I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine last week where I was complaining about how I don’t get along with most gay men. She sympathized, noting how hard it is for her to make friends with women.
Another friend e-mailed me recently letting me know that she’s finding it hard to fit in with the LGBT subculture in a major American city where she recently moved. I initially (stupidly) thought that I could offer some words of comfort since I’ve been out longer than she has. As I wrote the e-mail, though, I realized that I had nothing to say on the matter. I’m out, yes, but I don’t belong to the subculture, do I? I have about 7 – 8 LGB friends in my life that I consider close – not including my boyfriend, all but two of them are women.
At the time of the conversation mentioned at the beginning of the post, I wondered to myself if I was simply self-hating. I find myself posing the same question to myself again. Am I simply another gay man incapable of accepting himself for who he is, who would like to be able to pass, who would like to be considered straight-acting?
As far as the question of “straight-acting” goes, I’d like to shoot that down right away. I am happy to acknowledge my orientation. Did my blog’s name give it away for you?
My problem is that I don’t want to buy in the to expectations held out to us as gay men that we often help perpetuate. I am critical of these expectations, because I see how eagerly I bought into them for a time – and how I sometimes still stumble back on them. Not all expectations or stereotypes are necessarily bad or wrong. What is incontestably wrong with them, however, is when we limit ourselves and our identity, when we don’t dare push outside the lines that society has drawn for us where we have come to feel comfortable.
Being queer means rejecting dichotomy and erasing the boundaries that are set up for us. Hence why I prefer identifying as “queer” rather than “gay”.
How do you balance belonging without taking on all the baggage that gets added on? How do you negotiate your identity with what society tells you you are?