Conform or be cast out
-- Rush, Subdivisions
I'm using the above line from one of my favorite Rush songs because it serves very well as the theme for this months column:
One thing that absolutely drives me bonkers about the gay "scene" in my community is that it is just one big clique. Literally. As I've mentioned in previous columns, the attitude here is you either are a flame or you're not one of "us". It's that simple!
I personally have nothing against flames, but I simply cannot relate to that type of behavior because that's not the way I am. I haven't walked a mile in their shoes, so to speak. If I was asked to describe myself, I'd probably say that I'm just a typical guy with my fair share of personality quirks and talents. A typical guy maybe, but I'm as unique as anyone else.
Yet in the local gay community, there exists the limiting stereotypes because it's so much easier to conform than to risk being cast out. I'm sure this attitude exists elsewhere. For instance, I recall reading an article in a newspaper that told how FBI agents had great difficulty dealing with the gay community in Miami during the investigation of the Versace murder, mainly because they stuck out like sore thumbs in the gay bars -- they didn't fit in because they were ignorant of the gay lingo and dress, and therefore were viewed with suspicion and distrust.
That saddens me because a common attitude I keep hearing from other gays is "be yourself", yet there are rules and dress codes that apply to those seeking acceptance. Just like any clique. I feel bad for the younger gays, because they probably will end up being sucked into this same attitude. I blame much of this on the gay media, because they are the ones that have possibly the most influence on the gay community, yet they persist in portraying us as stereotypically as possible. While this may not bother most gays, remember that we are a small percentage of the population and the hetero community is observing us too.
Pride is another common theme that is daily broadcasted to the gay community, and while I generally have no problem with this, sometimes I wonder if pride is confused with flaunting?
This past summer I was in a restaurant, and sitting in the booth behind me were four teenagers having a contest to see who could outflame each other. Not only was it disruptive, but embarrassing as well! I left right after one of them proclaimed in a voice loud enough to be heard by everyone, "I'm a dick sucking faggot and proud of it!".
Jeez, I wonder how stereotypes start?
Just like in any clique, there's peer pressure within the ranks of the gay community, not only in fashion and music, but also in attitude. I wouldn't be too shocked to see an ad in a gay publication with the phrase "Are You Gay Enough?" above a picture of a gay or lesbian, complete with labels pointing out the various de regueur symbols of a "alternative" lifestyle member.
Another example of queer pressure is how those still in the closet are regarded as somehow being "disloyal to the cause" by the GLBT's that have come out, as if coming out is not one's choice. Just think how many people have been literally murdered, or lost their spouses, children, or jobs because their sexuality was revealed? One is far too many!
This same pressure is applied to young people to come out, the message being that doing so is the greatest thing they can do! The first step to the start of a new life! Sometimes families are accepting, but then there are the horror stories. How many suicides have been the result of parental rejection? How many kids have been literally thrown out of their homes for being gay?
That pressure is everywhere, mostly subtle, but quite clear: Come out and join us. I see it in the some of the other Oasis columns and in gay publications, especially in XY, a magazine I enjoy deeply and one that is targeted to young people. I've heard reports of kids as young as ten coming out! I'm sure the pressure builds up even more as National Coming Out Day approaches!
I'm not against the concept of coming out, but I'm not too comfortable with the idea of people judging me solely on my sexuality. The gay community encourages this by placing emphasis on their gayness above all else, for example, a gay writer or an openly gay actor. Just because I'm bisexual, does than mean everything I do has to be based on that?
As I wrote above, our culture loves to use symbolism, whether it be a pink triangle or a rainbow, or in wearing "gay" necklaces. I refuse to wear any of these items, and I hate the pink triangle above all others! Why? How many people know that the use of the pink triangle originated with the Nazis as a identification symbol for a homosexual -- as part of the six-pointed star Jews and others had to wear? Just think how many of them were murdered because of their sexuality! Gays were also favorites for medical experiments. I'm glad to see that symbol slowly being eradicated from the gay culture, it can't happen soon enough for me!
Until Our Paths Cross Once Again,