Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spark of Wisdom: I am who I am - I don't need instructions on how to be a gay man

image This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will  feature a post from Sparky.

This is probably going to be less reasoned than my average post. Largely because it comes from a whole lot of anger that has roiled in me.

I am so very tired of being told how to be me. I am tired of being told how to be a man. I am tired of being told how to be gay. I am tired of being afraid of "doing it wrong" and I deeply regret the foolish things I've done in the past in an attempt to "conform" to some standard.

I am a man. All I need is what is in my head that tells me I am male. I am not any less of a man because I am gay. Yes I'm short and yes I'm slight. I'm not going to bulk up in the gym because it would look awful on me. My slight stature makes me less manly. I'm not going to cut my long hair to fit some narrow definition of what a man is supposed to be, because men don't have long hair.

I like to look good, though I eschew fashion labels, I'm not going to wear stained rags because it's somehow more "manly" to look like a tramp. I'm not going to pretend interest in sport (well, any sport that doesn't involve speedos anyway) because that's what "real men" do. I'm not going to be fascinated by DIY or sports cars or power tools and I still think BBQs are a damned inefficient way of cooking. I will not feign interest in "manly" things to conform to how a man "should" be.

I look back and regret the times I avoided cooking - because a man didn't cook and if I cooked it would be proof of how gay men weren't real men. I regret the tedious hours I spent trying to garner the slightest interest in sports - because I feared failing as a man. I remember the endless doubt and shame about my clothes, about my appearance about my hobbies. I wouldn't discuss my taste in music, even with close friends, for fear that my taste would reveal me to be less than a true man, that it would show that I was the homo, the poof, the queer, the fag.

I reject a ridiculously narrow standard of what it means to be a man. I reject that a man must meet these foolish, harmful standards. And when I don't meet that standard, it's not because I'm gay. It's not because a gay man is less of a man. My "effeminate" or "less manly" behaviour or tastes most certainly does not somehow prove some trait about gay men everywhere. I am my own person and it is an absurdity to infer anything about other gay men by my actions.

I am a gay man. The fact I am a man solely attracted to other men, and that I identify as gay is enough to make me a gay man.  I am not any less gay because I am not flamboyant enough. I am not closeting myself because I don't wear glitter or rainbows or pink (pink? I look AWFUL in pink). I am not refusing to embrace my gayness by not wanting to wear drag. My monogamous life and preference for monogamy is not some kind of betrayal of what it means to be GBLT. It doesn't make me a wanna-be heterosexual. My domestic partnership (gah I hate that ridiculous term - my MARRIAGE as it should be) doesn't make me somehow not truly gay.

I am gay by all pertinent definition. Trying to force us into a horrendously narrow box of a series of connected stereotypes is damaging and insulting to all of us. We are more than this, we are greater than this - we run the full range of all things human. You can't squeeze us into a tiny box - we don't fit and you'll hide so much of us - that which you don't cut away to force us in.

I am a gay man. By definition I am doing it right - both being gay and being male. Because that is WHO I am. You can't tell me someone else does it better, knows it better or that I am somehow doing it wrong. I can't get being me wrong.

I don't need instructions for being me.

And all being me tells you about... is me. No-one else. Just me.