Even if I didn’t have a sexual urge in my body, and were one hundred per cent asexual, I would still be gay because I’m not gay because of the kind of sex I want to have, but because I fall in love with guys. It is sometimes valuable to keep that in mind when people’s crude expectations intervene in one’s life.
No matter what area of life, it seems like Mark and I are touristing in different scenes. When we go into a scene, like the LGBT one, we’re on a quick safari, and we’ll go there and have a quick indulgence, and then retreat to our own bubble afterwards.
It’s like this with university life too. While friends, acquaintances, and people we don’t actually like, live the hall and campus life of the typical university student, Mark and I dip our toes into it secure in our outsider-ness. When we want to, we go back to our little middle-class house in our middle-class area, and live our middle-class life.
That kind of arrangement makes us a bit complacent about things sometimes, and we foolishly whine about things that do not actually affect us much. Like, our safari trip yesterday into the underbelly of the local LGBT scene. In our safe little cocoon, we don’t fully appreciate that the LGBT scene is a life-line for other people who aren’t as fortunate as us.
A few years ago, Mark was involved in a little LGBT club at his then school. It was the usual fare: fighting homophobia in a setting which was largely free of it except for those lazy stupid assumptions people make casually. Mark still has a tether to that, and sometimes meet with the people who did the same as him back then.
Yesterday, Mark and I, and two others met up in an LGBT venue, and it felt like a little safari for Mark and me. We were going to enjoy a little LGBT socializing. Spend some time with people just like us. Except one of the people who showed up had spent the last year living on other people’s sofas because his parents had reacted very badly when they found out he was gay.
That puts things in perspective, it does. Mark and I have a wonderful life, with caring and considerate parents who don’t care and who support us. Our families are good, if clueless, and do try. Other families aren’t like that.
The difference between facing racism and facing homophobia, if one wants to make that differentiation is this: a kid facing racism has allies who support him or her inside their own family. A black man, or a Jewish man, is not going to side with the racist when little Karim comes home crying after being subjected to racist abuse. They’re not going to say things like “well, stop chosing being Black or Jewish, and they’ll stop. That’s just disgusting.”
A gay kid does not necessarily have allies and support in their own family. Sometimes, or even often, the parents will side with the homophobe against their own kid. With most people, being gay equates to sexual activity. And sexual activity is a choice. One can do it, or not do it. When thirteen year old Jimmy who fancies his best mate, the parents can’t get around the sexual aspect of it. And since it’s about sex, people can judge. And little Jimmy can sit in his closet and become more and more confused and hurt. And if worst comes to worst, little Jimmy can be kicked out of the house and have to scrabble for a place to sleep for a full year, and wear out the patience of friends and lovers alike.
Sex is an effect, not a cause. I have sex the way I do because I’m gay. I am gay because I fall in love with other guys. That makes all the difference, and since the rest of the world does not appreciate the difference, then us going into the LGBT scene on a safari like we did is carelessness and privilege – because for some people the LGBT scene is the lifeline that, for a little while, removes the cage of silence and isolation.
For some people, that life-line is the difference between acceptance and destruction. I can’t imagine how our table partner for the evening coped, and from the stories he told it was a close run sometimes. But he had this scene, and he had this outlet. That makes us who treat the LGBT scene as a bit camp, a bit silly, something we can indulge but never actually live in in quite foolish.