“One of the more insidious elements of isms (homophobia included despite the absence of the suffix) is that in the best among us it still exists in the disquiet of our cognitive dissonance.”
That was the operative sentence in an email I sent to a blog friend (who happens to be gay) in reply to a message asking me to explain what I meant with my reference to my own “latent homophobia” in a recent post.
[Cliff Notes Version for those who don’t want to read the link: Latish one Saturday evening I decided to help a very drunken Marine safely navigate the Metro. While literally holding him upright and moving him down platform to a seat and eventually the train, he refused to give me his address because he became convinced that I wanted said information for nefarious purposes of a homosexual nature. I abandoned my attempts to help him after he unleashed a particularly vile expletive and epithet laden torrent. As I ascended the escalator I was angry with myself for feeling angry about being accused of such a thing and with those motives.]
My declaration about anger was written lazily and failed to explain fully my sentiment. The truth of the matter is not that I hated being accused of being gay. I hated that I wanted to respond to the claim. (Look at the language I just used: accused – is someone ever accused of being straight? That rings to the core of the cognitive dissonance, the hypocrisy.)
I resent the question of sexuality as patently irrelevant and offensive in most cases, but when asked in front of other people I want to answer in the heterotive, despite my resentment.
It has never been a problem for me to tell people that I love the L Word, but, in retrospect, I have followed, usually and less than casually, with a mention of my affinity for something stereotypically masculine.
I know that there is no causal connection between that which is masculine or feminine and sexuality, but emotionally make the assumptions nonetheless.
I believe that marriage should be a right for all people without regard to sexual orientation; I want to attend the wedding ceremonies of my homosexual friends but don’t want people to question my sexuality because I am there.
I smile at same sex couples holding hands on the street, applaud them publicly displaying affection, and routinely hug my male friends by way of greeting, congratulations or otherwise; but I would be leery of displaying that affection in overtly public settings.
I bristle at gay jokes, have no problems alerting the teller to my offense taken, but sometimes find myself stifling laughter at some that are not intellectually funny.
I have oft said that a member of the oppressing class has no right to declare themselves free from the stigma of oppression (i.e. it is not possible for a man to declare himself free from sexism) and I sadly proved my own point about myself.