Back when I was first struggling with my feelings for men, the gay man who would have the most negative impact on my coming out told me that gay men and lesbians didn’t got along. Maybe that comment — along with the vision of growing old and becoming like him — pushed me further into the closet.
I’ve always liked lesbians — and have been accused of being one myself (on more than one occasion). My fellow Outfest Theater Managers
jokingly call me “the lesbian.” A real lesbian gave me a T-shirt, “Lesbian Trapped in a Man’s Body.” (I think I’ll wear that to the gym today.)
Yesterday, as I was preparing my “Statement of Research Interest,” offering a proposed dissertation topic as part of my application to continue on for my Ph. D. in my grad program in Mythology, I quoted from Norah Vincent’s most excellent book, Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back (which I reviewed here) and realized given my strong praise for Mary Cheney’s most excellent memoir, Now It’s My Turn: A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life that two of my favorite new books this year were written by lesbians.
Maybe I like lesbians so much because, by and large, they “get” relationships. In his comment to my latest, one of my most thoughtful critics (who this time seems to agree with me) wrote:
The other thing that I think Andrew is acknowledging is that gay marriage does have different qualities than a heterosexual marriage. Its different even from a lesbian marriage. The gender of the participants does have an impact.
Yup, gender does have an impact. Lesbians are far more likely to be monogamous than gay men, indeed, may well even be more committed to monogamy than straight men.
Maybe I’m writing this, because despite the cynical words of my negative role model*, this gay man tends to get along with lesbians. Maybe it’s because they “get” me (on some level), less likely to explain away regrets I have expressed about my indiscretions than gay men do, more likely to sympathize with my longings for affection and intimacy. And better able to appreciate the full meaning of relationships.
I’m not really sure why I’m writing this. I’ve had a bit of trouble focusing on my work today and this post just came to mind. Maybe it was Patrick’s insightful comment. Or maybe it’s just that, after a hectic week with a number of obligations, I’m feeling particularly “lesbian,” longing for a tender moment with someone of my own gender. Or maybe, as the Senate prepares to debate gay marriage, I think we need to point out that many, many lesbian couples provide successful examples of monogamous same-sex unions.
And those are the types of role models we need.
My negative role model notwithstanding, I realize how much we gay men need lesbians in our lives. It’s time we start learning from them.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
*Is there such a thing as a negative role model? If so, is that someone who gives us a bad example to follow or one who, in my case, made it more difficult for me to come to terms with my difference?