Author’s note: I used “gay” in this article to mean gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, trans. I’m sorry if I should have used a more inclusive term but gay and homo are the most common terms I use with my friends. I know this isn’t the same thing as being transsexual, for example. Please feel free to include yourself under any, all, or none of the terms used in the article. I apologize in advance if I insult anyone, it’s not my intention.
At Brown, the sexuality spectrum runs the gamut from straight as an arrow to gay as RuPaul. Our campus is more colorful than ROY G BIV, so it’s rare to find a truly homophobic voice on campus. That’s not to say that everyone on campus open-heartedly embraces freedom of sexuality, but I can’t remember the last time I heard an openly hostile homophobic argument within the Van Wickle Gates. If you want to hear a discussion on the sanctity of the institution of marriage, you’ll probably have to wait for the next spicy Janus lecture series.
But recently something struck me as equally noxious on this campus – homohesitancy. What is homohesitancy? And how do you know if you’re infected with it? Before I get there, let me tell you a story to illustrate the point.
My gay friend Larry graduated as a .5’er this year. Last week was his graduation, and after the ceremonies, his friends and family gathered in his off-campus house, where they shared drinks and laughter. Around 10 pm, Larry got a text:
Pray the Gay Away party tonight. Last big one of the year.
Larry was excited to ask everyone to join. He had been out for three years now to his friends and family, all of whom were supportive. But as he scanned the room, he only saw reluctance.
“Mmmm…but Larry,” asked one of his best girlfriends, “won’t there just be gay guys?”
“Yeah,” another friend said, arms crossed. “No straight guys for us. No fun.”
“I agree,” Larry’s sister chimed in. “Why don’t you just stay here with us? Don’t leave us here! We came to see you.”
In that moment, Larry was being forced to make an unfair decision. “They wanted me to choose between being with the people I love or…being gay,” he confided to me later that week.
It dawned on me that I’ve never faced such an unfair compromise. I’ve always been able to be straight and hang out with my friends at the same time, no questions asked and no hesitation, ever.
It was truly messed up. The theme of the gay party that night – “pray the gay away” – was a satire on religious fanaticism. Only in a place as open as Brown could such a party exist, where gay and straight people come together for a night of sweat and hooking up, a big f* you to mainstream America. But while our campus pokes fun at the homophobia and paranoia that dominates most of this country’s prevailing politics, we do not stop to question the more subtle forms of homophobia and homo-discomfort on campus.
Some symptoms of homo-hesitancy:
- You let your a gay or lesbian friends go to gay or lesbian parties alone.
- You do not proactively ask your gay friend about his/her/phe’s dating life.
- You make a face or get awkwardly silent when you hear stuff about anal sex, strap-ons or any other non-conventional straight stuff.
- You have never been to Mirabar.
How to get cured:
- Talk about it more. Maybe you are uncomfortable with different sexualities without even realizing it. Just like you ask your straight friends about their love lives, it’s time to start talking to your gay friends about what they’re going through. Do not wait for your friend to raise the topic. It gets old.
- Go to a gay party. Yes, there will be straight people there. No, just the fact that you have a dick doesn’t mean another man will grab it without asking. People at gay parties are normal and polite. Some of them will be drunk and wild. You’d be surprised how much a gay/lesbian party looks like your everyday Wriston frat part. (Except: they’re usually more fun.)
- Learn to have fun just for the hell of it. True, if you are straight, your chances of hooking up go down the moment you enter a gay party. But do you need to get laid every time you get drunk? What happened to just a good ol’ time, dancing the night away to Lady Gaga with your friends?
- Make a sacrifice. That’s what we do for people we love. Your gay friend has been bored at many a straight party before. But he or she has stayed with you, and perhaps even held your hair back as you’ve vomited all over Wickenden Avenue (thank you, Sam!). Suck up a little boredom or discomfort. Your gay friend needs a wing friend, too!
That’s what I’ve got for this week. Good luck with finals. Don’t forget: sex is a great way to relieve stress and break up the day. Orgasm can help mental focus.
Until next time,
Heather Hot Pants