Why Being Gay Is Gay

Last April, I had just graduated college and was feeling anxious about my future so I did what any logical person would do; I started a satirical Twitter. Being Gay Is Gay was going to be my forum to tell jokes about the modern-day homosexual and comment (in 140 characters or less) on the vanity and narcissism that pervades gay culture. In the bio, I wrote, “Being gay is weird & hard”, wrote my first tweet and probably ate a burrito.

Eight months later, I have over 4,000 followers, which is both very little and a lot in the world of Twitter, and I receive e-mails a few times a month from gay kids around the world. Sometimes they ask for my advice on gay dilemmas, sometimes they just want to say “Hey” and sometimes they don’t speak English. But the most interesting e-mail I’ve received so far was perhaps the most simple and direct and it asked, “Why is being gay weird and hard?” At first, I read this question and was like, “Um, hello?” but then I actually thought about it and got overwhelmed. Why is being gay weird and hard? I thought I understood why but I realized I’d never articulated it to myself or anybody else. So I wrote back this e-mail:

Being gay is gay for a lot of reasons. We’re out, we’re supposed to be proud but our role models often disappoint us. Will & Grace, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy were TV shows that accepted gay men but only under certain conditions. Gay men are always hyper-sexualized but somehow never shown with men, our societal value is determined by how hot we are and how much we know about fashion and architecture etc. The media pushed this idea of the modern gay man but it failed to include most of the gay community. Instead, it pushed harmful stereotypes that we’re paying for today.

I also take issue with the gay man as the “accessory”, as the best friend who will give you tips on blow jobs and fashion but not much else. Gay men feed into it and so do the girls that love them and it’s a superficial bummer.

I know that in order to gain acceptance, you have to present society with the least complex concept of something and make it easy for them to digest. But I think it’s time to move beyond the one-dimensional and work on seeing gay men as multi-faceted people that don’t always dress well and fuck like rabbits.

So that was that. I also expanded on these ideas in a blog post called, “My So-Called Gay Life.”

Sometimes I feel like being gay is a full-time job. Do straight people ever feel straight? There are moments when I feel extra gay (like when I’m connecting to Britney Spears’ Blackout) and I’m not sure what that even means. This goddamn gay media has infiltrated my reality and it’s complicated my sexual identity. It’s made all the other gays I know go nuts too. We have our own set of pressures and expectations to deal with. Sometimes I feel weird for not liking Lady Gaga, not having 0.5 percent body fat or not wanting to go to gay bars on Santa Monica Blvd. I feel like a traitor to my own culture but then I realize that the idea of this collective gay culture is problematic. The only thing we all share in common is that we like dick. Then people wander off into their own sub-cultures and ride their bikes, bulk up muscle, grow a moustache, get into a monogamous relationship or do whatever else they want to do to be happy. Sometimes I just overdose on gay. I’m here, I’m queer, peace out.

Reading this now, I’m not sure if I feel exactly the same way anymore. I’m a lot less angry and more optimistic. I mean, I love being a gay man. It’s interesting because some people have accused Being Gay Is Gay of being homophobic, which is kind of the opposite of my intention. My Twitter just sort of morphed into this space where gay men could bitch about gay life and also laugh at themselves in the process. And sometimes I do get frustrated with being gay and what that entails but that just makes me want to fix things and make them better.

Ugh, this all sounds like I’ve been sitting in a liberal arts college socratic seminar for too long but I guess I don’t really care. Gay people are living in a really exciting time right now. We’re slowly but surely earning the visibility we so rightfully deserve and it’s up to us to do something good with it. Gay men shopping and telling bitchy jokes has its place. I do those things quite a bit. But we don’t want it to take up the whole gay picture. TC mark

You should follow Thought Catalog on Twitter here.

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • http://www.howtomingle.com parker lee

    wow. magically written.

  • Piquo

    The whole 'gays having gay friends' thing is also really difficult due to cultural perceptions. Sometimes it's assumed that either you want to fuck or have nothing to do with one another. Huge detriment to community cohesiveness.

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    Cool piece. I agree that people are people, and sometimes stereotypes can match up at moments; as a gay friend said to me about “flaming out” sometimes but generally him and his boyfriend were considered by his group as the “straight-gay couple.” And other than liking dick, he was just like anyone else I was friends with. And I also had neighbors that were a couple and Deadheads. Full on hippy Deadheads, who didn't have the least bit of stereotypicalness to them. But I think a lot of Deadheads are gay. The human heart is universal.

  • http://hbgwhem.tumblr.com/ hbgwhem.tumblr.com

    If liking a fantastic album like “Blackout” makes you gay, then I guess I'm John Travolta.

  • mom

    Ryan you are evolving as writer I am honored to be able to watch it

  • http://www.facebook.com/noahtourjee Noah Tourjee

    Just remember that at least you get to eat out guys instead of girls.

  • http://www.likestoramble.com Bran

    Really nice post. I poked fun at the whole “gay men as accessories” thing on my own blog a few weeks ago, but then I'm a total hypocrite in real life because I let people treat me like that anyway. WHATEVER MAN

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruno-Mareto/100000227094078 Bruno Mareto

    Hi, Ryan, I really liked your text. I am Brazilian and I'm studying psychology at the university, and I'm always interested in sexuality. Last week I presented a research on the real distance and differences between BDSM and “vanilla” (not BDSM) relationships, and I had to go through some history of perversion and sexuality. I also found this sexologist who talks about an “invention” of homossexuality and heterossexuality, and also talks about psychoanalysis' claim that humans are “potentially bisexual” and that there is no natural sexuality, neither healthy or harmful sexual behaviour, and that sexual identity is absolutely unique to each one of us. I strongly believe there are NO RULES, we're just used to having them. You definitely chose the right point to start an argument: culture. Bull's eye. Let's question ourselves a little harder than usual, shall we?

    • Justin

      Confirmation bias combined with culture can be a powerful thing

  • http://kennychailatte.wordpress.com/ Kenny

    I love you. Gay marry me. Now!

  • http://www.stefanbrink.com wyrd

    “I’m a lot less angry and more optimistic. I mean, I love being a gay man.”

    I love that line

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