I liked you better when you were gay
I recently found out that an acquaintance of mine in the LIS program is straight. I’ve known him since last semester, and from the first time I met him I assumed he was gay. I’ll spare you the details, mostly because I’m not quite sure that I can articulate why I made the assumption. Perhaps the best I can do is that he reminded me, in some fundamental way, of other gay guys I’ve known. Only now, it appears that he has a girlfriend. (Given the liberal bent of this community, I’m going to take that as a sign that he’s straight, not just closeting.) Disturbingly, I now find him really annoying, which wasn’t the case when I thought he was gay.
There are several possible explanations for this:
1. In a streak of reverse discrimination, I automatically like guys who are gay. Disturbing because it implies a blanket judgment based on sexual orientation, not on personality and character. Even if this judgment is in favor of the traditionally oppressed, this still speaks to a shallow approach to life.
Happily, this is easily discounted by providing a counterexample. If I can think of a gay guy that I don’t like, this theory is bunk. And I can. (Whew.)
2. Whatever it is that makes me think a guy is gay is something that I see as a defect in straight guys. Disturbing because it implies a double standard, or that I see the stereotypical manifestations of male homosexuality as some sort of “disease” that gay men can’t help having, but that ought to be avoided in straight men.
This is the one that’s been bothering me. The one that’s been making me think: “So, it’s OK to be a little – what, exactly? prissy? – if you’re gay, but not if you’re straight? What the hell kind of attitude is that? Am I really automatically associating negative qualities with gay men, then magnanimously forgiving them those qualities because I assume they can’t help it?” A very troubling discovery indeed. But then I thought of a third explanation.
3. There are certain things that automatically give you points, in my book. Being a Mormon convert. Learning Chinese. And being gay.
None of these assigns a huge amount of points, nothing more than a nudge, really, but if my opinion of someone were on the borderline of neutrality, being gay might be enough to nudge him up to the positive side.
And, looking back on it, the things that are bothering me about him have always bothered me about him; he’s been creeping up on “annoying” status for months now. Suddenly becoming straight just sent him over the edge. I feel better for deciding I’m not as irrational as I feared.
(In a very, very odd twist of fate, I should point out that he might actually not be straight after all. When our classmate referred to his girlfriend, he got a weird look on his face, and didn’t say anything to confirm or acknowledge her existence. Which wouldn’t be conclusive, except that the “girl”friend has an androgynous name, and could therefore be a boyfriend, as well. Is it possible that our classmate misapplied a gender when someone made reference to a “partner” or “significant other”? It’s a rather far-fetched scenario, and I find that I don’t really care either way, except that it would be funny if I thought he was gay (again) and liked him again. But I think that I would still find him annoying, at this point.)