Has this ever happened to you?
You’re sitting in a lecture at college about republican (note the little “r”) ideals, and you bring up an article you read somewhere about national policy limiting the ability to experiment socially. That way, the nation could weed out bad policy and adopt the crème de le crème.
You use gay marriage as an example, because it’s really the only social experiment you know anything about… and as you are speaking, you look around the room and notice that people are looking knowingly at your haircut and winking to each other.
And all of the sudden, you’re not bringing up a socially relevant point. You are just a bitch with an agenda.
It’s happened to me several times lately, because with the conservative backlash of the last eight years, University of Houston is not as accepting as it once was. But the slide back towards Leviticus didn’t start at my school. It’s an epidemic across the country.
When President Bush was asked if he’d seen Brokeback Mountain, a smile came to his lips, but it was not one of pleasure. It was, “how am I going to wriggle out of this one?” because tough ranch hands are supposed to stay away from gay-themed movies. It might be catching.
My sister tells me that among her straight friends, things are even worse, because then people feel free to say the bigoted things that people say when they don’t think anyone of the group they’re targeting is in attendance.
And when I think about it, I know she is right. I am not an authority on heterosexuality, but when I look back on my experience as half of a heterosexual couple, I know that one of the things that bothered me the most was that when I held my boyfriend’s hand or kissed him in public, people felt comfortable saying those things in front of me because they didn’t know my history…
But if they had, I’m sure it wouldn’t have changed their behavior. I’ve learned from experience that if you try to tell bigots that they are being bigoted, they don’t apologize and try to learn from your experience.
They just get better at hiding their prejudice.
If it seems like I’m being bitter, I will apologize right now and invite you to come back to Clever Title on a day when I’m feeling particularly jubilant. Today is just one of those days where I’m realizing that I’m just so tired.
I’m tired of people accepting gays as long as they’re outlandishly fey and bitchy, like Sean Hayes playing Jack McFarland on Will & Grace. I’m tired of men saying it’s okay to be lesbian because that’s hot, but using “faggot” as an epithet. I’m tired of speaking in my classroom and realizing in the middle of a sentence that it might not be all right to talk about my life as it really is. I’m tired of the media’s idea of lesbian humor being limited to power tools, as if getting to act like men is the only reason to live in a household without them.
There are going to be millions of people who disagree with me on this point, but I think it is much harder to be a lesbian than it is to be a gay man. Many, many diatribes have been written on why it’s easier to be a lesbian because straight men think it’s hot and therefore lesbians experience less homophobia than their male counterparts. Why do I disagree? Because when you get right down to it, households with two men are still households with MEN. Since when has it been socially acceptable to be female in America and have any emotion but subservience? Men think lesbians are more acceptable because we are capable of arousing them, and thereby serving them. We aren’t bashed because we aren’t important enough to matter. Instead, we are continually, doggedly sexually harassed.
When I was married, my wife had a friend that I’ll call Christine. My wife and I flew to Boston for Christine’s graduation from college, and the night before we flew home, Christine’s father saw my wife kiss me in greeting and proceeded to come on to me for the rest of the evening… in front of his wife, who was sitting across from me at our table. I could feel her embarrassment and she could feel mine.
And that’s just one of the stories I’ll talk about… but they all contribute to my feeling of fatigue. I live for the day when my girlfriend/partner/wife can introduce me as such without worry… but that’s not going to happen until all women, gay and straight, have the power to stand on their own two feet (choosing between hiking boots or high heels, thanks) and continue to fight for strides in equality with men.
And so, in closing, a few words from Larry the Cable Guy: