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,

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.

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