Monday, February 7, 2011

Is It Hard for Gay Men to Socialize with Straight Men?

This is an interesting question that was entered into a search engine:

"I am a gay man and find it hard to socialize with straight men."

While I am continuing my series on what interesting searches end up on this blog, I'll depart from my previous line of being bemused to address an issue that, to me, is a a serious concern.

I am a gay man, and yeah -- sometimes I find it difficult to socialize with straight men.  What makes it difficult for me are these things:

1.  The "rules of engagement" are different.  Bro-hugs and handshakes aside, most straight men keep a firm physical distance from any other unrelated guy, and extend that distance into the lines of discussion.  They will talk about mutual interests, such as sports, motorcycles, cars, politics, and so forth, but they will not talk about feelings or emotions (usually, though, tongue-loosening occurs in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed.)

2.  What we have to talk about is more limited.  Sure, I have a number of straight male friends, but our discussions are limited to what we do together or have in common:  motorcycling, community activities, construction trades, and such.  I am uncomfortable around straight guys who are watching or playing sports because I do not watch, follow, or enjoy sports like football, baseball, basketball, etc.  If that's all they talk about (because it is least threatening), then I'm bored silly and return to feeling like I did in grade school, that is, being chosen last to play the position of "left out."

3.  I don't like what some of them say when their tongues get loosened by alcohol.  At the risk of sounding like a prude, I have found that when straight guys drink alcohol, they are more likely to say things that are offensive to gay men -- often without realizing it.  I am beyond being "politically correct."  What I am referring to is two things:  a) talking about women suggestively and sexually -- I'm not interested and find that kind of talk degrading to women;  and b) they use terms of expression that become pejorative about gay people.

Yes, to me, it is hard for gay men to socialize with straight men sometimes -- BUT -- it is harder for me as a monogamously partnered gay man to socialize with only gay men.  I hate to say it, but in my experience, when you put a bunch of gay guys together, the conversation sometimes becomes catty, full of gossip, or goes into topics about things in which I have no interest, either (theater, arts, design, fashion, etc.)

Please understand, I am NOT saying that all gay men talk about the same things or that all straight men talk about the same things, either.  Everyone is different.  There are a number of gay guys who like sports, cars, motorcycling, etc. and can carry a conversation about those topics quite well, as there are straight guys who enjoy theater and so forth, too, and can handle a conversation well.

In my opinion, in the general mix of things, I find socializing with straight guys to be difficult sometimes, but not impossible.  I am selective about what times and locations I may choose to do that.  I try to avoid social occasions where alcohol is involved, to minimize the chances of the "tongue-loosening" problem to which I referred above.  I do not hang out at sports bars or attend "super bowl" parties (such as with my family) because I get tired of feigning interest in something I am not interested in.  My family becomes tired of trying to explain it all to me.  It is best for me to stay away from such situations because it makes both me and my hosts uneasy.

I am uncertain where I am going with this, other than to commiserate with the person who searched this question.  I am open to comments and ideas about this issue, so please leave a comment or send me a message.

Life is short:  know your limitations.


Anonymous said...

Omg, i really undesrtand how you feel, it is so hard to socialize with straight men, maybe because most of the time the stereotype of a straight man is to be interested in sports, and all of those topics, and well.. for me i'm not interested in all of those subjects

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail the right spot. What a bang-on on my sentiments as well. I can't agree with you any lesser. Take care mate, don't give up on yourself. This is life.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean and I personally have trouble making friends because I'm so uncomfortable or uninterested. It's a thin line I guess. I don't have any friends. :(