Our Cookie Cutter Culture

There is a pattern of reaction I have picked up on when friends and family find out that I am gay.

My sister once confessed, “I always thought it would be fun to have a gay brother… but you’re not that gay…”

“You don’t sound much like a gay guy!” My brother has teased.

“You are the first gay guy I have met that I didn’t know was gay.” Gasped a gay friend.

One laughed, “it just never crossed my mind!

Some have smirked, “ahhhh… I don’t think you are…”

As funny as these conversations are, they expose an underlying problem.

The way I have always carried myself has been an honest reflection of who I am. Never have I been attempting to cover up an inner feminine soul nor have I tried to project a Herculean image. I am just… me. I can’t explain it any more than you can about why you are the way you are.

But sometimes, it seems like the world has more expectations for me once they find out I am gay, than they do for me just as a man. Like the script gets switched and suddenly I’m supposed to care about interior decoration and hair product.

But then again, what can you really expect in a society that specializes in one-size fits all clichés?

The media tells us that every gay man is flamboyant and fabulous. He is equipped with an eye for fashion, making him a trusted advisor from everything to shoes, hairdos, and picking out the perfect dress for that thing on Friday. In the kitchen he can whip up a decadent Creme Brulee that will leave you begging for copies of his cookbook. And each and every Friday you can find him at the Salon with his BFF Susie getting dolled up for a night of sipping champagne and dancing like a fool.

My apologies to every Susie out there, but I may not be the buddy you’re looking for.

Because I don’t shop until I drop. No girl should ever trust me with dating advice. I prefer Labs to Yorkies, and under no condition would I shame one by putting it in a purse. When I talk, I don’t use extravagant hand gestures or cute catch phrases. When my hair gets too long, I let my brother buzz it. Night Clubs of all sorts weird me out, and don’t define “a good time” for me. I fancy a Coors over a Cosmos and the Economist over Vogue.

But can I still be your friend… even if I’m not your idea of a gay one?

I know it sounds like I am tooting my own masculine horn, but don’t be mistaken. Like I said, I am no Joe Six Pack. Just ask me to throw around a baseball and you’ll see that.

Also, please don’t read this the wrong way, none of those stereotypes are necessarily bad things.

They just aren’t me.

Yet every time I see Cam and Mitch on Modern Family, or an episode of Glee, this is what I see. Gay men are fully feminine.

Every time the news plays tape of a Pride Parade, I cringe at the Go-Go dancers showcasing the most depraved elements of the LGBT community. All it tells me is that all gay men are promiscuous.

And all this does is reinforce a belief that I still don’t belong. It once again leaves me feeling like a man without a country.

Then I tap the brakes and think.

How true is this pigeonhole persona of the gay community?

My story suggests its not. Same with the stories of my other gay friends. So do the ones of my straight-male-effeminate friends. As do those of “tomboys” and boys who cry.

And let’s not stop here, because honestly, we do this all the time.

We know that…

Not every little girl plays princess and not every little boy plays baseball.

 

Not all moms choose to be full-time homemakers, nor all dads dive into the corporate world.

 

Most Muslims are not extremists and most Mormons are not polygamists.

 

Not every Asian you meet is a Rhodes Scholar and not every African American can dunk a basketball.

 

Some Californians are conservative and some Texans are liberal.

No one is a caricature.

 

These superficial stereotypes based on gender, race and creed are just as detrimental as those dictated to gays and lesbians based upon their sexual identity.

We are a mosaic of tales that cannot be type-casted for the sake of conformity.

Diversity matters more.

RR

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17 thoughts on “Our Cookie Cutter Culture

  1. Fantastic post! I totally get where you’re coming from… as a girl who has never enjoyed or even understood any typically “girly” things (I’m completely hopeless even at things most women consider really basic, like make-up, and women’s fashion completely perplexes me), I feel like I’ve always struggled to find my place in a society that doesn’t seem to think I should have a place at all. I just don’t understand why everybody is so concerned with everybody else’s life, habits, sexuality or anything else.

    This was awesome; I’m following your blog now and looking forward to going back through some of your older posts. 🙂

  2. Thanks for writing this! Ever since I came out I often catch myself asking “am I gay enough?” And then quickly realize how ridiculous this idea is. I was wondering if you might check my blog out as well: secretseminary.blogspot.com

    • Seriously! So many stereotypes can make me feel more crazy than I already am! Checked out your blog… Loved loved loved your post on specialization is not segregation. It was really interesting concept I had never considered before- how do you define “young people”, especially since as you point out, graduation, marriage so forth really don’t apply as accurate markers. Great post!

  3. It’s such a said realization that our society as it is has it hard enough, only to add more confusion to our culture. This made me think back on my last 27 yrs, and to recount how many times my close friends innocently would canter “you’re the whitest black guy we know” or “you’re the straightest gay man i’ve ever meet”. We are a society of labels, and i’m one not to be defined by labels. Growing up I was Captain of the Wrestling team, played football, ran track and cross country, but also cultivated myself in the world of the Arts and food. I don’t fit into a category because at the end of the day the only true person who defines me is He above, and i just live the rest out in good faith.

  4. AMEN! You’re story of being both a sexual and racial minority is one that has to be heard. Far too often we allow cultural stereotypes to color other people’s perception of us. Not that we should care what others think, BUT we should fight for truth. And the truth is that none of us fit into the same box. Thanks Dreamer.

    RR

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