Whilst at a flat party last weekend, I heard a phrase that I’d never thought I would have to hear again: gay best friend. And beyond that, in my dismayed state from hearing the archaic term, I heard six more words that made my skin crawl and want to shrivel up like an autumn leaf: ‘I wish he could be gayer.’ The girl who spoke these words then went on to complain about how annoying it was that her gay best friend wasn’t even that gay – that she wanted him to be even gayer – and found it weird that he ‘actually wanted to focus on his career’ as if having professional ambitions was incompatible with homosexuality. In all fairness, we were all pretty hammered and, apart from her misconstrued view of sexuality, she was a perfectly nice person. But, in my mind, I realised how fed up I was with the stereotypes at play, so I’ll say it: I’m really sorry that I too am not that gay.
As with any other problem, the solution lies within identifying its root, and without any doubt the source of the issue is betrayal in portrayal. Within film, literature, and popular culture, gay men are portrayed as feminine, energy-induced balls of entertainment that exist solely to supplement the image of the straight white girl. It’s the fact that Elle Woods is able to make the conclusion that a witness being questioned is gay, solely off of a remark he makes regarding her shoes. It’s the fact that Damian is nothing but a meagre comical accessory in Mean Girls. And it’s the fact that there’s a literal movie called G.B.F. It’s the fact that hordes of young girls – and even guys – see these films and perceive these roles as the sole ones that gay men are allowed to adopt. And when there’s a discord between reality – when they see gay men acting beyond the constricting roles they’re meant to abide to – it leads to cultural insanity. The aspirations of any gay man has been constrained by these portrayals; the media, like with many other minorities, has betrayed our aspirations, leaving us to succumb to either its restrictive inclusion or isolation.
And personally, speaking on my own behalf, I’m ‘not that gay’ – and I’m not sorry at all. I’m not uptight about fashion; I show up to lectures in track pants and a sweatshirt I wore the day before because I can’t be bothered. I don’t care about brand names; I care about ethics. I don’t listen to the music that I’m supposed to – the cheesy, basic, boy-crazy pop song played over and over that just drone on to their eventual oblivion. Instead, my playlist consists predominantly of R&B, Soul, Funk, Hip-hop, Jazz, and Alternative – quite literally anything but what I’m meant to be listening to. I don’t watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race or say ‘girl’, ‘slay’, or ‘queen’; I watch the news, read books, and use my words to convey meaning, not superficial validation.
Don’t ask to paint my nails or do my make-up. I couldn’t give less of a f*** about the colour of your dim-witted talons. Don’t assume I want to give you fashion advice, and don’t assume that all I want to do is have sex. Don’t wink and ask whether I can still ‘eat meat’ when I tell you I’m vegetarian. And don’t perceive these requests as bitchy or stereotypical – if the bulk of your heteronormative culture perpetuates shallow-minded stereotypes surrounding the nature of homosexuality, I’m sure as hell going to fight back.
I’m not funny because I’m gay; I’m not creative because I’m gay. I’m who I am because I’m me. I’m not full of energy because I’m gay – that energy comes from when I feel good, because, for the most part, I’m consumed by my OCD and paranoia. But you wouldn’t know that it you didn’t seek to look beyond the surface, would you? So I’ll say it: I don’t care if you think I’m being rude, I care about being me – because that’s the only person I ever want to be.