Being a gay man has everything to do with being a masculine man.
Hope combined with tolerance and education might soften stereotypes, but can definitely lead us to living more harmoniously on this planet. Every movement starts with one person, and I am one person.
We can only limit how we appear; we cannot control how we are perceived in the minds of others. Hell, we are all somewhat delusional—popular culture is full of iconic figures that should really look into a mirror.
A dear friend dropped me off at LAX last week for my flight. We both got out of the car, and we enjoyed a big hug curbside—I love my friend and won’t see him for a while. We’d hug if we were seeing each other the next day, in truth. He is a handsome, straight man, and we have no romantic past. I am an incredibly handsome, and totally gay, man—it’s no surprise when people hug me.
What was a surprise were the two guys waiting for a cab curbside at LAX who witnessed my brazen hug. As I wheeled my suitcase past, I heard one say to the other, “Look at that, they’re everywhere now.”
It stung. I wondered Who is everywhere? Chic men with good luggage, or faggots? I had a flight to catch, and a life to lead, and my reaction stayed in my head. Always leave them wanting more … of an explanation in this case. My thoughts about how I am perceived have ruminated in my head for most of my life.
I didn’t have time to tell them to mind their own business, and to defend my friend who isn’t gay, or yell at them for presuming we had just spat out each others cocks long enough to say goodbye. Their journey is not my journey. I didn’t even have the compassion to give them much more useful information—like they were standing in the wrong area to hail a cab. They are probably still standing there, stuck in the proverbial past.
The two men both had shaved their heads bald, wore jeans and tight t-shirts. In the right setting, they would look like a couple. A gay couple. One man who fell in love with the way the other man looked; they bonded over a shared a love for football, golden retrievers, political ideals, and dressing in harnesses and handcuffs—because they looked like a pair of Leather Daddies. Boys who like boys who look like them.
They could be a stereotypical gay couple. We look for a partner with the same interests, and sometimes that includes a look. I know straight couples that end up looking similar. I was at Niagara Falls recently and saw a married hetero couple wearing matching rain jackets. Pretty damn gay.
I have to fight being judgmental from my own glass house. If wearing certain clothes or living in an area surrounded by the embrace of a gay community makes you feel safe, do it. There are a lot of people throwing stones. I can sit in a church behind an older straight couple, and admire both the love they have for each other and their freedom to express it. My thoughts are free to wander to the probable conclusion that they have some pretty freaky sex. Maybe he is wearing pink lace panties as he prays. Perhaps her jaw is sore from the blowjob she couldn’t wait to give him after the pot roast dinner she slaved over. In the most tolerant world we could all exchange tips on everything. I make a mean pot roast.
My favorite credo came from a peaceful, strict, yoga instructor. Stay on your own mat.
Image credit: tinou bao/Flickr