I’m exploring the idea that projecting one’s sexual orientation is just a terrible idea. Showing people that you’re straight, coming out of the closet as gay or bi, it’s all folly. Hair length doesn’t matter. Nail polish doesn’t matter. All that matters is attraction and conveying it, plus being yourself.
Wanting to marry and have kids doesn’t mean you’re straight. It means you want to emulate traditional values. Being straight has nothing to do with this scenario. You can be bisexual and pull it off just as well. You can even pull it off if you’re gay. Perhaps not as enjoyably, but still entirely possible. The point is they’re unrelated concepts.
Sexual orientation is unrelated to goals.
Sexual orientation is unrelated to hobbies.
Sexual orientation is unrelated to vocation.
Sexual orientation is related ONLY to the sex of the people you find attractive.
The only think you convey by intentionally projecting masculine or feminine stereotypes is that you’re homophobic. This ALSO has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. You can be straight and homophobic. You can be gay and homophobic. You can be bi and homophobic.
The only useful way to convey your sexual orientation is to a person in whom you are interested in having an intimate relationship. And the best way to do that is to tell them you’re interested in having an intimate relationship.
(And hopefully, they will have read this or in some other way come to terms with how awkwardly blunt you just were, because we’re all supposed to be so much more subtle than that.)
The idea that I should be offended by the interests of another man is broken. The idea that I should crave the interest of women in whom I am not interested is broken. The way things are is broken.
The arguments for subtlety are broken. You can’t argue that a women with short hair and a pickup is a lesbian because that’s total bullshit. And when you argue that, you cast doubt and hurt into the mind of straight women who have short hair and drive a pickup. You can pile on more examples to make the picture less subtle. Maybe she hunts, too. Maybe she conveys any number of masculine stereotypes you have locked up in your brain. If you believe that tells you with any certainty what her sexual orientation is, you’re being hurtful.
Growing up, I was often believed gay. I’m not sure what list of stereotypes planted this certainty in peoples minds, but I was at least self-aware enough to know that I conveyed some feminine stereotypes like empathy, compassion, and politeness. I never had a boyfriend, and I never conveyed an interest in another male. There were, through the course of my adolescence and early adulthood, a number of women to whom I was attracted. There remains one woman to whom I am completely attracted. This alone conveys that I am not gay.
That I am still very empathetic does not bear any relevance to my orientation. Nor does the fact that I occasionally paint my nails. My schlocky affinity for Hugh Grant movies, and my disdain for violent and horror movies is equally irrelevant.
Right now, many people are choosing to openly proclaim their orientation to everyone. I get what this is about. Homophobic people want to project that they’re “ok”. Gay people want to be accepted. Bisexuals want to be acknowledged as existing and be accepted. Everybody wants to be accepted and liked. I can see how these actions are important at this point in our society. It just conveys that we haven’t reached a point of acceptance. (And I only want to talk about acceptance. Tolerance is an ugly, ugly thing that pretends to be acceptance, but is absolutely not.)
So what does acceptance look like, then? Acceptance is not cheerfully receiving the news of someone “coming out” with unsurprised congratulations. Cheer, coming out, lack-of-surprise, and congratulations are all inappropriate in a society of acceptance. It isn’t great news. It isn’t worthy of support. It’s like someone saying they like eggplant. Lots of people like eggplant. Lots of people dislike it. Lots of people are ambivalent about it. Some people don’t want eggplant at all, but they don’t congratulate someone else for eating it. Why would you do that? It’s just eggplant. I don’t feel compelled to share my personal feelings on eggplant with you. It just isn’t relevant to anything.
To continue carrying this metaphor to ridiculous extremes, what bearing do one’s feeling on eggplant have on the rest of their life? Do eggplant lovers all enjoy specific hobbies that eggplant haters dislike? Say you notice that a lot of people who eat eggplant also wear long-sleeve shirts, but that everyone else wears short sleeves. Would you presume, then, that anyone in long sleeves would be an eggplant lover? That’s a rhetorical question. You would. But what if your observation was instead that eggplant haters had shorter tempers and more violent outbursts? And what if you shared this observation with one of your close friends at work and they shared that they have made the same observation? Your prejudice has just been reinforced.
You may think you wouldn’t judge people based on eggplant consumption, but I mean to say that you’ve NEVER seen an exception to this. You reached a conclusion based on observations. A friend has reinforced this theory you’ve developed. You have basically employed the scientific method, right? It’s gotta be true. So now you pay a great deal of attention to who orders eggplant at the restaurant or has some in the fridge at work. You’re jumping to conclusions, and your mind is expecting behavior from people that is based on those conclusions. You would do this because people are prejudiced. It’s normal.
We are all prejudiced. We are hard-wired to see similarities and make assumptions based on those similarities. The excellent news is that we can overcome prejudice. First, we need to be aware of it. Once we are aware of our prejudices, we can actively work to undo the assumptions that create it. When you think about it, your “scientific” eggplant study had a pretty small sample size, didn’t it. Really, you only know like three people that love eggplant. And on further research, it turns out all three of those people are wealthy, have unloving mothers, and drive Audis. There are too many confounding variables, and you don’t know what relationships are causal, correlative, or purely coincidental. Your prejudice is shattered. Observation and education are always the best tools, aren’t they.
Why do we care what people like and what they want to enjoy? Why is it relevant to anything?