Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Masks We Wear

Yesterday, I wrote about how certain people in the gay community have strict types, how they automatically reject those who don't fit their type, and how ageism, sexism, and racism have become a part of the gay community.  I find it ridiculous how as a community we reject those who don't conform to our expectations, and this goes beyond just the gay community but to humanity as a whole.  I also mentioned the "bromo" type.  Coop wrote this in his comment, and I wanted to share it with those of you who might not have read the comments:
There are a lot of talking heads out in the gay community who like to chide gay men for acting too straight or (allegedly) trying to downplay the fact that they are gay by saying that they are straight acting. My first thought when I read the word "bromo" in this post was that somewhere some know-it-all will have a problem with that designation/group/ whatever you want to call it.
The thing is that we all have our prejudices, no matter how hard we work against them.  I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  When we chide each other for being too "straight-acting" or too "flamboyant," we cheapen ourselves as a community.  Those of us who are closeted know that we must appear straight or the rumors that you're gay fly around like a bat out of hell.  I have several close friends here and away from here who know I am gay.  I even have many who suspect that I am gay, but never say so.  I have different ways of acting around different people.  I keep up appearances, which is part of the deception of being in the closet. I don't like it, but it's reality.

The point I'm trying to make is that we are all unique.  Some of us are naturally flamboyant, while others may be more "straight acting" or just a "good ol' boy" or however you want to put it.  I dare not say normal because what's normal for me is not necessarily normal for you.  With that said, we all have it in us to show different personalities to different people.  For all things there is a time and place.  Sometimes, I can be flamboyant when I want to be, and sometimes I'm not and do my best to blend into my surroundings.  It's according to the situation.  I think all gay men have it in them to be flamboyant.  Sometimes it just comes out in us.  I have to catch myself to keep from calling everyone "honey" or saying something is "fabulous."  I often say instead that something is "fantastic" but that can sound just as flamboyant as fabulous at times.  

Anyone who says they are completely straight-acting is being ridiculous.  There is nothing straight-acting about giving a blowjob unless you're a woman.  Therefore, I understand the gay pundits who rail against those who call themselves straight-acting, but I also understand why someone can describe themselves as straight-acting. No matter how much we hate labels, they are often useful.

So no matter what mask you wear, I urge you and myself to be ourselves more.  We can still wear the masks that hide our sexuality, but if we hide who we truly are then we lose ourselves.



silvereagle said...

To thine ownself be true......and who cares what anyone thinks!!!!

Amanda said...

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive you-er than you! ~ Dr Seuss.

Thanks for posting this. I look forward to a future where we can eventually do away with labels someday. Happy Halloween! :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything you say. Except...I am "straight acting", I guess. I don't give blowjobs on the street, or do anything else "outwardly gay" in public...though were I to have a boyfriend/SO/spouse, perhaps some light PDA would be OK. So not being limp wristed or flamboyant, or other things like this IS true to who I am, and I'm still gay and proud of it. To that end, as long as your behavior is not disgusting (to the point that everyone wants to shout "get a room" and you are at least mostly dressed in the Pride parade), I'm not going to judge you at all. So why should anyone judge me because I'm not "visibly" gay? It's not a mask I wear, it's who I am. The labels you describe seem only apply to how we are viewed in public...thus the blowjob analogy doesn't hold in my mind.

Just my opinion.

Peace <3

Anonymous said...

"I have several close friends here and away from here who know I am gay. I even have many who suspect that I am gay, but never say so. I have different ways of acting around different people. I keep up appearances, which is part of the deception of being in the closet. I don't like it, but it's reality."

As a closeted sometimes seems like a lonely existence...where everything seems to happen to me and me alone. I'm out in the online universe but I don't post any identifiable pictures or even my name. I feel better being out (online) but having a place to post my thoughts, likes and so forth only shows me how depressed I am most of the time. Whether this would be different if I were out - I can't say.

JoeBlow said...

Jay, I was talking about how we act in private and in public. Not all of us have anything to hide behind, but most of us do. I just used flamboyance and straight-acting as an example. I have other things that I keep to myself. Maybe it's something else that we are embarrassed about. Maybe it's being polite to someone we can't stand to be around, but we are still expected to be polite. Maybe that last one is my southern upbringing. I don't consider it being two-faced, just being polite because that is what I was taught to do. I didn't mean to imply that straight-acting gay men have something to hide, but some do. I try my best to be myself. I sometimes fail at that.

JoeBlow said...

We all have our burdens that we bear, some are harder than others. Yes, being in the closet can be a solitary experience. I thing that is one of the greatest things about the online world. There are places where we can be ourselves.

JoeBlow said...

I fervently believe that Dr. Suess was one of the greatest modern philosophers.

JoeBlow said...

So very true.

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

"There is nothing straight-acting about giving a blow job unless you're a woman." - who says when women give bj's they're straight acting? Maybe when women give bj's they're gay acting?

tonyitalian1951 said...

I am straight and polite . My upbringing is southern too. Sicily is the island underneath Italy, and there we believe in politeness. I agree with you JoeBlow

Coop said...

Hi Joe

Thanks for taking the time to write this commentary. Here a link to an editors on the gaybros that really got me thinking on this topic:

I agree with you in that there is nothing "straight acting" about being gay. And, now, that I think about it, I understand more about what is wrong with that phrase. It's a stereotypical way to differentiate oneself from stereotypical gay people. It's shorthand for "I watch football and not RuPaul's drag race" and that's why a lot of people use it I suppose... without thinking of the consequences.

I don't think is up to any gay person to "call out" anyone else... tell them that they are repressing themselves or are in denial or not gay enough etc. etc.

Back to the editor's letter: The letter uses the gaybros as an example of the need to stop labelling people. And that's good But the author kind of says that gaybros are repressing themselves or are in denial.
Are the contestants on Drag Race (assuming they're all gay) and more courageous than the rest of us? Nope.

I didn't find out about the gaybros on my own. Hat tip to Justin over at Justin Dunes for that.

JoeBlow said...

Thanks, Coop. I think the more we try to label people, the more people we are leaving out. I doubt I fit into any of these categories. I'm just me and that's it. I can enjoy RuPaul's Drag Race, but I also enjoy watching football. I know what I like and what I enjoy, some of it is stereotypical, some is not. It's just part of being who I am.

JoeBlow said...

LOL, Sean.

Kevin said...

Everybody puts up a different face in different situations because people have different expectations of us. I consider myself a geeky person and there are certain behaviors specific to it, like any other culture. I couldn't blurt out "Critical hit!" when something fortuitous happens at work. My friends might get it, but my colleagues will just look at me like I'm crazy. I also happen to be gay; that's another facet about me that seldom gets expressed in the workplace. I expect many of us put up a different face at work. Because there is simply too much at stake.

Relating this to being gay however, it cannot be helped that "straight acting vs stereotypical gay" is brought up. If it's one thing that is tiresome about the gay community, it's the obsession with masculinity vs femininity. The arguments range from "We make being gay acceptable to the greater public!" to "We made Stonewall happen!" But I've gotten to a place where I think it's simply sad when somebody says they are "masc" or "femme" and that is the only face they're interested in showing the LGBT community and all they will ever be.

I feel it's also a poor basis for forming relationships with others- romantic, platonic, or other whys. The labels, in fact, are more often used to alienate rather than include. I consider myself fortunate to be included in a circle of gay friends formed from similar interests (board games, video games, all around unabashed nerdery). Within our group, I could pretty put us along a spectrum of "straight acting" and "gay stereotype". But why would I? We're not meeting to see who is manlier than thou. We're meeting to try and kill each other...with cards!