Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some homosexuals don't like other homosexuals..

I've read the phrase "internalized homophobia" several times over the years, and the best analogy for this phenomenon is that as gay men and women we often react strongly when we see other gay people mirroring back to us the things we like least about ourselves. 

Have you ever been with a friend or family member when they make a comment about how much they dislike sloppy eaters as they chomp and slurp like a famished raccoon?  Pointing out in others the things we can't deal with in ourselves is a defense mechanism that somehow allows us to justify our behaviors by saying to ourselves "Well, at least I'm not that bad."  Among the many gay men I've known over the years this action is much more biting, catty and ultimately destructive.

I'm guilty of seeing my reflection in other men and disliking what I see, or feeling unable to accept gay men as they are.  This happens most when I am around guys that are flamboyant.  Perhaps I'm bothered that they are freely effeminate, and it reminds me of how much I have restricted my own self-expression.  Perhaps I find him perfectly delightful, but refrain from embracing him or expressing my attraction to him because he is SO obviously gay.   Regardless of his characteristics, through some honest self reflection I'm able to see what's going on inside of me to garner such a strong reaction.  But, the buck doesn't stop here.  I have to forge through and embrace my mirror image so that I can embrace my brother for who he is and affirm him.

For those who don't know what catty means, Webster's defines it as having or showing a desire to cause someone pain or suffering for the sheer enjoyment of it <a catty remark that served its only purpose: to make someone cry>

One of the best examples of this meanness came one winter when I had been out shopping for ornaments.  I ran into a rather handsome fella who looked overwhelmed by the giant isles of glittered glory.  I was totally in my element, and my confidence was high so I commented to him that he had an attractive assortment of ornaments and that I just saw the perfect ribbon for his tree.  Our conversation stuck primarily to Christmas trees, lights and decor for the next hour, but when I went in to seal the deal and asked for a drink date he was instantly aloof. 
I recounted this tale for some gay friends just later that week.  Instantly they knew who I was talking about, and commented that my new crush was actually a neighbor that lived with a long term partner.  Of course I dramatically lamented "What's wrong with guys?"  I talked to this guy for more than an hour about the holidays, trees and lighting.  He consistently used "I", "Mine", and "Me."  He never so much as indicated that he had a partner!!  UGH!  This still ANNOYS me.  But, that is for a different day... sigh.
The point is that I was disappointed that someone I was obviously flirting with and asked to see again wouldn't tell me he was unavailable!  One of the men standing in the kitchen listening to my lament commented "Oh you mean "John Doe"? I never thought he was cute. He's kind of elfish with his pointed ears."
Stunned silent.

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