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Guise and Dolls

Room for Squares

Itís human nature to make assumptions about things that you donít really understand. Weíre all guilty of that, so itís hard to fault others for making guesses about you, so long as they are willing to change their views after meeting you. But what happens when people refuse to change their assumptions? What happens when ignorant, pre-conceived notions become misinformed, lasting impressions?

Essentially, this is a battle weíve all fought before. You know those playground bullies whoíd never pick you for their teams because they thought you were a sissy? Well, you worked hard to prove to them that you could indeed play their games, girl-like throwing notwithstanding. Fast forward 15 years, and you find yourself in the same gym with these people, bulking to see who can get the bigger biceps. But while you can prove your masculinity time and time again on the field or behind the pitch, when it comes time for you to share a locker room you realize that you still donít see eye to eye.

There are a lot of misconceptions about gay men that straight people hold as irreversible truths -- the main one being that being gay somehow makes you less of a man and more like a woman. Itís why we like to shop so much, why we like to gossip and hang out with the girls, and why we pay so much attention to the way we look. Masculinity and homosexuality have never been mutually exclusive, but such a distinction is clearly drawn by most of the world.

Just look at Boy George. Thirty years later, people arenít calling him ďMan GeorgeĒ. Letís also examine all the straight emo boys in eye liner, the very same ones for bearing their souls and emotions to the world through song. Why do they feel as if the only way for them to effectively do this is to wear womenís makeup? Could that be mere coincidence? That the ability to be in touch with your emotions is somehow only found in the guise of the so-called ďweakerĒ sex? And so, because gay men talk about their feelings and care about the way they look, theyíre somehow incapable of being virile?

The idea of a homosexual as some cowering pansy in womenís clothing is nothing new. My sister once came to me, clearly shaken by a dream that she had had. In it, I, her gay brother, had wanted a sex change operation. Instead of laughing off this ridiculous notion, she came to me truly concerned: ďYou donít really want to be a woman, do you?Ē No, I donít. I donít even want to wear womenís clothing. In fact, I donít want to have anything to do with women. By coming to me, not only did she affirm that I will always be somehow incomplete to her, but she also confirmed what I had already suspected most people to believe: that gay men are, in essence, the same as women.

How can we blame them, when the depictions of most television gays are starkly asexual? On ďAs The World Turns,Ē we currently have daytime TVís first teenage gay couple, but studio execs are dead set against showing any PDA. That mentality isnít reserved only for daytime TV: Will didnít get in a serious relationship until the end of ďWill & GraceĒ. Add to this the bevy of make-over mavens on reality shows and what you have is a procession of sex-less, ďunmannedĒ gay men. The message is that itís impossible for a gay man to be sexual and adhere to traditional notions of masculinity at the same time.

What Iím trying to get at is that far from being a community of Peter Pansies all wanting to play dress up, there are those of us who are effeminate and those less so, but we are all of us men. Hell, itís no cakewalk being gay; you have to be strong. My challenge to all who harbor the idea that all gay men secretly wish to be drag queens, transvestites, or transsexuals (Iím sure to them, thereís no distinction) is this: If you insist that we play dress up, where are all the gay policemen? Where are the gay construction workers? The gay sailors, the gay leather-men? The cowboy and the American Indian?