This past summer I took a two hour car ride with a friend whose IQ actually tested at 210 when he was a kid. Our conversation ranged over a number of topics, but at one point turned to movie stars who are gay. This guy is basically a walking encyclopedia, so was able to fill me in on a fair amount of gossip. A couple of the names he mentioned were surprises; most were not. After we had discussed the subject for a while, I asked, why is this subject so much fun? (My point being, weren't we supposed to be a little more high-minded than this?)
He replied, "Because it allows us to feel superior to them."
I was taken aback by the directness of his response, especially given that he's a playwright, hangs out with the theater crowd in Manhattan, and is pretty much the embodiment of cosmopolitan sophistication.
We're not supposed to think that way, of course. If someone I didn't know well asked me if I felt superior to gay men, I'd probably say what I'm supposed to: "I judge people on how they treat others, not their sexuality."
And it's true -- intellectually, that's what I think. I understand people can't help whom they're attracted to. (And nothing could be more moronic than saying, as some conservatives do, that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice.") I know that gays come in a full range of IQs and encompass all the character types, from nice to evil. As I've stated elsewhere in this blog, I think gays should be allowed to get married and openly join the military. And I've met plenty of gays whom I like.
But at a primal level, it's impossible not to feel superior to guys who go around sodomizing each other. Especially when you remember how revolted you were when you first found out about that concept. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.
My friend's comment got me to thinking. When I'm around gay guys, for instance at a masters swimming meet in New York City, there's a certain comfort level I feel that I don't feel around straight guys. And it's because, in my friend's words, I'm the superior one. When I'm around straight guys, I'm like every other idiotic hetero guy: I feel a consistent low level need to prove my masculinity. It's so low level that I'm mostly unaware of it, though it expresses itself every now and then in various ways -- most of which make me look pretty stupid. But having to prove oneself is not a particularly relaxing feeling. It's almost like having to be on one's guard.
(I'm a typical guy: if you want to manipulate me, question my masculinity -- I'll do anything to prove it. And yes, I admit this is a character flaw.)
With gay guys, I have absolutely nothing to prove. I know, I have to be on my guard with them for a different reason. And the disgust I felt as a teenager hasn't entirely dissipated. But at a certain level I'm also more relaxed around them, secure in the feeling that I am, well, superior.
(Disclaimer: I'm not responsible for my feelings, only for my actions.)
I don't like it when a woman thinks I'm gay. But I absolutely hate it when I think a guy suspects me. (Shouldn't it be the other way around?) This shouldn't bother me that much, but it does.
But I think I know why. Just two days ago in the weight room of the local Y, an older guy who was not only gay, but that particularly queer kind of gay, tried to start a conversation with me. He said, "I've seen you in the pool. You're a good swimmer." The subtext of his comment was quite evident. I wanted to scream out, "Get away from me you disgusting faggot! You make me sick!" But good manners and social conditioning prevailed. I replied, "Thank you." (Though I did say it brusquely enough to end the conversation.) In any case, I would hate to think I was inducing those feelings of disgust in another guy.
All of which sort of sums up my entire attitude on the subject: I have nothing against gay guys (as long as they don't make a pass at me), I just don't want to be mistaken for one.