Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spark Of Wisdom: I Am Not Your Gay Toy


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 be featuring a post from Sparky. 

Do you know what? There are some things that are repeatedly said to me, that really set my teeth on edge. They really really annoy me, to a point where one day I am sure my head will explode out of sheer irritation. It will be messy. I must remember to bring plastic sheeting.

They annoy me beyond reason. I mean, even more than Beloved seasoning food after I've cooked it?

Even more than him putting things away while I'm still using them.

Even more than door-to-door annoyers knocking on my door at 9:00am on a Sunday morning.
 
EVEN more than the damn 10 feet of snow (possible exaggeration) that has kept me housebound and made me miss a holiday (and, to make matters worse, certain Canadians aren't snowed in despite my frequent comments about polar bears, igloos and wintry wastelands). 
 
The following is a list (that will be so non-inclusive, because I'm remembering more, as I write this), of some of the things that people not only say around me - but say around me so often, that I may carry little cards around with answers pre-written. Or maybe engraved onto the head of an axe. Yes, I think I'll go with axe.

"You're so cute together!"

Kids playing dress up are cute.

Small, fluffy animals are cute.

Maybe your children going on their first date are cute.

Couples that have lived together for the best part of a decade? "Cute" (or "sweet") isn't the adjective. It's demeaning. It's diminishing. It's reminiscent of patting a kid on the head who has learned a new trick.

"You're just like a married couple!"

You're just like a clueless person! And that's because you are one! Just as we're just like a married coupled because we ARE a married couple! Shocking isn't it?

Saying we "look like" what we are tells me you think we're imitating, faking. It irritates me, it does.
 
"Married? What.. oh you mean civil partnered!"

Damn, you're right! Y'know, I totally forget all the time that real marriage isn't for the likes of me, thank you for reminding me.

I know that 'legally' we're not married, ok. But I really do appreciate not having that rubbed in my face (which, btw, as an acquaintance reminded me the other day - your Hen Night in a gay bar does strike me as rather tasteless. You're merrily celebrating something that most of society deems the inhabitants of that bar are unfit for. Maybe it's because you have a lot of gay friends, then cool - but if you're coming to ogle the gay guys? Um... yeah)

If I've said "married" then I've said it for a reason - and that reason isn't because I need someone to teach me.
 
"I bet I could turn you!"

Noooope, pretty certain if a decade or so of familial pressure didn't do it, then your boobies really don't have that kind of power

Look, I know it's meant as a joke, and gods know I'll flirt with anything with a pulse so long as they know that it's a game, I'm incorrigible like that

But, y'know there are a whole lot of forces out there that do try to "turn" me and mine... and it's not a happy fun process. You can't turn me and all you're doing is reminding me of those who have tried - and those who would try.
 
"You're one of the girls"

Well damn, my husband is going to be real disappointed about that and it's really going to ruin our sex life, him being gay and all. Oh wait, nope, I'm still a man. I'm a gay man, not a girl. Don't assume being gay makes me female. Denying that gay men are actually men or that lesbians are actually women is pernicious, annoying and a very narrow definition of both gays/lesbians AND gender.
 
"Oh you're the woman, teehee!"

No, still no. Do I have a sign on my head that says "not a man" or something? Not only am I female here, but I'm "the" woman - is that like the only woman in the world ever or something?

Related to the age old question "which one's the woman?"which is always most annoying (because no relationship can possibly work if it doesn't imitate straightness), this goes a step further and decides outright to put one of us in the box (ok, me. Because it's always me) based on... what? Stereotype? My hair? My height? My build? Messages from beyond, magic 8 ball, what?
 
"You two kissing is so hot"
 
Well... thank you. Because I really needed another reason to be uncomfortable about PDA. Not only do I get to worry about people throwing bottles at my head (advantage of them throwing bottles at the head, though, is out of several dozen, I think only 3 have ever hit) but now I also have to deal with the drool puddles and the vague need to shower afterward.

"Kiss for us"

Gods no. Go rent some porn if you want to get off. I'm not your performing porn monkey - and I don't care if it's a gay bar (in fact, I take issue with this crap happening in what is supposed to be our safe space) or pride and I'm perfectly safe (ha! For a given amount of safe). I know when I'm safe thank you, and even if a legion of gay commandos were stood ready to protect, I still prefer to kiss Beloved only when I want to, not on command for an audience. 

Now were are my gay commandos, I like a guy in uniform I do.

"Can I get a picture?"
 
What is this, the zoo? Come see your Greater Spotted Gay? Go photo the bonobos if you want to get a pic of exotic primates. No, I do not want an entry in your scrap book. And, again, doing this in safe spaces is more offensive not less so - apart from anything else, do you not realise how rude it is to take random photos in a gay bar? Not everyone here is out, not everyone here can afford to be identified as being here.

