I’m not a complainer by nature. I don’t like whining about my “problems” or going to my friends on some I’m so sad about so and so because in the grand scheme of things, my life is awesome. This practice also carries over to the Internet. I’ve blogged off and on since high school and I look back at some of those old entries and think “wow, you were a really whiny brat, bitching about everything.”
Every once in awhile I’ll get the urge to write about being gay and my personal insecurities with being gay—especially in a city like NYC with an inordinately high concentration of attractive people—but then I’m like “wait, that’s stupid, don’t write that.” Welllll…..I had a really shitty day so I’m in this weird (but familiar) headspace where I hate all gay people and I feel like putting it down for these reasons:
- It’s the night before Thanksgiving. About 80% of my traffic comes during Work Day Hours and I assume random people have me bookmarked to entertain them in their cubicles. Therefore, not very many people will read this.
- Most of my friends are (still) straight men. Whom I love dearly. But talking about “feelings” with a straight man is like walking in on your mom getting out of the shower. It’s really gross and uncomfortable and you want to forget it ever happened.
- I don’t really have anybody in my real life that I’d want to talk to about this. I’d like for the gay (and girl) friends that I *do* have to understand my whole love/hate relationship with gay bars/culture/dating, but to sit down and complain face to face always turns into “oh but Rafi you’re so great” and that’s not what this is about. I actually really like being Me everyday. I don’t need to be pooh-poohed and patted on the head and told to buck up. It just is what it is. (It’ll be more clear later)
- I feel like there are other homos (especially brown ones) who can relate. So I’ll get a bunch of messages like “OMG that’s totally me.”
So here it go. Major whine session to follow.
First of all, can we talk about what it’s like to be a brown person in a white person’s world in general? Aside from the political, economical, and social ramifications borne out of White Is Right, the white man’s standard of beauty is so pervasive and all around us. How many A-list black actresses can you name? Ok now how many of those are darker than a brown paper bag? Right. None. And if you stumbled upon one that I missed and she’s *ever* been cast in a romantic role, I will eat this entire laptop.
So that whole “the browner you are, the uglier you are” thing is very real and especially so with the gays. Men are visual. Gay men are very visual. And the gay standard of beauty is like the white man’s standard taken to the most exclusive level possible. Not only do you need to be white, but you need to be athletic, with chiseled features, and masculine and all kinds of weird shit. These are all generalizations, but generalizations don’t come out of nowhere—they’re there because more people than not follow them. And more gays than not look straight through you unless you could at least stand in the background of an American Eagle catalog.
Anything outside of that narrow standard is fetishized. If you’re Asian, you better be a submissive bottom. Hairy? Grow some facial hair and be as butch and scruffy as possible. Fat? You are only welcome at chub/chaser functions, otherwise you don’t exist. Black? You are only necessary for your big penis and your aggressive topping skills and you need to look the part by wearing jeans & sneakers and never smiling, otherwise you are now a bottom and only useful for DL tops to find and subsequently dick-down.
In general, if you’re a white guy outside of the Hollister mold, you can get by on the sheer fact that you are indeed white. You wanna be a redneck? Go for it. Punk? Somebody will hit on you. Hipster? Sure, even if no one but other hipsters approach you.
But for a black guy, you really only have three options: The uber macho top, the uber fem bottom, or the white-black guy, who, even though he’s black, dresses the part of the middle-of-the-road white guy because at least that’s a form of non-threatening gayness that doesn’t offend anyone. Pretty much anything outside of that is considered “fem” which is the death of any gay man who wants to be successful in the dating pool. We could spend all day talking about why that is and how sexist that is and how feminism has a long way to go and how being a girl is still the worst thing you can ever be, but that’s for another day. Suffice to say, the fem guy has the hardest time in the gay dating world. And for black men, the range of masculinity is so much smaller than for white ones. White guy in [insert weird outfit] is just artsy. Black guy in the same outfit is automatically fem.
So put simply, I’m a gay black man who doesn’t fit the boxes built for me by gay white men and therefore I don’t exist. I’m not butch enough to be the stereotypical aggressive top and I’m not fem enough to be the sassy gay bottom, not just for white men, but for all men, because the white man’s standard is adopted by every one.
I already know how to fix it. Cut my hair, change my clothes, and go middle of the road gay. I did it once in college and it did indeed raise my dating prospects. But I felt like a fraud because I had just conformed myself into what gay america wanted me to be instead of how I really wanted to express myself. I get into these moods where I’m like “fuck it, let me just be what the gays want me to be so I can have a better gay social life” but then I come to my senses and realize that gay men make up maybe 5% of the population. Well, the other 95% (Rafi included) thinks Rafi looks great, so the gays can just go kick rocks.
