disclaimer: a little bit belabored. with a narrow focus. though this is probably the closest to writing a “gay narrative” that i’ve done.
gawker – in praise of queens (ends up talking about something else, but will start off with this. disclaimer: i don’t agree with some of the points brought up in this gawker piece and the one to follow, and certainly doesn’t apply to all gay people)
It would initially seem that Patti was right. One of the greatest compliments that you can pay a gay man is that he doesn’t seem gay. Sadly in our heterosexist culture, being able to seamlessly integrate into the mainstream is still prized above all else. And we see it on Manhunt and Grindr and all the other ways we cruise all the time: “no fats or fems” and “looking for men who are men.” Yes, it seems that no one wants a queen.
Part of this has to do with trying to avoid perpetuating stereotypes. Gay men are always telegraphed in media as limp-wristed, fey Carson Kressleys. It’s a gay man made easily recognizable by his feminine affect. After years of being dealt these distasteful archetypes, gay men are rebelling against them by butching it up as much as possible, at least in public.
tangentially related, but my favorite comment. i think the two most solid objections to the article in a concise, clean manner:
I think there should be a distinction between a “queen” and an effeminate gay man. To me, when someone says queen, it’s a bad thing. Not because it means they are girly, but because it implies they are bitchy, shallow, vein, obnoxious, gossipy, and rude.
And what is wrong with not being sexually attracted to feminine men?
the impetus of this blog entry
ever since, say… october 2010, i like to describe this phase of my life as my “gay awakening”. i’ll come up with something more catchy later, but suffice to say that it was a process in my life that i believe was long overdue. while there were several reasons why i embarked on this adventure, the significant motivator being to deal with the gay self-loathing/feeling uncomfortable with being gay.
so, without further ado, litmus tests for gay self-loathing and where i stand on each one. there’s a lot of rationalizing and potentially some delusion below:
1) do you hate yourself because you are gay? does it bother you/frustrate you that you are gay?
status before: there were… times when i felt this way. largely around odds of meeting gay people, how i felt out of touch with the “gay community”, thought straight people had it so much easier. being single after chris didn’t help either.
status now: much more so at peace about the whole situation. it is actually doable to meet gay people, and having more gay friends really has helped me understand that everything will be okay?
test of self-loathing: pretty obvious test, right? it’s, like, THE test. albeit a little bit general/vague.
2) do you judge gay people when they act effeminate or outside of social norms? does it bother you when people act “stereotypically gay”? does it bother you when gay people say “hey girl” to each other? if you heard this conversation non-ironically, would you roll your eyes?
status before: “giving gay people a bad name”. i think i was fairly judgmental about this.
status now: …. i think there are many more things that i appreciate a lot more than i used to, particularly surrounding the behavior that you would associate with “queens”. what i found annoying/weird i can now be entertained by. though it definitely still frustrates me when gay people shove loud personalities in the faces of straight people when they know it will get them off kilter.
test of self-loathing: my knee jerk reaction is that it’s possible to judge other gay people for “gay qualities” but still not be self-loathing, i don’t knowww. it’s like christians who wants to distance themselves from the westboro baptist church or the rapture dude; they are obviously still very proud of who they are and not self-loathing despite identifying with a group where they don’t necessarily agree with 100% of the constituents. or identifying with the 99% OWS movement even if you think some of them are idiots/lazy/etc.
3) do you take pride in knowing that you could “pass as a straight guy”? would it make you disappointed if someone told you that you had a gay accent/lisp or that you had limp wrists or they knew that you were gay when they met you?
status before: would very much so take pride in this.
status now: ugh, i think i am still very much in this camp. this whole blog entry was inspired by a conversation with dave where we were discussing whether i had a gay accent and how that made me feel, whether or not i would feel bad if i had a gay accent, and whether or not that was a litmus test for my self-loathing. i remember grilling howl and making him tell me that i was the butchest guy who he dated (which was not the case…. partially because howl just dates a lot of guys ughhhh lol).
test of self-loathing: semi-indicative? but don’t we all want to just be normal and fit in? heterosexist culture, yes.
4) are you fairly private/closeted about your sexuality? are you ashamed/not proud of being gay?
status before: somewhat reluctant to let strangers know, though all reasonably close people knew. i still can hear jason telling me that me bringing chris to the santa cruz offsite wouldn’t be awkward and that nobody would care. “what’s the worst that could happen, james?!?!?!” fighting to not take chris on that trip (chris loved that one). (chris ended up coming, and it was quite enjoyable, except for one semi-bizarre-maybe-offensive interaction if i wanted to really become sensitive about it.)
status now: i would argue fairly open about it? though, recently, i was at rickhouse talking to a bro who then asked me how i knew a guy who i had dated, and i froze and passed it off with a “friend of a friend”. that was disappointing.
test of self-loathing: somewhat indicative? you could be closeted but still not be self-loathing? somewhat difficult to imagine.
