One of our G readers can relate:
I loved the email from your transgender reader, recounting the normalcy of her MTF life. I admire how she successfully navigates in her complicated hi-tech office world and rejects transgender movement cant. There were no weepy complaints about anti-trans “hate” – which exists, to be sure, but is often overblown. She’s essentially my trans-analog. As a gay man I experienced in the gay world what she’s experiencing as a trans person. I always wondered if there were people like her out there – so glad to hear there are.
When I came out 25 years ago, I thought I’d be meeting guys who were basically like my straight buddies, except for sexuality. I’d read Andrew Tobias’ book – I thought I knew how this coming out thing worked: lots of “regular guy” types, doing regular guy stuff, comfortable in their own skin with no interest in waging gender revolution.
Oh how wrong I was.
What I found was a community where most of the leaders, spokespeople, organizations, and figureheads were in full-scale retreat from gender, didn’t believe gender roles are biologically hard wired, and disliked even the slightest vestige of traditional masculinity. It took me a long time to adjust. I’d come out to a community that doesn’t really know what to make of people like me.
I sympathize with the DL gay athletes and celebs we read so much about. They are inevitably portrayed in the gay media as closet cases, cowering in fear, afraid to be true to themselves. It never occurs to the gay establishment that perhaps these guys are being true to themselves. Perhaps they don’t “come out” because they haven’t been offered anything worth coming out to. They see the gay community in 21st century America as a tedious bore, and at times a bit of a freak show.
Like your writer, I no longer truck with gay officialdom (I was an early member of my college gay rights group back in the day, and an original “ACTUP-er”). I have nothing to say to those folks that they are even remotely interested in hearing. I no longer describe myself, or even think of myself, as “gay”. The term is now about gender, not sexuality.
For men like me (not only comfortable, but raucously enthusiastic, about trad gender), it’s best to avoid Gayworld altogether. Like an agnostic in church, sooner or later it dawns on you to move along and find new friends. Let one of the true believers have the pew space.
I like the term “MSM” [Men who have Sex with Men], popular with DL African-American guys for years (although I realize black MSMs often have a touch of denial about sexual orientation, which seems to lead unsafe sex – not good). For “MSMs” like me, the Internet is perfect for finding like minded guys, and weeding out the rainbow-flaggers. I also believe the strictly apolitical bears represent a quiet rebuke to the gay left establishment. So I hang out with the bears whenever possible.
Gay groups that skew towards conservative interests are great places to meet normal gay guys. I go to Log Cabin meetings, even though I’m a moderate Democrat. I go to Dignity services, although I’m not a super devout Catholic. I hang out at gay country western bars, even though I don’t like country music. I’m not a great ballplayer, but I join the gay softball leagues. As a lawyer, I’ve found gay bar associations are a great place to socialize with like-minded guys, as long as the politicos aren’t in charge. I’m even trying to break into a cop/firefighter/military gay group, even though I’ve never been any of those things. Strange yes, but extreme measures are called for once you’ve lost interest in rainbow flag world.
Of course, I have huge sympathy for my reader. I’ve long had issues with a super-gay world as portrayed by the pomo-left tendency. And I think many in the gay community don’t fully understand how their hostility to old-fashioned comfort in one’s own gender marginalizes many who deserve no such thing. As more gay men come out, this has changed somewhat. There are now far more places for men who have no gender issues and who enjoy more traditionally masculine pastimes to meet and congregate and socialize and find husbands and boyfriends and flings. From a plethora of sports bars to sports teams to online hookups, “non-scene” gays now have a foothold. But it’s a precarious one, and often subject to a certain amount of shunning or even ridicule.
In some ways, the emphasis on military service and marriage equality was designed to create an atmosphere in which more gender-conforming gay men could feel welcome, enfranchised, and equal in both the gay and straight worlds, and, of course, to reach a place where that division is not so clear-cut. But it can also mean a drifting away from the gay “community” in favor of a simpler and less defined way of life as a man who can fall in love with another man, or just fuck one. That’s in part what I mean by the end of gay culture. It may also be a birth of a new, and more inclusive, one.