Gay men don’t like the way I look, therefore no dates. Got it. Let’s move on to friends. Well…gay men are narcissists. That’s the only way I can explain the fact that “hello” to a gay man means “I want to have sex with you.” Truly. Try walking up to a gay man in a bar and saying “hello.” If he’s attracted to you, the conversation progresses. If he’s not, it’s going to be a struggle. And if you don’t look like you’re even attractive enough to belong to his social circle, well that conversation won’t even start. You might as well talk to the jukebox. That is my life trying to make gay friends. Presumably, every gay man I attempt to talk to assumes I’m doing so because I want to have sex with him and if that feeling isn’t reciprocated, then I just wasted my breath and my time. I coulda just stayed home with a V8 and reruns of I Love Lucy.
Online is worse. Ten times worse. Assuming I send a hello that even gets answered—because my success rate is about 1 returned message for every 50 sent—online, people have a chance to actually know a me little bit. We’ve discovered we have XYZ in common. You’ve laughed at my jokes. We’ve done the whole “wow we should hang out” and then we trade Facebook pages. And now you can see hundreds of pictures of me and how I really look. Suddenly “wow we should hang out” turns into one word responses in our IM and five minute delays in the conversation. So I don’t play that online game. The worst thing for an insecure gay man’s self esteem is to try to make friends online. I might as well strip naked at a gay gym and have people laugh and point at what’s wrong with me.
Now. I know I have Personality Plus. (straight) People really take a liking to me and everyone who gets to know me generally wants to be friends. Awesome. But the fact that I’m not GayCute pretty much leads all of my meetings with gay men to a platonic result, assuming I can convince them I’m funny/smart/interesting enough to hang out with in the first place. That’s cool. But sometimes I get torn between having gay friends and a gay social life, and just avoiding it altogether. Usually, when I do make close gay friends, one of two things happen: 1) I had feelings for them from the beginning or they developed, but they’ll never be returned because I’m not GayCute so it’ll end badly or 2) I get jealous of them for having the dating life that I want and meeting guy after guy after guy, for date after date after date and telling me about. I want to be that friend who listens attentively, but sometimes (usually in winter) I get frustrated and I just avoid the gays altogether. Every date is essentially reinforcing how much more attractive they are than I am, so every conversation is one more chip at my gay self-esteem.
I specify GayCute and gay self-esteem because they really are different from the regular. I know I’m not ugly. I know I have great hair and interesting clothes and a big smile. Unfortunately all of that self-esteem goes out the window in a group of gay men or in a gay bar because I’m invisible (or an alien) so I spend a lot of time around straight men who don’t care what I look like and a few straight girls who tell me how cute I am.
Making friends is hard. Being friends is hard. And getting dates is nearly impossible.
So what happens when a gay man says “Hey I really like you….and you’re cute.” To be honest, I usually block it out. I don’t want to get my hopes up, so I just go on thinking the infatuation will wear off and we’ll be friends. But on the off chance that somebody insists that we date, well, I’m all in. And I’ll settle for a lot of things my friends won’t because, let’s be honest, they have more options. Beggars can’t be choosers and sometimes you just wanna feel attractive and liked by someone, so the relationship happens. And even when it’s bad and not working I will still stay on way past its expiration date because in the back of my head, Rafi is saying “You could end it…but really, how long will it be before another gay man shows you interest?” So I stay. Half-happy, half-miserable, but I stay way longer than I should.
And that’s where I’m at now. I just ended something for good (we’ve been doing the breakup/makeup game for so long now) and I have no prospects on the horizon. Before him, the last gay date I had gone on was maybe…….two years? I just don’t think I’m built for gay life. My ego is a little too fragile, I’m a little too insecure, and definitely not GayCute enough to keep putting myself out there, and for what? So I can possibly, after tons of rejection, half-date some guy that I maybe-almost like for a few months? Before, my answer to that question was Yes, but I’m re-thinking it. I would like to be GayPopular, but everybody would like to change something about themselves. Maybe I should just be content with the fact that I’m StraightPopular, girls wanna talk to me, straight guys wanna hang out with me, and there are more of them to choose from anyway. Letting myself feel bad about myself trying to build a gay social life is silly when my straight one is on and poppin. And if that means I have to be single, so be it. I’ll just find some ugly friends to be single with and we can get drunk and throw things at pretty people.
(So watch out, because I have a really good arm)