Thursday, August 27, 2009

The “Not Gay” Man

"There are three types of men in Utah: the gays, the straights, and the 'not gays.' "—my best friend, Cole.

In LDS culture, many GMBs go through life being defended. When these boys are teased, their friends and family often come to their aid and say, "He's not gay."

That said, in 90% of cases, though, the "not gay" boy turns out to be gay (not an actual statistic to clarify). There may be something to the perception that young people have, or the tendency that we have as human beings to point out each others' "weaknesses." Whatever the case, family, friends, and the boys themselves feel the necessity to defend themselves against such accusations.

One example is my best friend Cole. Throughout high school, bullies targeted him for his artistic abilities and his mannerisms. All of his friends, myself included, made an effort to support him by telling his tormentors and witnesses that he was "not gay." I, myself, received similar (perhaps more tactful) accusations on my mission based upon the way I crossed my legs from dear friends.

Roughly one month after I came out to Cole, he confirmed the suspicions of not only those bullies (a number of whom came out themselves) but also many of the friends who defended him. Reactions, as in any case, were mixed. He felt a slight sense of resentment from a few of his friends, but most were happy with his announcement.

The major lesson to be learned is that although we truly never know the complete story of anyone's life, people's perceptions that counter the person's self-perception can never be completely discounted. In other words, we must be sensitive not only to the ways that a person perceives him/herself, but also to the way he/she does not (or perhaps does not yet) him/herself.


El Genio said...

This is a great point, I had never considered it before.

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