Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Guy Stuff"

Two posts ago, my San Diego Calvinist Townhall commenter/friend Jerubaal left me this very funny and thought-provoking comment, I suppose as advice on how fix my "problem."

Do guy stuff (like work out), hang out with guys, and think about girls.

Let's get the humor out of the way first: Jerubaal, buddy, working out? That's your best example of non-gay guy stuff? You live in San Diego, for crying out loud. Have you even been to a gym there? ;) Okay, that was just a bad example (that or you were being sarcastic) but the point still stands. A lot of people--perhaps even some within ex-gay ministries (having had relatively little experience with them, I wouldn't know)--hold an opinion that becoming more stereotypically masculine (or feminine) is a step on the way to heterosexuality, or at the very least, a proper life for a male (or female) Christian.

The rest of the post is not a reply to Jerubaal's comment (so you can breathe easy, buddy). The comment, though, did get my mind on gender stereotypes and what role such things have to play when it comes to homosexuality and Christianity. There are two ways I can look at this: personally and critically. Since this is a personal blog I'm tempted to simply relate my own experiences, but I do love critical analysis of any given subject (which is why I love Disputed Mutability's blog so much). So, I think I'll try doing both here.

Personally, I think I'm pretty masculine, or at least I'm as masculine as I think I need to be, and I don't think there is too much of me that I'd consider feminine (although I've been told that my strictly comedic impressions of an angry black woman are too spot-on ;). I mean, yes, some people have said that they weren't surprised when they found out I was gay. A few even admitted to having been suspicious, and apparently one said they had figured me out after a single handshake. :-/ But I've also gotten "I had no idea!" comments and I've been told by several straight guys that my certain brand of gayness is tolerable because I don't "throw it in their faces." Obviously, these guys don't know my entire story (I find it's too complicated to relate to anyone but my closest friends...aaand strangers on the Internet ;) But to put it bluntly, it's not like I walk around with a feather boa and a tiara and say things like "Girlfriend, you are HOT! Let's go to Jamba Juice, mmkay?"

As far as friends go, I would say that, yes, the majority of my best friends are female, but it's not because I dislike or don't get along with guys. In fact, in college, for the first time I'm meeting straight guys that I actually do get along with and enjoy being friends with. It's probably because I'm, well, in college. Being born and raised in small (and I mean small) town NC, most guys I knew were of the more...shall I say redneck type? I'm just not the hunting/fishing/football-playing sort, though I don't mind people who hunt or fish and I absolutely loved going to my high-school football games. What can I say? My parents are more artistic and intellectual than most, and so am I. I like art and books and theatre (and yes, I spell it that way). Not many guys around home did, so while I didn't not get along with them I wasn't exactly buddy-buddy with them either. My only guy friends were my girlfriends' boyfriends. That's changed in college, though. I'm meeting an entire group of guys that I actually enjoy hanging out with. Granted, they aren't your usual frat-party, prankster, macho-macho men, but since I'm not either, it works out.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I have a slight aversion to picking friends just because I think that their friendship is something that would be beneficial for me. If I had to pretend to be into sports--other than hockey, which I am into (Go 'Canes!)--or hunting or whatever qualifies as "guy stuff" I wouldn't be happy and, frankly, I'd look and feel stupid. I pick my friends based on qualities that determine whether or not I get along with them and want to be with them (and, hopefully, they've done the same for me and aren't just putting up with me ;)

Now that I've explained my own personal experiences, let me think critically about this. How do gender/sexuality stereotypes fit into a Christian view of homosexuality? We all know what the stereotypes of gay men are--effeminate, crass, into theatre, fashion, design, and the like. And those stereotypes aren't without merit--I've already admitted to being guilty of some of them, but I don't mind being guilty of them, because I don't think they matter when it comes to my walk of faith and my life as a celibate same-sex attracted person. And of course it should be stated that gays--like any group--are much more diverse than the stereotype would claim. Remember Tom? He's pretty much earned the respect of all the guys in the dorm after completely--forgive me, there's no other word for it--pwning them at HALO. And most of them probably never suspected he was gay in the first place (I sure didn't).

However, I do think that stereotypes would matter if they were not merely aspects of my personality but habits that I had picked up after hanging out in a more predominately gay social circle for a number of years--if such a thing actually happens. To sum it up: if the reason I didn't hang out with guys or do "guy stuff" was because it was guy stuff and I felt uncomfortable about the masculinity of it all, then yes, there would be a problem. Maybe there are some struggling people who have that as a stumbling block and need to get over it, but I don't think I'm one of them. Rather, I consider this more of a matter of likes and dislikes, and since those likes and dislikes aren't inherently sinful, I'm fine with them. Does that make sense to anyone? I'll admit that I'm running on very little sleep and a lot of caffeine right now.

There's more to be said here, and I'll probably knock it out in the comments. For example, does masculinity/femininity in a Side B or ex-gay person matter when it comes to ministry (would people--Christians especially--trust someone who was "obviously" gay or would they be suspicious?) Does it matter in terms of the possibility of marriage? And would others consider a lessening of these stereotypical mannerisms/habits as an aspect of one's change or healing from a non-Christian homosexual lifestyle? Have at it, guys...

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