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Guise and Dolls, pt. 2
Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Jan 18, 2008
Last week, I touched on the topic of masculinity vs. homosexuality, and how I believed that the one doesn’t necessarily negate the existence of the other. If you’ll remember, I went into this whole discourse about the way most people think that a gay man is less than a man just because he may not be overtly "manly". This week, I’d like to expand on that subject.
The idea began to take shape a few years ago when I was at a restaurant with a female friend. We had planned on this dinner for awhile, so it was nice to finally get called to a table. Our waiter for the night promptly came over with our menus and to take our drink orders, surely a commendable act to most restaurant goers who’ve waited a while for a table. However, as soon as he uttered the words, “What can I get you ladies to drink?” and took his eyes off his scratch pad, whatever thoughts I may have had about commendable service quickly went the way of his smile.
Now, because I’m not the type of customer who prefers to have his waiter’s head served on a plate instead of food, and because I realized that my shoulder length hair may have confused him, I just grinned and bore the brunt of his embarrassment for him. The problem though is that you can only grin and bear it so many times. After a few more similar situations (e.g. being addressed as “Miss” at Costco, being mistakenly termed a sorority girl when out with my friends and having the “F” box checked on a form by a service employee), I decided to finally get a haircut and sport a mustache (or rather, four hairs and glass of chocolate milk, whichever comes first).
What confused me was that I had never attempted to look female in the first place, and while my hair may have been longer than the average Joe’s, I never took to wearing women’s clothing. I agree that in conversation, our sexualities can be tipped off by a number of speech related idiosyncrasies such as word choice, a dramatic flair and proper enunciation. But when was it ever a ball-cutting curse for us gays to invest in an adequate dictionary?
For awhile, the gender confusion seemed to stop. Then, it happened again last week when a man entering the men’s room of the Cheesecake Factory as I was exiting gave me a look that can only be described as something between utter confusion and the horror of sheer embarrassment. Apparently, what I had thought to be my manliness was merely masquerade to others. It was disappointing, this bending of wills to the trends of masculinity. But it made me realized we shouldn’t have to curtail our personal affectations for fear of a little gender-bending.
So to those who argue that men shouldn’t use man-bags, I say let them over stuff their pant pockets. To those who turn their noses up at our bangs and ponytails, go ahead and showoff your shiny, big foreheads. To every single person who scoffs at men’s beauty products, may you enjoy your overstuffed pores and terminally dry skin. And to all of those turned off by mandals…actually, that’d be a good place to stop.
Indeed, if sexual preference were determined by sexuality, we wouldn’t even need to have this discussion. But as it stands, no one of us has more control over whom he chooses to sleep with than what society will ultimately think of us for making that decision in the first place. So to hell with the naysayers and the finger-pointers, I’m not going to be less of a man just because I wear tight fitted jeans, and I’m not going to be more of one if I don’t.
You see, our clothes and hairstyles don’t make us gay anymore than they make us men or women. We may think that our choices in fashion are forms of self expression, but as evidenced by my rude awakening in the Cheesecake Factory last week, no amount of costuming can effectively shield you from what others probably already think about you. Let’s put it this way, did you ever think that Rosie O’Donnell was anything other than a lesbian even when she was crushing on Tom Cruise?
by Philip Wong on Jan 18, 2008