between men and women physically and psychologically (the latter referring to physical differences in the brain as determined by an animal's sex), but it irks me as a straight man just as much as it irks you when people act as if certain behaviors are taboo for men but okay for women.

A, I'm right there with you that there's no reason gay men can't do certain things women do.

But B, I'd hope that you'd join me in declaring that there's no reason why people regardless of sexual identity (hetero-male, homo-male, hetero-female, homo-female, neuter-male, neuter-female, and others!) should not be able to partake in a great many of the things which our society has currently restricted access to on the basis of gender identity & social decorum. :\

Jay said...

I am in complete agreement. And as much as I'd like to think and behave otherwise, I must concede that unusual behavior always draws attention to itself, wanted or not.

SuiginChou said...

(half-joking, half-serious)
I forgot to mention the biggest feminine thing of all about me: I prefer cute Pokémon to ferocious Pokémon. I like ferocious Pokémon too, and both are leagues better than the boring mundane in-betweeners, but as some easy-to-recognize examples:
- I love Jumpluff a whole bunch
- I like Torchic more than Blaziken
- I like Mareep more than Ampharos
- I love Whismur but hate its evolutions

Our society tends to say that "women like cute things, men like tough things." To me, I've never understand why this should be the case: indeed, from a purely evolutionary p.o.v., you would want men to lust after women (who are typically cuter than men are because they are physically softer, rounder, etc and for whatever reasons the male and female brains consider soft and round things to be cute), and the best way to do that is to get to men to like cute things, such that they go after cute things (like women); and vice versa for women, you'd want them to like tough macho things because then that means that they are attracted to tough macho people, and again (physically) men are typically much more tough than women (harder muscles, less soft fat, square jaws, very rigid outline, not at all as round or as soft as women are).

So why is that our society asks women to like cute things and men to like tough things? To me, that in itself almost seems to be encouraging men and women towards the homosexual end of the spectrum! lol "Like what is similar to you, and dislike that which is dissimilar to you." No way, man. Opposites should attract. And so it's only natural for the tough guy to like the cute kitty cat and for the demure girl to like the ferocious grizzly bear.

Mike said...

I saw the word boobs and got distracted. What's going on?

Anonymous said...

Effeminate men are sexy as hell to women.Take for instance Michael Jackson.Hot Damn he was fine as hell.He was sexy inside and out.