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Gays behaving badly

Isn’t it time we ‘cut the crap’ and started to treat each other with the respect we all deserve?

“Did you see what that guy just did?”, my friend Emma exclaimed as we stood in the queue for the cinema. She continued to recount in disbelief, how a gay guy stood next to us had taken a step back, looked me up and down from head to toe and then turned back around again dismissively.

“Like he was inspecting a new bookshelf in Ikea, and then decided it to be below his standards”? I asked.

“Yep exactly like that”, she concurred.

“It happens all the time”, I assured her with a nonchalant shrug. Whilst I may have grown accustomed to this behaviour within the gay community, I have never been able to accept it. Call me old fashioned if you will, but when I’m ogling a guy I at least try to do so discreetly and not resort to such brazen stare-downs.

I should point out my sartorial choices on the day included a Topman plaid shirt, navy straight leg jeans, and suede desert boots; a bit geography supply teacher on dress down Friday. Hardly a look that should elicit such a response, I think you will agree.

 

Whilst there is still much work to do, the lives of gay people (in most of the western world at least) have improved immeasurably. But unfortunately, our own personal demons seem to be as prevalent as ever.

It’s abhorrent how the world has treated gay men; but it’s also dispiriting how gay men still treat one another.

Gay guys are well-known for their acerbic put-downs and withering criticisms. What may seem like harmless banter in gay friendship groups, can over time develop into a deep resentment. We’re all a mass of vulnerabilities and who knows what seemingly innocuous remark can provoke them?

It doesn’t take much time in the psychologist’s armchair to uncover where much of this behaviour stems from. As Alan Down explains in his book The Velvet Rage: “Because we have such a low tolerance for invalidation, we also are hypersensitive to it in our environment.”

Over the years I’ve lost count of the myriad occasions, I have been speaking to a gay guy, who pretends to listen to you but is in actual fact looking over your shoulder, scanning the room/party to see who else he can talk to.

It transpires this behaviour is pervasive on the gay scene. So much so, it has even been given a name – ‘glistening.’

But to my mind the real blemish on the gay community’s character is that of femme-phobia- the discrimination of camp/effeminate gay guys by fellow homosexual men.

The media portrayal of gay men was traditionally stereotypically camp and many feel this has led to an inaccurate representation of gay men as a whole.

But why so much value is placed on the misguided belief that one person or even a section of a community, could represent such a large and diverse group of people such as gay men, is in itself absurd. In 2018 we should be able to see this thinking for what it is – antiquated and outdated.

“It’s much harder for me to come out, I don’t behave like you”, was a comment frequently levelled against me, by erstwhile gay friends. But as soon as alcoholic beverages were consumed by these ‘straight acting’ gays, nights out would invariably be filled with eye-rolls, limp wrists and hips swaying aplenty.

It’s inevitable that much of the discrimination gay people have faced during their development years would be internalised. Femme-phobia is just another example of how this shame has manifested.

What could possibly be the most important lesson to be taken from growing up gay; surely it must be to accept others for who they inherently are. It’s a real shame this life lesson seems to have been lost on so many of us.

Truthfully what is the real measure of masculinity? Is it the clothes you wear, the width of your bicep?

In my book, it’s having the courage to be your authentic self and to do the right thing even when it’s hard or means having to stand alone. I think that takes far more courage or ‘balls’ than to appear ‘straight acting’. Bigotry of any kind, it certainly isn’t. We’ve all experienced the pain of discrimination and prejudice; let’s make sure we don’t inflict it on one another.

Jonny Harvey

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