Monday, 1 October 2012

JOHNNY IS A MARICÓN

His name wasn't Johnny, actually. Nor do I condone the use of the word "maricón", except in this case, where it makes the title of the blog sound like lyrics to a David Bowie song. No, not "Fame".

Anyway, his name wasn't Johnny. To be honest, I can't remember his name, so I'll refer to him as "Glen".

I remember most of the other details pertinent to this story, such as when and where I first met him: Christmas, 1995 or thereabouts, at my girlfriend's parents' house. Glen was one of their oldest and dearest friends, come to share an innocent evening of festive joy. I'd heard my girlfriend talk about him on a few occasions, and I had to agree with her assessment: he was kind, mild-mannered, humourous. I knew he was divorced, had kids in their twenties. Average height, average weight. Modest spectacles. Conventional clothes. He was completely unremarkable in his personality and appearance. I was somewhat surprised. "How can this be?" I thought. "Shouldn't he be...I don't know...different?"

Most surprisingly of all, though, was that he didn't come onto me; he didn't try to seduce or recruit me; and he sure as hell didn't put any of his bits into any of my openings.

Glen was the first openly gay person I had ever met.

And if your name is Glen, and you're upset that I used your name in this case, then I'm sorry, but stop being lame. And if you're lame, then I'm sorry that I used that word.

Can we get on with it?

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Junior high was when I really started to hear some great insults, although I only had a rudimentary understanding of some of the words' meanings, and an even less refined understanding of their connotations. If I called you a "fag", it meant you were...uh...a fag. A fag is a fag is a fag! Sheesh. Don't be gay, you gaylord.

My parents told me once or twice to stop using such words. I thought they were being retarded...I mean...overly intrusive, but I tried to be more mindful.

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Over the years, I've met more gay men and women, and I've mostly stopped using objectionable language. Within earshot of anyone who might be offended, anyway. Like I say, though: I've met more gay men and women. I've danced with them, broken bread with them, bantered with them. I've been in hot tubs and back seats of cars with them. I've been consoled and betrayed by them, encouraged and maligned.

In all my experience with gay people, the only replicable difference between them and their heterosexual counterparts that I've been able to discern after all this time is that--get this--gay people like to sleep with people of the same gender, whereas straight people like to sleep with people of the opposite gender. Pretty earth-shattering, I know.

See, the gay people I've met aren't any more histrionic, flamboyant, perverse, or degenerate than the vast majority of the straight people I've met...or maybe I'm just not meeting the right ones.

The stereotype of an effeminate queen does not reflect my experience with gay men. There's even been some suggestion in scientific literature that gay men are actually hyper-androgenized, or hyper-male.

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The ratio of length of the second (2D) to fourth digit (4D) is correlated with intrauterine androgen exposure,
that is, how much male hormone a person was "subjected" to in the womb.
One's second digit is usually shorter than one's fourth digit.
The degree to which one's 2D is shorter than one's 4D is related to how much male hormone a person grew up with.
A person with a smaller 2D:4D likely had greater intrauterine testosterone exposure than a person with a larger 2D:4D.
Some studies indicate a lower 2D:4D in homosexual women compared to heterosexual women.
The results are not as "straight"forward (yerk yerk) with homosexual versus heterosexual men.
If you don't have a 2D or 4D, I'm sorry that I used this example.

Williams TJ, Pepitone ME, Christensen SE, Cooke, Bradley M., Huberman, Andrew D., Breedlove, Nicholas J., Breedlove, Tessa J., Jordan, Cynthia L. et al. (March 2000).
"Finger-length ratios and sexual orientation". Nature 404 (6777): 455–6.

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I also offer incontrovertible proof, in the form of completely unreliable and anecdotal evidence--specifically, my own--that overt displays of "femininity" (or, at least, an absence of clichéd male behaviours) DO NOT equate to underlying homosexuality.

Now I won't go so far as to deny that I've never wondered about my sexuality, but I can unequivocally state that I am not attracted to any men whatsoever. It doesn't matter how powerful their rippling, glistening, sinewy bodies are; how welcoming and intense their chocolatey brown eyes are; how much they lavish me with considerate and erotic gifts; or how skilled they are in lovemaking or feats of strength and endurance...mmmmm...

Sorry, I lost my place. Anyway, I'm not gay. But I've been mistaken for gay several times, apparently because I don't exude some kind of stereotypical machismo. A friend of mine once told me, "So-and-so asked me if you were gay. I told them no, that you're just friendly." Since when are good manners and a sunny disposition a corollary of homosexuality? Do I have to act like an asshole so as to disabuse potential suitors of their misconceptions? "Sorry, Joe. I obviously gave you the wrong idea. From now on, I'll stop asking how your weekend went and simply ignore you or give you withering looks."

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Shortly after moving to Edmonton almost 10 years ago, I was working on a medical unit in an inner-city hospital. I gave the time of day to a nursing student, who told me he was an actor and had worked with Jane Seymour and Sean Connery. After a few minutes of doing my best imitation of someone who believed him and was impressed, the student gathered his items and prepared to leave. He nervously and earnestly asked me, "So...how will I find you again?"

One night a few weeks later, I had completed an evening shift at another hospital and was eating in my car outside my apartment. A small group of nighttime revellers were on their way into my building, and they asked me to join them. A couple of hours later, I was alone in the hostess' living room having my feet fondled by a large, giggling, Aboriginal male.

A year or two passed, and I found myself in another awkward situation. I was drunk at a friend's house, and he and I were going to watch "Bride of Chucky". In his bedroom. On his bed. Okay...in his bed. With his brother sitting in a chair two feet away.

I still ask myself: what vibes did I give off? What did I say or do to make these guys think I was remotely interested in them? And what do I do to change that?

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Then there are some people who don't discriminate, like my friend Mac. I knew he had at least borderline satyriasis, but I thought it was limited to females. I found out that I was mistaken when I broke up with another girlfriend in 2002. I was pretty bummed out about it, and one night, he was trying to cheer me up. He put a "reassuring" hand on my leg, which I took at face value until he said something about me being so cute when I was vulnerable. I brushed it off (his hand and the situation), but when I asked him later if he'd been coming onto me, he didn't deny it.

So even a good friend of mine, who would have known my sexual preferences, seemed to think I'd be okay with an all-male dalliance.

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I suppose that much confusion could have been avoided if I had a functional "gay-dar". But I don't...and I'm glad. I don't jump to any conclusions, I don't judge, and I don't change how I act just because of how those actions may be misinterpreted. If people get the wrong idea, that's up to them to sort out.

I'm not going to:

wear Affliction t-shirts;
stop watching Disney movies;
deny my fears and insecurities;
pump iron;
exude a specious confidence;
talk out of my ass;
steam roll over those who disagree with me;
castigate or control those who I erroneously perceive to be weaker than me;
emasculate my ostensible competition;
screw or screw over every woman I meet;
or generally be a selfish, insecure, chauvinistic jackass;

just to make it clear to everyone that I don't sleep with men.

And if you do any of those things for that reason, then I'm sorry, but that's sad. And if you're sad, then I'm sorry.
 
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Now, if you'll excuse me, this gay icon has to phone his mother, drink some tea, and dance to some Lady Gaga.

Glen, if you're out there: thanks for being so goddamned normal.

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