then I might not want to be gay.
As I ease myself back into the gay community, and specifically the gay male community, I'm finding things I don't like, and remembering that I didn't like them before, either.
I recently went to Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. I stood in line for the first of two films I wanted to see, and soon a group of three men got in line behind me. In a mere nanosecond, one of the men immediately began whining, "Oh, this festival has gone to hell since they let the girls take over!"
My immediate thought was, "What blatant sexism!" and then I thought "Well then, bitch, why are you here and how would you make it better?" But, as I am practicing my newest lesson of staying in my moment and in my head, and no one else's, I said nothing. And what would it have proven, anyway? This was my first time at Outfest, so I had nothing to compare it to. And these three were dropping names like ice cream melting on a hot day. So, they'd been here before, and knew some people in positions. Precisely, who they knew and in what positions they knew them is unknown to me.
When I first came out in 1983 I remember meeting many men back then who were my age now, and they were simply bitchy old queens. They couldn't find anything nice to say about anything or anyone. I wonder why? Is it the difficulties we faced growing up that has turned men of my generation sour? No, I've even seen young drag queens "reading" each other, also known as "throwing shade."
- -Girl, those clothes look like a donkey f*cked a piñata and threw up!
I just don't get the negativity. I was brought up that if you couldn't find anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Besides, many of us have had enough bullying in our closeted lives, we shouldn't have to put up with it now that we're out. And, least of all, by people who are supposed to be on our side in the struggle for equality.
If being gay means I have to whine, bitch and throw shade, no, thank you.
I have also been frequenting a little bar in my area. Okay, it's not exactly around the corner, but it's close. Closer than West Hollywood, where the shade can be thrown so fast and thick, you have to watch where you step. I have been chatting with the bartender and found we have a few things in common; like photography. Now, before any of you matchmakers get any ideas, he is younger than my ex, and that makes him AI, (Age Inappropriate), though he is quite GD, (Geographically Desirable) as he lives between my house and the bar; but, closer to my house. He is also Latino, a plus in my book, and about my height, also a plus. And, yes, I would say he's cute. (Many Latino twenty-somethings are.) Definitely a plus. And he's personable, but I suppose that's a requirement for the job. But, there are a couple of other considerations, other than the fact I am not looking for a boyfriend; he has a two year old son with his live-in girlfriend. (Yes, this is a gay bar I am going to, there are several rainbow flags on the roof! And he did refer to her as his girlfriend in a direct conversation with me.)
But, that's all beside the point.
One night I was sitting there playing with him, (We were playing Jenga! Get your minds out of the gutter!) and two old queens were sitting at the other end of the bar. By 'old', I mean my age, and by 'queens', I mean QUEENS. These men were there when I walked in and had already built a nice collection of glasses in front of them. The music was pumped up and they were probably ten feet away from me. They were saying things like, "How many shots will it take to get you to take your shirt off?" or "How many shots till we get you out of your pants?" or "How many shots till I can blow you in the bathroom?" They were obviously pretty loud if I could hear them over the music!!
And while I felt for the bartender, as he seemed uncomfortable with the unwanted attention, I knew it was not my place to act. They weren't directing the comments at me, so it was not my moment. Once, when he came over to me to make his move (in the game!), I told him admired him for having a strong personality to put up with shit like that pointing to the two old queens. He chuckled and said he just laughs it off.
And yet, if it was just between him and those other two, why did it bother me so? I was trying to stay in my moment, not enter his. Though I guess I had when I commented to him about it.
They say you shouldn't go through life narrating every experience for you don't get to enjoy that experience. That's true. But, this became a learning experience for me. Why did the objectification of this young bartender by these two old queens bother me so?
Because it took me back to the days when I was young, cute and objectified; when I was groped and felt up against my will, leaving me feeling cheap and degraded back then. Very few men wanted to take the time to get to know me for who I was, not simply for what I looked like. If I went on a date, and he got what he really wanted, he never called again. If I went on a date, and he didn't get what he really wanted, he never called again. Being young and naive, I took it all personally. Now, I know better, though it still surfaces at times and has become an obstacle for me to overcome now that I am single, again. And the objectification of this nice, intelligent, creative young man, or anyone for that matter, still bothers me, maybe because I didn't know how to deal with it back then so I am sensitive to others being objectified.
So, why do we view people as objects for our sexual gratification? To use them and toss away like dirty old tissues? There could be as many answers as there are people on the planet. Perhaps it's because some people set themselves up to be objectified and then we expect others to as well.
In the few times I've set up an online dating profile, many of the profile pictures other men have posted were of their naked torsos, or they were reclining on a bed or sofa with a carefully placed fold in the sheet, or just in their underwear. They also offered 'private' photos, or sent them to me, unsolicited, in a message. Many of these shots are not showing the guy's face. Perhaps they feel they still need to hide their identity on a gay site, or because it's an online hookup/dating site, or they're trying to hide from someone else. What this also suggests, to me anyway, is that is all they see of themselves. "I have to use my body to get someone's attention. So, let's start with the sex and see what happens as a result."
As for the whining, complaining, and throwing shade, we all do it to some extent; gay, straight, drag queen or not. The objectifying, it happens. It will happen, it will continue to happen. I think it's here to stay, unfortunately. So, I will have to learn to accept a sincere compliment and then let it be. I need to learn how to determine when someone is looking for something he's not going to get or is genuinely interested in what's between my ears and in my heart, not just what's between my legs. I'm not a kiss-on-the-first-date-(and-maybe-not-even-the-second)-date kind of guy. Okay, maybe a kiss, but nothing more than that.
If being gay means I have to objectify men, even if they ask for it, no, thank you.
I guess I'll have to treat the gay male community like one great big Al-Anon meeting;
I'll take what I like and leave the rest.
And take nothing personally.