I have a bit of a pet-peeve to mention, and I hope that when you hear it, it will cause a few bells and whistles to go off in your brain, and you'll think, "Damn! You know, he's right!"
My eye twitches just a little bit every time someone defends The Gays by reducing homosexuality to what we do in the bedroom. I'll see a statement like, "What do you care what two people do in the privacy of their own bedroom?"
The intent is well-meaning, and I absolutely appreciate it, and I don't want anyone to think that our allies aren't appreciated by me. Keeping that in mind, I want to point out my mild annoyance by the fact that we're being reduced down to what we do in the bedroom.
I am gay all day long, every minute of the day, and every day of the year. As far as I know, all evidence seems to indicate that I will be gay until the day that I die. Even if I were celibate, I'd still be gay. I was gay, long before I ever had sex.
What do I mean? Well, you, as a straight ally are always straight. It's so ingrained into who you are, that you take it for granted how pervasive your sexual orientation is in your everyday life. It has an affect on so many aspects of your life which you may have never even considered:
- When you get invited to the company picnic, you bring your opposite sex partner, while I wonder if it will be safe for me to bring a guy, or if we're going to get joked about or harassed throughout the day, and later on, if I do bring him.
- When you get invited to a wedding reception, and it comes time to dance, you can take your opposite sex partner out on the dance floor and not worry that you'll be a distraction from the party. You don't have to feel self conscious.
- When you walk through the mall, holding your partner's hand, your biggest worry is about whether your hand is sweaty. Mine is whether those guys staring at us are going to jump us later when we walk out to the car.
- When you flirt with someone of the opposite sex, they may reject you, and you'll feel embarrassed, but that's about it. If I flirt with a cute guy, and it turns out that he's not gay, I could risk a black eye... or more.
- When you kiss your opposite sex partner goodbye at the airport, and give them a big hug when they return, you don't really give a second thought to anyone else around you. If I do that with a same sex partner, I feel self conscious and judged. I wonder who is looking at me and what they're thinking.
- When you want kids, well, you're able to have them, if all the plumbing is in working order. If it's not, adoption is an acceptable option. For us, we have to make special arrangements with friends or family, or adopt, and it is all considered controversial, and raises eyebrows of all the grandmotherly types.
- When you talk about your vacation with your opposite sex partner to your coworkers, you think nothing of it. I have to consider if I'm going to need to switch up pronouns, or whether I should skip the story altogether, or use this as an opportunity to come out.
- People assume you are straight. Unfortunately, they also assume that I am straight, so I am always coming out of the closet. Seriously. All the fucking time. Even if I'm "openly gay," when I walk into a room, and someone sees me wearing a Pride shirt, I still wonder what they'll think. I still have to come out to coworkers, and to new friends, to new employers... everyone I meet, I have to come out to. It's a neverending task. While it does get easier, there's still a teaspoon of anxiety before every mention of "Yeah, I'm gay, by the way," as you wait for their reaction.
- When you go out to eat with your opposite sex partner, people assume it's a romantic dinner for two. If I go out with a partner, it's assumed it's a business meeting. If we hold hands, we'll get stares and snickers.
Yes, I've drawn some comparisons which kind of show a disparity in how some people can take things for granted, but it is also to show how much of our lives are affected by our orientation. This isn't to blame straight people for how easy they may have it... and, though I kind of hate the term "privilege," as I think it's used to alienate people, more often than to turn them into allies, the above examples do show the privilege which straight people have, which may make them see being gay as just a "thing that people do in the bedroom." Even when there is just so much more to it than that.
So, what I would love to see happen, is for people to concentrate less on the SEX aspect of the orientation, because, well, honestly, as much as I'd love to brag about my sex life, and the massive quantities of sex I'm getting. It's actually a pretty miniscule part of my life, compared to all else in my life, yet I'm discriminated against, left and right, because of what people view as being all about sex.