Jan: Types & Stereotypes

Ok, it's the last day of January, so I'm going throw up my (rather disjointed) thoughts about Abe's alternative theme: stereotypes and "gay-/straight-acting".  An excellent topic and one I have long thought about.

My first thought was of a time we visited my missionary grandparents in Nauvoo.  I was eleven or twelvish then, and at that point it had never so much as crossed my mind that I might be gay.  Someone was recording with a video camera; later, the recording was played, but I couldn't see the screen.  I heard the audio, though, and one distinct voice in particular--a voice that instantly caused me to wonder, "Whoa, who's the queer?"  I came over to look at the video and to my amazement saw that the voice that had stuck out so wretchedly emanated from my...self.  This happens regularly when I hear a recording of my voice--I am struck by how gay I sound!  (Of course, part of it is just the way a machine records, but still...)  So, I don't judge people for their outward gayness.  If someone comes off as very effeminate, it's possible that they're 'acting' but much more likely they'e expressing their true selves.  If people are quiet or loud, outgoing or introverted, energetic or unenthusiastic, we accept it as merely part of who they are.  I don't see how this is any different; the animosity between 'femme' and 'butch' is a feud I have never understood. 

As for myself, I embrace neither label.  How I act depends largely on my surroundings.  Am I comfortable?  Do I trust the people I'm with?  What about mood?  (I'm more likely to be passed off as gay when I'm in a high mood.)  If these factors do not align it's more likely that I'll hide behind my usual mask.


In the prompt, Abe asked about the God Loveth His Children reference about 'bringing attention' to one's 'challenges'.  I have always taken issue with advice that tells us to hide our true selves and pretend to be something we're not. It implies that who we are is shameful, ignominious--not exactly a psychologically beneficial mindset.

It is true, though, that in some ways, out people have as much pressure to conform to gay stereotypes as closeted people to straight stereotypes. Either way, it's easy to get pushed around by people's expectations, but the key is the cliché but true 'be yourself'--experience and present yourself to the world in the way you are most comfortable.


MoHoHawaii said...

Over the years I've come to love the masculine and feminine ambiguities of gay people. I found that the more I accepted myself, the more okay I was with seeing a wider variety of gender expression in others.

It is true, though, that in some ways, out people have as much pressure to conform to gay stereotypes as closeted people to straight stereotypes.

I don't buy this. There's no pressure to "act gay" when you come out, but there's A LOT of pressure to "act straight" when you're closeted! After you come out you get to be exactly the person you are inside, whatever that happens to be.

People are saner and less afraid after they come out. This often gives them a calmer affect and reduces compulsive behaviors. They smile more.

Matt said...

I've certainly felt pressure to act gay, especially around female friends who are in relationships and around flamboyantly gay friends.

It's generally unintentional pressure, but it's still pressure.