WOW, that guy’s acting really gay! Do you see the way he’s standing, the way he’s walking, the way he has his hands on his hips?
The general response to the question was, yes, when someone was younger, but not anymore. Just as I’ve reflected on Feminism in the past, I will reflect on my experience regarding gay stereotypes, and my experience avoiding them.
Statements like those noted above are said by everyone, gay or straight. There’s no doubt everyone has witnessed or been at fault for re-enacting a gay stereotype. I will focus on my own experience as a gay man avoiding gay stereotypes.
Coming into one’s own is crucial for personal identity development. When a gay man begins to discover his sexual identity, he goes through many emotional stages.
I remember when I was in my first year of university, away from home for the first time, able to finally express my sexuality. Even with no parental roadblocks, I put them up myself. When you’re young (and gay) you purposefully avoid every and any stereotypical gay behaviour, especially if you are first discovering who you are and how you want to identify or project yourself, whether it is in the queer community or in straight society.
I avoided every single gay stereotype. I come from a Polish Roman Catholic family where homosexuality is frowned upon, I have 3 younger siblings who, at the time, were extremely immature and would not have known how to deal with an older gay brother, and the area where my family is (still) situated is ridden with a small-town, conservative mentality. I pretended my female best friend was my girlfriend. I never associated or hung out with anyone who was gay. If I was caught talking to someone who I knew was gay by a straight friend, I awkwardly left the conversation and left my gay friend hanging. My gay life was all behind the scenes. I feel as if I experienced a certain type of internalized homophobia. I know I wasn’t alone. I met my first boyfriend in my second year of university, and he had issues with his gay identity just as I had.
As my university years progressed, I became more relaxed about how I was portraying myself as a gay man and slowly started to care less and less about projecting certain gay stereotypes. I had met and shared close friendships with a core group of people who allowed me to express and be my true self, without thinking about my actions that would cause others to poke fun at or mimic.
I came into my own when I moved to Toronto after my undergrad to pursue my postgrad. That was when I really discovered who I was, what I cared for, what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be. I realized that being gay was only part of my identity. I began to play on gay stereotypes. It became a joke to me. Life isn’t fun unless you can laugh at yourself. I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive and loving family (yes, everyone has matured), as well as supporting and loving friends. If I can’t embrace who I am, certainly others won’t be able to embrace it. I love everything about who I am and who I have become. WHO CARES?! I’m gay and damn proud to be gay. I love being gay.
Depending on how comfortable you are, on how far along you are in developing your sexual identity, on how well you handle the perceptions of others with regards to your own behaviour, you will always be conscious of gay stereotypes. Whether one chooses to embrace them or dismiss them is up to the individual. Everyone goes at their own pace in terms of sexual identity, and that needs to be respected. You will encounter immature gay men who, young or old(er), will continue to avoid and even make fun of gay stereotypes. Eventually (and hopefully), they, too, will come into their own and realize, WHO CARES!? You are who you are, and you should be damn proud of it.
Editors Note: Please welcome our newest freelance writer Christiaan joining Homorazzi.com. Christiaan hails from Toronto and will be sharing his opinions on topics discussed in the popular show “1 Girl 5 Gays” airing on MTV Canada and Logo (US). Give him a warm welcome and be sure to give feedback on his posts. I know he’d appreciate it. Also, let us know how you feel about the latest addition to our team.