5) would you choose not to be gay? do you ever wish that you weren’t gay? if you were a parent, would you want your kid to be straight?
from my favorite gay army person guy. (who i only recently found out has a TYPO IN HIS SCREENNAME ughhhhhh)
status before: would think about this sometimes; obviously would answer yes.
status now: i don’t think about this question as much as i used to, but my answer would still be “yes”.
test of self-loathing: i actually struggled this one for a long time. because i was having a really difficult time reconciling how someone could be be (1) not self-loathing, and (2) wish they were not gay, because my gut reaction is that you should be able to be both at the same time and these two qualities should not be mutually exclusive.
my resolution ended up being as such: it is possible to try to better yourself and have goals in life while still not hating yourself. if you’re poor, you can still wish you had more money without hating your life. by virtue of having goals doesn’t directly imply that you “hate” that part of yourself. (the line is still very thin in my mind though, as having goals obviously implies dissatisfaction…. which is the same as self-loathing?!? i believe that the line exists….)
obviously being gay comes with a unique set of obstacles, and, sure, i wish i didn’t have to deal with these obstacles or wish them upon others, but by strictly acknowledging the obstacles does not mean you are self-loathing. haha, splitting hairs to the extreme? but i do believe that even if you are totally happy and satisfied with yourself, it is still very healthy to set goals and aspire toward something. final answer: not necessarily indicative.
(i don’t particularly remember my coming out moments with my mom and my sister, but i do remember my sister crying and telling me that it made her sad that my life would be so much harder than if i were straight. in a caring way.)
do i want to be able to answer “no” to all the above questions at some point in my life? ughhhh. really, question 1 is all that matters, right? i think that’s ultimately where i fall out on all of this.
what is the end goal of this exercise?! does any of this matter as long as i’m okay with who i am?!?!? or if i can delude myself into believing that i’m okay with who i am?!?!
(for the record, i do feel a lot more comfortable with myself and with my sexuality now than i was a year ago, and i do not believe that i am a self-loathing gay person.)
actual self loathing
gawker – the real reason gay men don’t get fat (only tangentially related to this entry, but i still found it to be a super interesting piece; again, do not think that this reflects a large portion of the gay population at large, but there are obviously portions of it that ring true to me)
There is only one thing that keeps gay men in shape: fear. Yes, every gay—at least those of the stereotypical abdominal-obsessed physique that populates Fire Island and Palm Springs—is brought about because gay men are afraid that they will be alone for the rest of their lives. If a gay man is not “serving body” while competing to find a trick or boyfriend in one of the more muscle-bound climates of gay culture, he will be sorely shut out. That is why gay men don’t get fat, because if they don’t have pecs, guns, and glutes, they’re going home alone.
Doonan is trying to capitalize on those skinny gay men of legend, but what governs them and governs the bear is really the same thing: fear. Many gay men spend their adolescence as outcasts or misfits, and when they finally get to a place where they can join the gay culture at large, they react to their years of social solitude by conforming with the sort of fervor usually reserved for packs of teenage girls. That means looking the part, which, of course, means joining the gym and becoming a regular. It has nothing to do with being healthy or looking good, it has to do with that deep-seated fear that one day you will wake up and it will be just like high school all over again, with people hating you or picking on you for being different. Never again!
That middle-of-the-night terror is not an easy thing to teach, and it’s not really the kind of advice that you can slap a sassy cover photo on and get millions of people to pay $22 for. Most gay men get it for free, and now, with this book, you too can be a pariah for years, then enter a conformist culture of casual sex and glistening bodies, followed by a lifetime of hookups with your significant other and the waxed dolphins you pick up on Grindr. That’s the secret of how gay men don’t get fat.
i wouldn’t say that i’m self-loathing about being gay, but something that is tangentially related is that i’ve always had very minor body image concerns. like not at all in a scary way, and to some degree i am indeed trivializing the term because i don’t particularly feel bad about how i look, but looking at myself in a mirror always would make me feel uncomfortable. standing in front of dance class and looking at myself in the mirror would be really awkward.
was sort of goofy, but we were making resolutions, and one of my technically “workout goals” was running along the embarcadero shirtless. which i think is sort of a workout/vanity goal, but i think it’s more importantly a body image/self-esteem goal. anyway, glad to say that i was able to do this with bristin when i made her do SOMK despite her being sick, jetlagged, and needing to run a couple miles in the evening. fairly uncomfortable, but glad i got it over with. (and i can stand in the front row at dance classes now! but that also just has to do with having more confidence.)
i think the way that this specific flavor of self-loathing manifests itself these days is that i have since discovered this incredibly attractive cross section of the san francisco gay community. i haven’t quite come up with a term to describe them, but they’re just all tall, beautiful, muscular white guys who all happen to know each other and only dance with each other at clubs. like i came across this facebook invite, and basically the entire guest list was this group that all knows each other. i think the invite tab has been open on my browser for like weeks at this point.
and like, all i want to do is just join this group and be accepted. sort of like what i would imagine high school would be like. and i 100% realize that it’s goofy to base your self-worth on whether or not an arbitrary (extremely beautiful) group will like you, but it just feels so unfairrrrrrrrr and i just want it so baddddddd. alright, done.
in any case, i would like to group this more in (self loathing due to looks) or (self loathing due to looks/being gay/being asian) rather than (self loathing due to being gay).
oh, side note. on the list of unconventional super powers: being really attractive. dubious practical advantages; infinite selfish advantages.
(tangentially related to (1) alisha’s powers from misfits, and (2) jedi mind tricks.)
no, cannot resist posting images of hunky simon. spoiler alert.
think “tangentially” might be becoming overused in this blog.