It occurs to me that, on a certain level, gay men could just be as misogynistic as straight men. I can’t imagine what this level would be though*, maybe approaching Tim Cook. I’m talking about a Baby Boomer or Start-up Gen Xer who think they’re post-racial and beyond gay (meaning white and straight) and have no need for a less than ideal gay subculture when they’re on top of the world.
I couldn’t really begin to tell you what that 1% is thinking, but I can tell you what it’s like to be me.
When people ask me about my first time kissing a woman I have to describe an assault, essentially. A group of us were going out and the topic came up and I said I had never kissed a girl. I think when a gay man says they never kissed a girl a subset of straight people interpret that as “I always wanted to” and before I could explain that I never needed to a friend of a friend had jumped onto me (she was small) and forced a kiss on me.
We weren’t all saints. We were drinking and on drugs, but I was still in control of myself. My mind is a total blank as to what happened next, but I knew I didn’t want to hurt her feelings while simultaneously wanting to push her off and say “yuck.”
I also remember that all of my friends there were women and they didn’t do anything to stop this or to contextualize it as something that shouldn’t have happened.
Thinking about that also made me think about the time when I was 16 years old, working at a video store, and a girl my age thought it was cute to hassle me for my phone number. She put me in such a corner while I was working that I gave her a wrong number, thinking she would take the hint, but she returned a few weeks later to loudly complain that I’d given her the wrong number in front of my coworker. I was still in the closet there, and I suspect a young gay man who is in the closet sometimes reads as a sexless eunuch, and that this type is a sort of catnip for a few persistent people.
There were many dangers to being in the closet, but one prominent danger was to be outed by a woman. In high school you are supposed to chase tail, so I learned to act “above it,” but even this is coded as gay if you’re saavy enough to see through it and girls moreso than boys could see through it.
That’s the key here, the power dynamic that flows between a girl performing heterosexuality and a gay man who is hiding and even one who is Out. If a gay man is assaulted by a woman who can he turn to? If a gay man refuses to “perform” homosexuality for women then he is suspect. Once you’re out, it’s women who are disappointed you don’t fit the stereotypes, and it’s women who go to gay bars and think its cute to hassle you.
Once I got out of there and went to a gay club there were a lot of whispers about girls
“Girls are crazy”
And if you are a woman maybe that’s all you hear, but you never hear the rest of it, how gay men think every subcategory is crazy, how crazy people are crazy. To be in the closet is to be terrified, and to be gay means the Right vilifies you and the Left thinks you’re rude. Heteronormativity like Patriarchy needs support from all sides to thrive. Gay men are Otherized until it’s time to vilify men, and then they are neatly grouped with All Men but without the benefit of privilege. This is the attitude that drives structural inequality, LGBT homelessness, the need for gay clubs, and the heterosexual population’s abandonment of its own gay children.
My hope is that one day there will be a clear path to enlightenment for gay men, one where we can be free of chastisement and vilification, maybe given more love. I didn’t get to where I got to by listening to the Left or the Right, but by understanding my place in the world and the place in the world of the people who would torment me.
Don’t get any of this twisted. I am enthusiastic in my support for feminism, but I realize that it is a specific branch of feminism that I am drawn too, and it is the idea that women don’t belong to anyone and that they sometimes want to be left alone. That’s all I ever really wanted.
*oh NIck Denton! Definitely Nick Denton!