You Know How I Know I’m Gay?
I haven’t been “gay” with a guy in quite a while, but I still consider myself as gay as it gets.
I identify strongly with the gay community, but sometimes the gay community does not identify with me like the times that i have been called nigger by white gay men.
I have very little in common with Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary, but we are both considered gay.
So, what exactly does it take to be “gay”?
I posted an open thread with this question on Bilerico on Sunday which got some fascinating responses. I threw out the question after reading a post on Four Four called Just Because I’m a Fag, Doesn’t Mean I’m a Bitch. In that post Rich writes about an absurd offer from the editor of an unnamed publication to write an article about the How to Be Gay course at the University of Michigan. Besides requesting the homo equivalent of a shuck and jive “humor” piece, the editor gave an impossible deadline of only 21 hours and I think Rich was right to decline the offer.
I only included this small excerpt from Rich’s lengthy and incredibly smart post in the open thread:
What exactly does it take to be gay? It depends on the person, and how willing he is to actually be one.
I consider myself to be gay 24/7. Does that mean my thinking is all gay, all the time? No, but it does mean that even when I am not thinking about or doing things that are explicitly gay my thinking in and of itself is gay. By that I don’t mean that I subscribe to some Stepford Gay code of orthodoxy from which a failure to comply means that I will be voted off the Homo Island.
It means that my sexual orientation is an essential part of who I am and informs any decision that I make and every thing that I do. I don’t necessarily do everything in a gay way, but every single thing I do is gay.
I think that Rich’s is dead on when he says:
The gay experience is actually so splintered that about the only across-the-board common factor we share is the option of picking up whatever splinter we want, in terms of interest and behavior.
As gay men, we don’t have to abide by the incredibly narrow gender roles that straight men adhere to for fear of being labeled gay. You know, the rules that say that boys don’t cry, must have a “not gay” seat between them at the movies and don’t worry about whether or not their butts look great on those jeans. By that same token I don’t feel as if I have to live up to anybody’s idea of what it means to be gay but my own. Its my gay in my way. And, my way of gay may be, and most likely is, different from your way of being gay.
That doesn’t make me better and you worse. It doesn’t make you gayer and me less gay. It means that the outdated strictures of what it means to be gay and not be gay don’t apply. It means realizing that your way of being gay works for you and my way of being gay works for me and that really is what makes us gay.