"Can I get a picture of you kissing?"

Yeaaah, do I even have to say how wrong this is? As an added bonus, this is not just from a complete stranger, but from several complete strangers! I'd say it's worse coming from a stranger than a friend, but only because my friends have a clue. And even use it on occasion :P

I will never understand how people cannot see that finding gay people hot and sexy - and expecting a performance - is a positive thing - let alone how they can present it as being pro-gay. Being a fetish is better than being a victim, but being a person is much better than both. 

"Let me tell you lots of details about personal problems I expect you to give advice on!"

Dear Jane, I'm a gay man and for some reason people I barely know expect me to give advice on their personal problems despite my not caring even slightly. How does one inform people that gay =/= agony aunt? Does it involve axes? Tell me it involves axes.

See, I love feeling I can help my genuine friends (and even family on occasion). I love talking through their problems with them and either helping or at least being a friendly ear/shoulder and sympathising and working through the rant with them. And I'll be first in line when it's "we're going to eat a full cake/tub of ice cream and rip into someone" time. I've even made the cake. And it was good cake.

But having a whole lot of TMI dumped on me by someone I barely know the name of bemuses me in the extreme. (I'm especially amused by straight guys asking me advice about their wives/girlfriends. Why they expect me to have more experience of intimate relationships with women than them bemuses me in the extreme. But then... buying her a washing machine for Christmas? Really, man? Really?). I don't know where this stereotype came from, but between my job and my sexuality I could start my own advice column. 

"This is Sparky, my gay friend."

Has Ms. Manners introduced a new etiquette convention? Does one normally introduce someone by their sexuality? Is this to prevent stealth gayness? Or is it a form of bling, now? Here's my prada handbag, my gucci shoes and lo, my gay friend?

Well at least you establish to people I'm a token from the very first introduction, saves them having to work it out. They might actually start talking to me as if I were a real person!

"What do you think of my shoes?"

 
I don't. They're shoes. Does anyone actually think about shoes? Actually in this weather I think you're going to slip and fall and break your neck or your toes will get frostbite and then you'll get gangrene. They are death shoes. They are trying to kill you. Put them down and we will destroy them in a controlled explosion before they murder you.

This concludes my full knowledge and interest in fashion - especially shoes. If it's fashionable, it's trying to kill you.

"But are they sexy?"

They're SHOES! Except to shoe and/or foot fetishists is it actually possible for a shoe to be sexy? And they cover feet! In my books feet are on par with ears, nostrils and back hair on the body-part-sexy ladder

I am astonished at the number of people who expect me to care about their footwear (and why is it always shoes? Honestly I get asked about shoes more than every other article of clothing put together. Is there a secret shoe code no-one's clued me in on? Is there a manual?)
 
Despite these answers, I still get asked for fashion advice. Even when advocating controlled explosions for footwear. It's almost a compulsion. Even Beloved gets asked for fashion advice - have you seen what he wears?! If he started going out in a hessian sack it'd still be better than half of what's in his wardrobe!

"But you're like SOOOO gay."/"But you're not gay-gay"

No, I am a new category! UBER GAY! Gayer than the gayest thing ever!

See, this one always bugs me, the idea that being gay is somehow an analogue state. You can be sorta gay or very gay or too gay or not gay enough... or... I don't know, I manage to be all of them at the same time. And my gayness levels always seem to be a problem.

Maybe I should install a dial? Hey, straight folks, adjust dial for the correct amount of gayness for the situation. I mean, don't you just hate it when you introduce your GBF and he's just totally not gay enough? There you are, expecting sparkles and rainbows and at least one comment about the bloody shoes and he goes and talks about politics or the stock market or the mating habits of bonobos (curse those dirty dirty bonobos) But then you're walking through a normal bar or down the street or something and he's being such a complete homo and it's embarrassing you could just dial it down again couldn't you?

Maybe we could get a remote control for advanced usage? Fabulous moment needed! Pump up the gay! Oh, no, boss in sight, quick turn it down turn it down! 

Ok this is getting longer than I thought. Wow and there's so many more. I shall have to write them down, I shall.

I'm generally not mortally offended by these (GENERALLY), but I am perpetually irritated. What especially frustrates me is not just how often these are repeated (over and over and over and over again) but by the fact that they've all been said (repeatedly) by people who would vociferously call themselves the proest of pro-gay allies. Heh and maybe it's a huge your mileage may vary issue and others love them massively  (repetition with someone who clearly isn't impressed is, however, still annoying). 

But I want axes. Big ones.