Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Not-so-Gay George, Gay Pride, and Gay Rights


The other night I ran into a man I've known for quite a few years -- I'll call him George. George and I are "bar friends" -- we run into each other once in a while, don't necessarily know that much about each other's personal lives, don't exchange phone numbers or make dates. We were never "ships that passed in the night." We just talk, have drinks, laugh a lot.

I'm very fond of George. he has a great sense of humor and is a lot of fun. George is very flamboyantly gay, and loves to get tight and "carry on" a bit. Yes, he can be a little ... well, overpowering ... at times but he seems to have a basically kind nature.

We were enjoying our conversation when I said to him -- as I often say to people -- "I love being gay, I love being part of the gay community -- don't you?"

I expected that he would readily agree, but instead he replied in the negative. Not only did he not like being gay, I got the impression he didn't even think it was particularly okay to be gay.

Now, because he is very "obvious" he may have had to deal with a great deal more persecution than the average gay guy (although some of his "flamboyance" is created by his "camping it up," which of course he has a perfect right to do if he wants to) but I felt a bit shocked and saddened by the disparity between his happy gay outward image and the inner negativity that apparently is his constant reality.

He may have had a sad life -- I know he's told me of some things -- but there isn't a person alive who doesn't have some sadness in his or her life. I suspect he never found the great love of his life that he was looking for. I don't know what else might have gone "wrong." But I got the impression that he was one of these people who blame their sexual orientation for their unhappiness. You can try and tell them that they might be just as unhappy if they were straight, but they'll never believe you. Their internalized homophobia is too deeply entrenched.

This kind of personality is not limited to the gay community of course. There are undoubtedly members of other minorities/oppressed groups who tell themselves they would finally be happy if only they belonged to some other group. It's so easy to blame your orientation or skin color or anything else. Sometimes people step into their own traps and have nobody to blame but themselves, and this of course is the most difficult thing to deal with of all. How much easier to say "I'd be so much happier if I were hetero." Not likely. Happiness can often be based on external things, but just as often it has to do with your state of mind.

People like George distrust, even hate, Gay activists. When I mentioned how I had been -- still am -- a militant activist he launched into some story about a bunch of gay guys talking about sex in front of some kids at Disneyworld. What on earth had that to do with anything? What has that got to do with Gay Rights? But this is how people like George think -- to them the gay movement has less to do with promoting healthy attitudes about gays both within and without the community, with securing the rights that every human being deserves, than it has to do with the right of people to be vulgar in public or something along those lines. I said to him, "I don't think the National Gay Task Force or anybody else is saying it's necessarily okay to talk about sex -- gay or straight -- in front of little kids." But that to him was "Gay Rights."

The irony is that if George camped it up or was just being himself down in Disneyworld, I can imagine some of the looks he would get and comments he would engender. Those awful gay activists would go to bat for him if something went wrong, I can tell you.

But George will never believe it.

I still like George, hope to run into him again. But I don't think I can ever see him in quite the same way. He is so gay -- one type of gay, at least -- but he is completely devoid of gay pride.

You see, I really do love being gay. And I have difficulty relating to gay people who don't feel the same.

1 comment:

Rhea said...

Oh, that's sad. At times it's hard being gay, but if you want to have a good life, you have to just get over some of that. Too bad about George.