Society is Silly: On Not Being Gay

That title is a little incendiary. This isn’t an instructional guide on how to not be gay, because that would be an absurd and unnecessary thing to have exist. This also isn’t about the struggle of not being gay, although (insert generic joke about men being easier to ‘read’ than women, or the implicit fun in dating one of one’s ‘bros.’) This is about the silly notion in our society that there is something wrong with being gay, and the perceived need for men to prove their heterosexuality.

Recently James Franco produced a film “heavy on gay sex scenes,” which resulted in rumors about Franco’s sexuality. Franco responded by saying that it wasn’t the first time ‘bullies’ accused him of being gay,

“In high school these girls got mad at me and so they spread this rumor that I was having a gay relationship with one of my closest friends,” Franco said. “And they even made up a little dance they would do in the girl’s locker room about me being gay. I still don’t know what the dance was.”

Why is gay used as an insult in today’s society? The whole thing is very silly. Yet many men, younger men especially, feel the need to prove that they aren’t gay.

I am not above this. I was ‘trained’–even growing up in a middle-class suburb of New York City–to avoid being considered gay. Case in point, I feel the need to point out that I’m straight somewhere in this article. So, I’m straight.

When I was in middle school–or maybe high school, I have bad temporal memory–I remember being worried about being perceived as gay. And I had good reason, in my mind I had effeminate affectations. My voice was high, and some of my physical mannerisms were a bit pantywaist. So I deepened my voice, I made an effort to make it deeper. Beyond my voice getting deeper due to that grand ol’ pituitary gland, I consciously deepened my voice. And it stuck. I still have a deeper voice in certain situations–public speaking, doing standup, job interviews, meeting somebody new, talking to girls I like, talking to stereotypically manly men–than I do at other times. It’s something I can’t avoid, my brain just jumps to it and drops my voice a bit in these situations and more. I sometimes wonder if my regular voice is simply an affectation of how I feel a man of woman-liking-persuasion should sound, and my ‘real’ voice is higher, but I don’t know.

This is all incredibly silly, but I can’t help it, society did it to me. That’s a lame excuse, but it’s true. If my hypothetical middle-school-aged son came out as gay, I’d be like “alright man, just don’t watch Glee in the house,” but then I’d realize it’s awful to accuse anyone of liking Glee, but if I was a straight high school-aged kid again, I wouldn’t want people to think I was gay. I’ve grown up a lot since high school, and now someone thinking I was gay wouldn’t really bother me, but if I lived in a different environment, not Brooklyn, the behavior of my peers might change my thoughts on that.

No one, gay or straight, should have to worry about what other people think of their sexuality. Be okay with yourself, and be okay with other people, and your life, and society in general, will be a whole lot better.

Featured image via Shutterstock

  • Maggiee Underwood

    If you aren’t gay, then the idea of yourself being gay would be kinda taboo. That would obviously cause negative feelings if someone thought you were something that you weren’t. I don’t think it’s necessarily just a stab at being gay.
    Men are programmed to want to prove their masculinity, and for some, this is just part of that.Not to say that this is always the case, but it sounds like normal middle school thoughts to me.

  • Rachel Ariane

    Gender roles and expectations dictating on how men and women should act should not be a rubric to see if someone is out of the closet or not, like using the “gaydar.” I find it ridiculous when people assume I’m a lesbian who calls other women “babe,” “darling,” etc. yet in reality, I’m a straight woman. However, I do all I can to not mind it because in the end, I should only care about myself while not being too selfish as I should be considerate to others at the same time.

    Anyway, great article as always Sean and keep ’em going.

  • Dana M. Abel

    @Maggie I don’t think that “if someone thought you were something you weren’t” would “obviously” cause negative feelings. What if someone met you and assumed you have a different job than you do? Would that cause negative feelings? I live in a college town, and people often assume I am a college student when they meet me, but I don’t feel negatively about that. I think whether or not you have a negative reaction depends on *what* people assume of you. That’s Sean’s point. Why have a negative reaction when people assume you’re gay, but not when they assume you have a different occupation, etc.?

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