Saturday, August 3, 2013

Are You Straight-Acting?

When I first came out of the closet, I would sometimes say things like: "I am gay, but I played football and I was a Marine!" -- as if that would make things more acceptable and make me feel more manly. In other words, I was a "straight-acting gay."  Now I realize how sadly silly such a statement is, and obviously based on deep insecurities and ridiculous stereotypes. But such internalized homophobia is a common ailment among we gays brought up in a heterosexually-dominated society full of absurd myths and misconceptions about "masculinity" and "manhood."

In fact, I think "straight-acting" straights are just as insecure as "straight-acting" gays and, for that matter, "gay-acting" gays -- "acting" being the key word here.

What the hell is "straight-acting?" I suppose, since I spent much of my life in various insecure stages of denial, suppression, hiding, self-judgment and self hatred -- and acting out the stereotypes, myths and misconceptions of being "straight" -- I was at one time indeed "straight-acting." Personally, I believe my performance was worthy of an Oscar.

Now, when I see gay men state that they are "straight-acting" on places like the "men seeking men" (m4m) posts on Craigslist, or on ManHunt, I sometimes write them and ask: "If you were 'straight-acting' wouldn't you be posting in the 'men seeking woman' (m4w) section or on WomanHunt?" When people tell me, or ask me if I am "straight-acting" I generally respond: "I am emotionally and physically attracted to men. I fall in love with men. I have sex with men. That seems pretty 'gay-acting' to me."

I was recently chatting with a young guy online (I know, big shocker to those of you who know me, right?) and I told him about a date I was going on with an intelligent, cute, fun guy. He asked me if my date was a "straight-acting" guy or "effeminate." Considering that the guy was going on a romantic date with me, who also happens to be a guy, with the potential for it to lead to a possible relationship and sex, it seemed like a strange question. I explained to my young online friend why I think asking if a gay man is "straight-acting" seems strange and funny, to which he responded, "But what else would you call it?"

Good question. What would, or should, we call it? Perhaps we don't have to call it anything -- perhaps we could just accept that we humans come in a wonderfully interesting and diverse array of personalities, traits, behaviors and ways in which we innately desire and crave to experience and express love and sex. I know plenty of gay guys who are strong athletes and I know plenty of straight guys who are pretty good at interior decorating. Some may say they are "straight-acting" gays and "gay-acting" straights -- but the thing is, they're not acting!

It's time to drop the stereotypes, drop the labels, drop the myths and misconceptions of manhood, and start embracing and accepting people, all people, for who and what we are -- starting with and including (and perhaps most importantly) ourselves!

I'm done acting straight, and I'm done acting gay -- I just want to be me, a goofy guy who happens to be emotionally and physically attracted to men. Yes, I know, sounds pretty gay, hey? And indeed it is!

Note: A version of this essay was published in the Advocate on January 4, 2013

1 comment:

  1. Thank You.
    If they allowed this many words in the profiles on all the gay sites I frequent, I would copy/paste this whole post onto my personal profiles.
    I have to laugh at all the supposedly str8 acting gay men on these sites. The ones that really make my head do a 360 are the ones who claim to be "Straight Bottoms"...WTF is that about anyway?