Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Gay Suspicion

When someone vehemently denies being gay or homosexual, the nature of his/her defence often tells a story about attitudes towards queer-ness.

A strong vocal denial shows that being gay is a bad thing. Judging by the reactions of quite a number of straight men, and to a lesser extent straight women, being queer obviously has its disadvantages.

So in order to salvage some heterosexual pride, these persons take offence to such insinuations and become defensive about these suggestions.

While there is no denying that personal homophobia plays a large role in these averse reactions, we need to recognise that society plays a part in making "being gay" an undesirable thing.

For a long time, gay-ness is seen as contrary to masculinity, although I believe there is proportionately more masculine gay men than straight men.

To (be) identified as gay confers the person stigmatism, guilt and hatred. These tag along with the gay identity. The concept of sin and immorality figure in the guilt-trappings of the "gay" label, and because of this, it becomes almost natural for heterosexual men to quickly deny and discard the "gay" suggestion.

The "hell no, I'm not gay" type of answers reveals the fact that the "gay" position occupies the lower rungs of society, and that there would follow a set of disincentives and disadvantages.

My problem is not with the vehement denials or the persons who make these denials, but about how society has made queer-ness an undesirable identity trait.

It is almost as if, given how we are socialised and how we will socialise, being queer makes people take you less seriously as a person, and subjects you to a truckload of misinformation.

This is the proof that queer is being discriminated against. We obsess ourselves with misrepresentations and degrading portrayals of queer people, just to make our (hetero)sexuality an exclusive privilege.

It does not help that there are a sizable number of people, especially the intelligent and educated, who believe that gay-ness can be transmitted and people will be converted to gay-ism. Based on this falsity of a myth, you will stand to lose support from friends and people will stay away from you just because there is the suggestion you are gay. Therefore, you are compelled to declare you are heterosexual. If not, you will probably not 'score' with the opposite sex.

In the domain of celebrity gossip, we get stuff like "he/she's gay, you know?" as if such news would be grounds for a scandal. Here, gay-ness is scandalous. Why? Because society has made it negative and difficult to accept.

Celebrities and other folks will also take issue with the gay suggestion, and see this as a threat to their reputation. Such a reaction/thinking shows that society does not generally accept queer folks.

Why is the "gay" suggestion still so potentially damaging? Why do people care so much about making and receiving these rumours/suggestions?

Even I get a bit angry at people who make the suggestion that I am gay or bisexual. And speaking from experience, my mind goes all over the place and I fear the repercussions should I not respond and declare that I am straight.

The gay suspicion is a tool for demonising, because society has long portrayed and remember queer-ness as wrong.

If all of us are open and accepting of people who identify as queer, the gay suspicion will cease to be offensive, demeaning or damaging.

Like "bitch", "asshole" and other offensive words, the gay suspicion is just made dangerous by society. If we were not socialised into thinking that "bitch" is a negative profane word, people will not grow to be (hyper)sensitive and take the label as an offensive word.

Somehow, I believe that the gay suspicion is integral to the formation of the heterosexual male identity. At least he has something to parade and defend. People will not normally emphasize their heterosexuality although some would enjoy representing themselves as hypermasuline. You need a little gay suspicion to put keep their heterosexual masculine machinery going.

Nobody likes to be (negatively) discriminated against. And for those who receive lesser doses of discrimination, they should do their part to right some wrong and unjust thoughts and attitudes.


Mousuke said...

I suspect that guys have a more innate fear of being targetted by gays after application of the label, rather than it being a socially damaging label..

the little eastern heretic said...

i think straight guys fear both, being called gay and being hit on by gays. i think because being gay is often associated with effeminate-ness (effeminacy?) and that would probably call their masculinity into question.

i don't think straight girls have the same problem. call me lesbian? who cares!

Damien said...

after living in Bangkok for a while, i love the people being so open minded. it is very common thing to see gays, lesbians, ladyboys everywhere anytime, they are treated just as normal people. People are open and accept who they are. I admit they look different and in fact interesting, i have to remind myself not to keep looking at them on a train.

Sam Ho said...

as with "there's nothing wrong with being gay", we should also appreciate that there's nothing wrong with being suspected as gay.

it's just misinformed and close-minded people who make something a stigma.

KT said...

i think it's the ego.

straight men have the innate tendency to uphold some form of pride and dignity in their masculinity, and they tend to hold on to masculinity as a virtue. society has conditioned us into thinking that it is acceptable for men to objectify women and for women to accept and take pleasure in the objectification. a man's masculinity is somewhat like his passport to enjoy this privilege of objectifying women and be recognised as women's admirer/desirer.

being labelled as "gay" destroys such an image, destabilises the male ego and causes an inward fear and panic that he may easily lose the passport and "status" between the two sexes. it also possibly opens a gateway for the man to be objectified by other men, threatening his sense of ownership and leadership in sexual dominion.

Jovi said...

"It is almost as if, given how we are socialised and how we will socialise, being queer makes people take you less seriously as a person, and subjects you to a truckload of misinformation."

I seriously agreed to this. I work in a workplace where 90% of the employees are gay. In the beginning I think it's okay to be mistaken for a gay guy as I thought it do no harm and also makes me integrate more quickly but it causes complications when we are always not on the same page when discussing about work issues and even current affairs. After 3 years of working here I realized that gay people have their own unique "culture" and "religion". They have certain rules that they follow and they have a certain warp perception of reality. This only becomes clear when these matters crosses me and they impose their own dogma onto me. I have gay friends and colleagues but I think it's best to keep the record straight to avoid grave misunderstandings in the long run. I also think it is because after of such incidents and matters than I understands why gay people are not taken seriously. On top of this I have to say that am generalizing things, there are of cause a few respectable of them are not like what I've mentioned.