It seems almost daily we are surrounded by some form of prejudice, from almost every direction. As a gay man, I have pretty much come to expect that heterosexual culture will have some issue with LGBTQ people. The government shows it daily and we see the general public thinking it’s okay to be more boisterous about their hatred because the government isn’t in check. What always seems to hurt me to the core is when I see this same hatred coming from our own communities. By that I mean singling out those that appear to be effeminate or overly masculine. As they are lashing out, they are accusing the person they are targeting as being stereotypical and the very reasons heterosexual culture dislikes us. You can see that isn’t the case, even those that appear ”normal” in the media, with their married lifestyles, children in town, in nice houses inside nice neighborhoods, and acting like their neighbors, they are still a target for the vitriol that is spewed from those who think being LGBTQ is an abomination.
Our community is as diverse as the heterosexual community. They are those that are hyper masculine, effeminate, love to watch football, love to go to plays, have the want for finer things, and some that are purely happy with the basics of living. The only stereotype is that which was created by heterosexual people about what they perceived LGBTQ people as and it’s not the first time it has happened. If you look back to the movies of the 50s and 60s, Asian characters were over emphasized has have a pronounced overbite, always wearing a version of a Kung Fu outfit, speaking very broken English, or even martial artists. The very means of which their characters were cartoonish is appalling, by today’s standards. Sadly, television programming and people’s perceptions of the LGBTQ stereotypes haven’t evolved very much. You will still see the gay man that is OVERLY effeminate, listening to show tunes, carrying some small animal in a handbag, wearing moderate amounts of makeup, and speaking with a lisp that could put Sylvester the cat to shame. We see it so much that it becomes part of how we view the world.
It’s not just media that forces us to take a particularly harsh view of those that seem to fit a stereotype, sometimes it is purely because of the bullying we have had to endure at some part of our lives or being judged because we may have appear “too gay” to someone. This shouldn’t come as a shock, after all openly gay men have been passed over for promotions and jobs because they appear “too gay.” Or we may have witnessed someone being targeted in a similar fashion. So, we look at it and realize that if we act this way, we too can be targeted and called out for who we are. It is human nature to want to be accepted by our peers, so many times we “act straight” so that we can “pass” ourselves off as not being like them. Many people stand and practice their mannerisms, speech patterns, word choices, body language, and clothing styles so they can make others see that there are “normal” gay people out there. This type of posturing or acting only adds to the divide that is already there. This very battle can lead to depression and anxiety. It becomes very tiring to stop and think about every individual piece of how we act to appear to others as we think they want us to appear.
I truly feel that most of this internalized hatred comes from self-loathing and the need to appear “normal.” When that word is used in that context, it refers to a heterosexual idealized version of a person and some version of sexual roles. As LGBTQ people, we have already shirked those gender roles. Being gay allowed us to be the person we truly were on the inside; not what others think we should be. If this is the case, why would you want to pigeonhole someone back into a dynamic that doesn’t define them?
As members of the LGBTQ community, we should accept each and every one of us, regardless of their mannerisms. You don’t have to agree with them, but acceptance of them as their own individual is important. I am not a fan of tofu, but I do not exclude someone from my life because they do. It really is that simple. You don’t have to like they act a certain way, but you cannot deny them their rights to do so, or support that they deserve the same rights as you. They are no less deserving of being able to live a life where they do not lose their job for who they are. We become no better than the individuals who kidnap us from a bar, beat us to within an inch of our lives, tie up to a fence post mostly naked, and leave us to die. You say that is extreme, but is it really? If you perpetuate the hatred and segregation of people based on personalities and actions, you, in essence, justify why someone else may do something more extreme in their hatred of the group of people.
It is time for us to hold ALL individuals who spout any anti LGBTQ rhetoric accountable for their words. You don’t get a pass because you are LGBTQ, that does not make your hatred okay. You are perfectly entitled to not agree with someone actions, but you do not have the right to say they do not deserve to be their true authentic self. You do not have the right to deny them the same liberties you want. Just remember, the next time you are judging someone based on their actions, there are people judging you for being who you are, as well.