Thursday, September 11, 2008

In a recent post I wrote about the plight of the gay man, how we often yearn to be macho in ways we aren't. David commented "That is the great unspoken truth of modern homosexuality -- the silent, internal distrust of our masculinity." But I have to wonder, am I past attempting this gender sleight-of-hand? When did I stop trying to pretend or modify my behaviour?

As years go by, I fake it less and less. I don't attempt to play sports a) because I can't, and b) because I don't care to. There was a time when I'd pretend to enjoy a round of basketball or a quick trip to the hardware store. I felt it was my duty, as a boy, to find joy in these things.  I do not feel that need anymore.  I admit, though, I sometimes find myself altering the way I walk when I'm in small towns or stores that sell auto parts.  It's deep-seated, this quelling of flamboyance. I might slump my shoulders a bit, or toss a hitch in my gait implying a football injury from high school. And when I catch myself doing these subconscious things, I often get resentful, instead tossing my hair or cocking a wrist, just to prove I'm not ashamed.

Coming out was as much that thing as television and movies make it out to be. While I try not to over dramatize such events, it certainly did change my life. Suddenly I wasn't a boy trying to pass as straight and I could do the things I'd always been compelled to do but stopped myself just this side of jazz hands. Like wearing fitted clothes. And sitting with one leg draped over the other. And copping to an adoration of Broadway and Nicole Kidman's shoes. It was so freeing to finally be what I so obviously was.

Perhaps when a gay boy inevitably comes out of the closet, the pink elephant in the room takes up residence there.

I grew up in a house where phrases like "toughen up" and "don't be so sensitive" were fairly common. For some reason, we don't like it when our boys have emotions.  My sister now has two boys of her own and we talk about these sort of gender issues all the time. How amazing it is that anyone would discourage "sensitivity", though it happens constantly. We are, as a people, obsessed with our centuries-old gender roles.  What a shame we can't be well-rounded people with traits of all kinds, masculine and feminine combined.  

2008 marks my full acceptance of myself.  Not only do I walk how I walk, say the word "fabulous" without hesitation, and cry openly during commercials, but this coming November I will proudly attend our best friends' wedding as the Maid of Honor.  I'd like to think I'm doing it like Patrick Dempsey, but know it'll come off more like Rupert Everett.  I'm okay with that, I'm gonna do it my way.  I might not go as far as having ringlets ironed into my hair, but I'll definitely cry when I help Natasha into her dress.  I'll spend the night adjusting her hair so it's just right.  And when she throws a bouquet I will join that group of girls and I will slaughter them.  I'm next, bitches, so step off.


  1. Three years ago in December, I was a "man of honor" in my best friends wedding. It was a great experience. I was surprised by the amount of people who hadn't heard of guy standing on the brides side. Enjoy. Don't forget to blog about it and take pictures.

  2. I am not gay nor a man so I can never say I understand fully. However having so many friends that are gay has made me see how difficult it is to be yourself in life at times. I am ashamed to live in a world that does not accept people for who they are. Congrats to you for coming into your own. To know who you are and wearing it proudly.

    Please share pictures of the flower show down. All those "single gals" don't know what they are up against.

  3. I guess what I meant by that line about insecurity was that even though we can embrace our sexuality (and I certainly did embrace mine; I was the second-gayest man in Toronto for a few weeks there), and even become nonchalant about it over time, we may never really reach the point where it doesn't matter. That is, we can be OK with being gay, but can we be OK with other people not being OK with it?

    I'm halfway through an article at salon on the subject of whether or not one is "born that way," and the interviewee, a neurologist, longtime gay rights activist and man in his late 60s, said, "Beginning my sophomore year in college, and before my first gay experience, I began the endless rounds of psychiatrists and counselors. I even tried to modify my behavior to make it acceptable. Sadly, even though I now know better, and am fully aware of the overwhelming evidence as to the underlying neurobiologic predisposition to gayness, I have never been able to entirely shake this feeling of guilt and wrongdoing."

    In other words: you can rationalise being gay, parse your feelings logically, and reaffirm the healthiness of your sexuality daily, but what you learn before you turn 10 is literally wired into your brain. Knowing it's wrong isn't enough; I don't think we're ever capable of fully and completely feeling it's wrong.

  4. I just reread that; I meant that what we were taught as children is wrong, not that being gay is wrong. Obviously.

  5. love this post and love your blog. i 2nd dawn marie - please share photos of the showdown for the boquet-lol.

  6. See, and I never feel like I am gay ENOUGH.

    Guys in Utah are so unbelievably comfortable with the more... feminine (let's say) aspects of themselves, I swear, the only way to distinguish yourself as a gay man is to be actually having gay sex right there.

  7. Wow, Jory. That's eye-opening and shocking. Utah sounds like a wonderland! I always thought it was just an accent-neutral wasteland. ;)

  8. It's HELL. It's like trying to find the glitter on a see of sequins. (That might be the gayest thing I have ever said)

    However, we are neither accent neutral (see #2), nor a wasteland.

  9. Ugh, also, I mean "sea."

    That'll teach me to comment at 1 am.

  10. I guess I'm thinking of somewhere else? Which state has the most neutral North American accent? Where there are a ton of call centres? I didn't really mean wasteland.

  11. "toss a hitch in my gait implying a football injury from high school."

    you are KILLING me!

  12. When John and I drove cross country and were somewhere in the wasteland of middle america, I remember walking into a roadside trucker bbq place (recommended in some travel book) filled with just straight up scary ass trucker dudes. Not a woman in sight. And I was overwhelmed with this total rush of nervousness that caused me to whisper "just don't act gay." I'm not even sure now what exactly I meant (don't high pitch squeal? Flail your arms about? Talk about Judy Garland?) but I still harbor this miniscule sense of guilt in saying that because I felt like I was TOTALLY unnecessarily saying "Don't be you." Though we talked about it throughout those stretches of the trip and he already was able to identify the moments where he was glad to be with me so we could let people assume we were a couple. Just a lot of layers there, I guess. An interesting topic for sure.

    Also, sweet sentiments about your Maid of Honor role in Natasha's wedding!