Unabashed Heterophobe (paulnolan) wrote in ontd_political,
Unabashed Heterophobe

Asking For It?

“Well, you do look very gay. Can’t you tone it down a bit?” a straight friend blithely said in response to the recent homophobic bother I’ve been getting and writing about here. Astonishingly, she genuinely seemed surprised when I told her I found what she said offensive. Her argument was that she was only trying to help as I might get less anti-gay grief if I dialled down the, you know, gayness and “acted a bit straighter”.

Ah, the old straight-acting chestnut. Every time someone starts banging on that queer folk should shadow heterosexual behaviour I have this strong urge to channel The Village People and sing showtunes because what I can’t fathom is the sheer arrogance of telling someone, or more accurately an entire social stratum, how to behave. What they’re really saying, of course, is that we should act more like them because their behaviour is right and any deviation from that dominant norm is wrong.

And it’s not just the hetero world that values straight-acting so highly. Nonsensically, it’s ours, too. The reason I don’t see the sense in us lauding the straight act is because surely one of the great advantages of being ‘other’ is that you don’t have to play by the narrow norm’s rules of engagement and can invent your own. Yet straight-acting has become one of the most prized character traits in queerdom. Doubtless it grew out of a need to avoid a good homophobic kicking, but it has become an absolute gay scene mania.

I’ve lost count of the amount of gay people I’ve encountered in my life who are visibly proud when they’re mistaken for being straight when, in actuality, it isn’t anything to be proud of. We really should be ashamed, because if we’re so obsessed with artificially constructing a hetero façade aren’t we, in effect, denying who we are? Doesn’t all this pretence have more than a whiff of self-hatred about it? That’s why whenever another gayer sneeringly says to me, “Oh, you can tell you’re gay” I always respond in the same way: “Good, because I am.”

The point they’re really trying to get at is that I’m a touch on the camp side and camp in the fascist faggot world is as frowned upon as a gay man not shaving his balls. Whereas once it was used as a shorthand for identifying our fellow faggot man in the same way lesbians butched up, over the years camp has become more and more unacceptable. But isn’t it a bit rich for us to moan about being marginalised when we don’t exactly embrace freedom of expression ourselves? Shouldn’t we be practising what we’re preaching? If we don’t, all we’re peddling is hypocrisy.

What does it mean to “look very gay” anyway? Does it mean poncing about in hot pants with a Chihuahua in one hand and a bottle of poppers in the other with a 12inch dildo shoved up your arse? Or dressing head-to-toe in leather topped with a Third Reich-style peaked cap? Are these still the clichés rattling around peoples’ perception? Aren’t they a little last millennium? Isn’t that sort of view borne from the thickness school of thought?

You’d think in this post-metrosexual world that looking faggy – whatever that means because I’m still not sure – was fine, de rigueur even, but the great myth of metrosexuality is that it has heralded some sort of revolution re: masculinity. All it’s actually meant is that it’s OK to look different just as long as that difference can be bought at All Saints or Abercrombie and topped off with a mandatory ‘directional’ Toni & Guy haircut, which is, by definition, the opposite of difference. It’s mainstreaming mass uniformity, not individuality. If you want to rock a look outside the cookie-cutter template, then you still get as much aggro as you ever did.

And so we come to the asking-for-it argument. That’s what my mate said truly boils down to. Essentially, she believes that if I sublimate who I am and what I’m about, then the homophobic bile spewed in my direction would cease and everything would be tickety-boo. That’s the equivalent of saying a woman in an arse-skimming skirt or cleavage-flashing top is begging to be raped. In other words, by simply being myself I am asking for all this unwanted attention. Why should I have to change my behaviour? Aren’t the people screaming hatred at me the ones who need to address what they’re doing? How is me walking down the street somehow seen as a provocation? That’s crazily skewed by any standard.

Ultimately, if anyone who doesn’t toe the prescribed norm party line is slated as fair game to be socially sidelined, then aren’t we heading for blanket blandness? Personally, I don’t want to live in a world that beige because when you erase the colour from life it’s not worth living.

So in answer to my friend, I do not plan to change the error of my apparently overtly poofter ways. I intend instead to carry on with camp business as usual and hope the rest of the narrow-brained world catches up, or, at the very least, shuts the fuck up.

Source: Jason Jones @ GaydarNation
Tags: lgbtq / gender & sexual minorities, opinion piece
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