Thursday, July 21, 2011

Straight Men and Gay Men, Part 2

This is a follow-up to my blog post from yesterday titled, "Is It Hard For Straight Men To Be Around Gay Men?"

The following is a guest blog piece. It was written by Kevin, a friend who frequently contributes to this blog. He is gay (so when he refers to "us," he is referring to gay men).

I appreciate having such an intelligent, thoughtful friend to bounce ideas like this off of. He always responds with well thought-out ideas. Tune in tomorrow for Part 3, written by a straight friend of mine with his perspective.

Kevin shares his insightful commentary with us:

I found the post you reference to be quite interesting. The author makes a good point as he is willing to address his fear. He correctly identifies the fear of what others will think as a primary motivation for homophobic behavior. It's also a fear of how he will be treated by those he now disagrees with.

Let's face it, many of us remained in the closet because of the fear of rejection. Where we risk rejection by choosing to live the lives we were intended to because that's the way we're wired, our straight allies risk rejection for choosing to say to their friends, family, and co-workers that they no longer believe in the same things in quite the same way.

As people we gravitate to those who make us feel comfortable and with whom we share common values and outlooks. I look to lessons learned during the civil rights struggles where sympathetic whites were sometimes subjected to even greater cruelties because they were seen as traitors. An even more on-point example is the reaction of some to Cuomo in New York in calling on the Catholic Church to deny him communion because of his support of same-sex marriage.

Sympathetic straights also come under scrutiny by both camps. The homophobes may question their sexuality, but the LGBT community will always view them as outsiders who truly don't understand us. Since "gay" has come to be far more inclusive than other differences, there's a pressure to accept all or nothing. Our own sense of identity as LGBT individuals vary widely as we strive to carve a niche for ourselves that incorporates this trait of sexuality but doesn't serve as our primary designation. However, sympathetic straights aren't always given this latitude. So we now have the fear of being judged because of an inability to accept the extreme as well as the conservative.

But those fears only scratch the surface since they deal with how to relate to others. I believe the true fear is that being exposed to that which makes us uncomfortable, forces us to examine what we believe and why we believe it.

As it relates to homosexuality, I believe the true issue lies in what we believe about men and women. We have a long way to go before men will view women as equals. The roles of husband and wife and attitudes about women are still fairly entrenched in the Victorian era. The man is dominant and the woman submissive. In those instances where dominant women existed, property laws were firmly in place to ensure male dominance.

For a straight man to physically distance himself from a gay man suggests that he views human interaction in terms of mating behavior. In his mind, when sexuality is introduced, the knowledge that another man is gay suggests that the man's only interest in him is sexually motivated. After all, his primary interest in interacting with women is based on this metric, so it stands to reason that the same applies to gay men in our relation to all other men. If he perceives himself as bigger and stronger than the gay man, he thinks of him as the woman. He views himself in the opposite light if the gay man is bigger and stronger. Either way he feels uncomfortable.

Some straight men profess to consider homosexuality wrong but have little problem with lesbianism when presented for their entertainment and control. The pornography industry has capitalized upon this for decades. Those same men have problems with gay men because those same rules of dominance and submissiveness don't readily apply yet they try to force the dynamic. One must be the woman and the other the man in the relationship.

Yet, when one looks at the top/bottom dynamic in some gay relationships, our society affords men with privilege that still forces one to look at the relationship as one of equals. Straight women may fall into a similar expectation of behavior. Those who offer the loudest protest to same-sex relationships seem to believe that somehow they lack something that only men can bring to the relationship. Talk of equal partnership is just talk at the end of the day. For these women, the Victorian sensibilities as they relate to men, women, sexuality, and sexual intercourse are what they seek.

I appreciate Kevin's insights, and hope you find his post and thoughts as intellectually interesting as I have.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 written by a straight friend of mine.

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