My roommate has a nasty habit of “woofing” at hot guys he sees on campus. He has difficulty containing himself when it comes to hot straight guys, much like how thirteen year old boys have difficulty not getting boners at the sight of anything slightly resembling a boob. I’ve always held a double standard when it comes to this behavior. I criticize my roommate tremendously for preying upon straight men or hitting on them in social situations but see nothing wrong when I giggle at straight guys or ogle of the beautiful guys in one of my class. And I’ve come to realize that this double standard stems from an issue of power. I don’t see my behavior as inappropriate because I’m the submissive type whereas my roommate is the aggressive one. If my roommate were to sleep with a straight guy, he’d most likely top them, which a straight man may view as the ultimate form of emasculation. If I were to sleep with a straight guy or approach one for sex, it’d be the opposite. He could have sex with me without it being as damaging to his masculinity. As some closeted southerners say, “It’s only gay if you bottom.”
I think a lot of the tension that arises between gay men and straight men is this notion of masculinity. Straight men may feel that if a gay guy gives them a compliment that it’s an attack or an invasion. They think that all gay men want to have sex with them and become uncomfortable in places like locker rooms. Its as if they fear that gays will suck the masculinity out of them. And before I go any further, I want to say that this is not true of every straight guy. Many straight guys are confident in their sexuality, have gay friends, and are secure in their masculinity. But unfortunately there are straight men who use “fag” as a derogatory way of saying someone is less of a man because of the way they act or who they find attractive.
My relationship with straight guys is a lot like the relationship between a dog and its owner who occasionally beats it. I’m extremely skittish when it comes to interaction and I try to act more masculine in their presence because I don’t want to be mocked or judged. For the most part, however, I encircle myself with girls who provide a safe barrier between me and the men. I’ve found that straight guys are nicer to me when I’m friends with the girls they want to bone or already bone. And I’ve used this to my advantage. But I still have the fear that if the girls are removed from the equation that I’ll still be the object of mockery or cruelty.
I’ve found that tension also arises from the issue of gender representation. It seems to me that straight men do not experiment with gender roles as much as gay men do. Gay men can mix and match male and female clothes, wear makeup or act in a feminine manner but straight men don’t feel as though they can. I can dress up like a woman for a drag show and enjoy it for reasons other than mockery of women. I enjoy the feeling of a wig on my head and how liberating shaved arm pits can be. And for some reason straight men often can’t and perhaps they sometimes become frustrated at how easy it is for us to play with the gender spectrum.
So instead of joining us, they condemn us for choosing to act more like women than men. Homophobic bigots say we’re faggots because we enjoy bottoming or because we watch RuPaul’s Drag and say “YAAAAAAS”. But if I’ve learned anything about gender, its that you get to determine what your behavior is. I can dress like a woman (occasionally) and still be a man because #socialconstructs. Women can play sports and still be feminine or be masculine if they choose to be. We can all be whatever the fuck we want, and fuck whoever we want and it really doesn’t matter! Straight men should realize that how gay men act is not an attack on the way they act, nor is it commentary. Straight guys should act however they want as long as its how they want to act. Little boys should be able to play with barbies and little girls should be able to play Grand Theft Auto so that they too can know the joy of running over innocent civilians. Because at the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of hairless apes floating on a rock in space, trying to navigate having more than 5 people on one Netflix account.