With so much talk about gay rights, these days, many folks who, in the past, would have stayed in the closet are coming out. Same sex marriage articles are everywhere on the internet and the number of States that allow gay marriage is increasing. Discrimination against homosexuals, while still prominent and powerful in conservative circles, is gradually decreasing and society is becoming more accepting of what is termed the "alternative lifestyle". At the same time sexual orientation discrimination lawyers are making a fortune as many western countries are introducing anti-discrimination laws and are, in general, becoming less tolerant of homophobic behavior.
But does a homosexual man really feel any happier today in 2013 than he would have felt in the 1980s or 1970s? I would say that the answer is a definitive "yes". Unquestionably, haters and homophobes are still out there, "gay people and aids" is a topic that seems to have been forgotten, but yet in 2010 61% of all new HIV infections reported have been from gay/bisexual men [according to aids.gov]. It's not as fair as I would like it to be and it's very far from a utopia but things are moving forward and at a good pace. As a famous slogan says "it gets better" and that may be applied both to each of us in our personal evolution as individuals as well as to society as a whole. A Gay man can talk about his boyfriend with his brothers or sisters on Facebook, a lesbian couple can share their wedding photos with their friends on Twitter and a passionate gay kiss in a teen drama is no longer a big deal! Twenty or even ten years ago these would have sounded like unattainable goals (especially since Facebook and Twitter didn't exist). But I am digressing...
What Compelled Me to Write This Article
This is my very first article on Infobarrel.com. Instead of giving tips about money making niches or cross hatching in pencil drawing (stay tuned!), I want to share my personal experience about how I struggled with myself and evolved into a better individual and tie my own growing pains as a teen (quite a few years ago) to a topic about a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common in the gay community: internal prejudice. And I am not talking about repressed homosexuality which leads to aggressive behavior and homophobia, ala Karofsky in Glee. The gays who discriminate other gays I have in mind have come to terms with their sexual orientation. They discriminate against other gay men because of the way they look, their race or the way they act.
Discrimination Against Gays Within the Gay Community
Of all minorities out there, gay people should be the first ones to condemn discrimination. Most of the time, a gay man is the son of straight parents. Family and close friends are, for some, the very first source of discrimination. This very rarely happens with racial discrimination as the parents or guardians of the child are usually the same race, or, at the very most, they had been open minded enough to adopt him or her. And besides, gay bullying is nowadays much more common than racist-motivated discrimination in schools. A research by Peter Llyod concluded that in Taiwan, 1 in 5 or 20% of Taiwanese gay people have attempted suicide.
And yet discrimination against homosexuals in the gay community itself seems to be very popular and increasing more than ever. It mainly takes three forms based on look, on race and on the way a person behaves. The first two are nothing new and exist in the same measure among straight people as much as they exist in the gay community. However while a straight male may not show such prejudices towards other males as he doesn't see them as potential lovers or sexual partners, the need to "hang out" with other men that correspond to one's ideal of "beauty" seems to be heightened in the gay community. This often creates a double burden on those gay men who don't look exactly like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. Prejudice against Afro-Americans is also becoming increasingly common. One only needs to check out the first gay dating site that comes under his radar to see how true this is. Want to bet that among the first ten messages one can find there two will have either a "no fats" or a "no blacks" in them? Charl Van den Berg, who won Mr Gay 2010 said:
"Although I'm painfully aware that as a South African we have a Constitution that is based on sexual equality, I think our biggest obstacle to this equality is not what we perceive to be so called heterosexual prejudice. Our biggest obstacle to true equality is our own internal prejudice within the gay community."
While it's highly arguable which of these two forms of prejudice are the worst, it's unquestionably true that some gay people need to be more supportive with other members of the community and to say no to any and all form of discrimination, particularly the third form which is discriminating against gay men who look too feminine. This is something I can myself relate to, as previously mentioned, at the time when I was a young adult. I have always abhorred any form of prejudice against any minority. However, partly because I was raised in a highly conservative religious family and partly because I had no contact whatsoever with other gay people other than a couple of exceptions, I had a totally wrong idea regarding what "being gay" actually meant.
To me, it meant "being feminine", "being introverted", "hating sports"...and of course loving Madonna! That was basically what the media, at the time, was telling us about "gay people". It amazes me that to this day there are so many who still think this is exactly the case. Yesterday, I was browsing a social networking site and came across a young gay man who was saying how much he hated himself because he does not want to be gay. And he continued saying that he didn't feel like that for religious reasons or because he hated the idea of falling in love with another man, but because he hated doing stuff like shopping, fashion, watching the Bold and the Beautiful... It's a shame that to this day, people still have to feel like this. Teachers and educators need to step in and let young people who feel this way know that being gay is NOT a lifestyle NOR a choice. You can be gay and crush beer cans on your forehead. You can be gay and love football. You can be gay and swear like a drunken sailor, hate fashion, and not know who Brooke Logan Forrester is. So sad that people still believe in "gaydars" or write whole books about "how to tell if your boyfriend is gay". The only thing "being gay" truly means is that you fall in love and sleep with a member of your same sex. Everything else is pure prejudice. Honestly, out of every ten gay men I know, two at most can be remotely described as being feminine. People who are struggling with thoughts like these, should first try to meet other gay people being it in a bar or dating site online, whenever a chance to do so pops in front of them. The truth is that masculine gay guys are far more common than feminine ones.
But this obviously doesn't give the right to those who have come to terms with who they are and their sexuality to be rude or even cruel with feminine men. Do we really need to add a "q" at the end of "lgbt"? The "q" stands for queer and is meant to refer to feminine gay men as if they are a whole "different category" of gay people. The idea that the modern masculine gay man is to be considered a new and improved form of gay (version 2.0 so to say) over the old 1.0 stereotypically "queer" version just serves to create more labels. There's already too many of them. Labels are only good to create more division and discrimination against those that are labelled.
People are unique individuals with a broad range of personalities. Sexuality is an important part of that personality but does not define us as human beings nor is it a measure of our worthiness as members of the human race. Going out and meeting others is a great way to learn to know ourselves better. And by "know" I don't mean having sex with or talking about Brooke Logan Forrester (the reason I keep mentioning her is because I actually dislike this character so much...just in case you're wondering). What I mean is trying to know a person for real, his or her dreams, fears, expectations, the scars which he or she has in his or her heart. And this irrespectively of the way people look, their race or the way they behave. When we'll be able to do this we'll be on our way towards a true 2.0 upgrade. ...and our foreheads will feel a lot better too without those cans of beer crashed onto them too!