Monday, September 6, 2010

You Are Who You Hang With

A friend posted a guest blog series about being a straight guy and enjoying leather. In that series, one thing he said is, "you are who you hang with." This is an American expression, but is descriptive of the idea that the company one keeps strongly influences who he is and how he perceives himself.

I looked around and asked myself, "who do I 'hang' with?" Well, generally speaking, I do not socialize much. My life these days is spent with my partner as we go about our daily life, with my 95-year-old aunt for whom I care, with a group of elderly friends who I help out by taking them grocery shopping and doing home repairs for them, with people in my community where I am engaged in various public service activities, and for fun... with my motorcycle riding club. Occasionally, but not very often, I'll go visit a friend who I grew up with, or befriended in college or from one of my previous jobs.

As I looked around, I got to thinking: who I 'hang with' are my life-long friends from school, as well as neighbors who I work with in civic activities. (I have rarely socialized with people with whom I have worked on my day-job.) A few of my friends are gay, but most aren't. I have very few gay friends. Not by design, but by the choices I have made about what I do and where I go. I do not purposefully choose to seek out other gay men to socialize. I avoid venues where gay guys may gather, like bars. I have no problems with gay bars -- I just don't have any reason to frequent a bar. I don't drink alcohol, and I have always had problems remaining awake past 9pm.

Am I perceived as resisting being gay? Perhaps by some gay guys who don't understand that, to me, one chooses his friends based on shared interests. I am genuinely interested in helping others, so the majority of the 'hanging' I do is nailing up a picture hook (giggle.)

Shared interests is not the same thing as shared sexual orientation. So I'm gay. So what? It means that I have chosen a man as my mate. But it doesn't mean that I will change who I choose to serve, to care for, and with whom to enjoy activities like motorcycle riding.

I fail to understand why some gay guys only 'hang' with other gay guys. There is much more to life than one's sexual orientation.

Life is short: hang up the hang-ups!

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