Hypocrisy…Not That There’s Anything Wrong With It? Really?

“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.


8 Responses to Hypocrisy…Not That There’s Anything Wrong With It? Really?

  1. lacochran says:

    We are all works in progress. You sound further down the path than most.

    The assumption on the Marine’s part that you were only trying to get sex was offensive, whether you were gay or straight. I’m not surprised that he was suspicious of you. So few people are willing to do a nice thing for a stranger.

    But back to wanted to identify yourself as straight… don’t we all just want to be clear about who we are? Or maybe it is more than that.

    Certainly thought provoking.

  2. Kristin says:

    I’ve only recently started to realize that I really don’t care what people think of my sexuality, except when it leads to awkward situations with nonreciprocating feelings.

    I used to care, though. I don’t know why. It’s nobody’s business.

    LA’s right. We’re all works in progress. My foot has spent entirely too much time firmly entrenched in my mouth, but I’m working on it.

  3. Fearless says:

    I believe that recognition and frank discussion of one’s own insecurities and shortcomings is the key to overcoming them.

  4. We’d like to be perfect but alas- that’s a no go. We do the best we can while trying to be true to ourselves.

  5. f.B says:

    I’ve never been seen as a “guy’s guy.” There are traits of mine people incorrectly assume define a member of a class, and therefore they incorrectly assume I’m a member. And so I understand the sense of not wanting to be questioned. Yet, I also feel the pressure of thinking I need to assert counter-traits in order to change minds. As if they matter.. But finding the balance between asserting self and not marginalizing others is really difficult.

  6. ella says:

    “fearless” above said it best…

    i point the finger at myself too, the insecurity/shortcommings can best be overcome when identified, publicized and hopefully rectified (again, pointing finger at myself).

  7. Lazygal says:

    I agree with LA – part of your response was you trying to correct a misidentification (be it gay, Jewish, cold or a reader of Dan Brown). And that’s ok.

    The fact that it caused you to question to root of your anger? Part of me wants to say “even better”, and part of me wants to say “overreaction”. Your choice.

  8. I obviously can’t speak for how you were raised, so I’m just going to speak for myself. You might find a common truth.

    I attended Catholic school from first through sixth grades. The only thing I remember being communicated to me in any way related to homosexuality was that if a man ever attempted to touch me, I should report it to an authority figure. I believe this advice was given to the girls as well.

    In the locker room, and on the playing fields of the after-school sports teams my parents signed me up to play on (never did much care for sports), it was a different story, and being seen as a “girly man” was the deepest insult one could receive from your peers (“wuss” being, possibly, a close second).

    As an adult, I can rationally appraise homosexuality as a perfectly valid lifestyle, deserving of the same legal protections as enjoyed by hetrosexuals: how can anyone tell someone else who they can or cannot love? It makes no sense to me. Most of my friends I know from work, or the internet: many are gay (here’s a weird thing: if I have any gay coworkers at the Office, they keep it to themselves, whereas at the Bookstore, a pretty blue collar place, people are very open about their sexuality. It’s just an interesting dynamic).

    But there is still a part of me, deep down, that cringes when I see two men kiss. I don’t think it’s my heart: I was elated when my coworker’s partner was released from the hospital following surgery, and I think the joy I felt on his behalf was equal to anything I could feel for a straight couple. There is a part of me that wants to retaliate with fists when someone implies that I am not straight. I don’t particularly care for these reactions, so I tell myself, “Oh, you’re just upset because those guys have each other, and all you’ve got is an overweight cat at home.” That’s a cop out, though.

    I read a study that kids can be imprinted by a young age with behavorial responses, and maybe that’s to blame for the anger I feel sometimes. But that feels like a cop out, too.

    I feel shame, because, yes, it makes me feel like a hypocrite. On the other hand, maybe we all have that same ugly inner-self inside of ourselves, and it’s how we react to it that determines what kind of a person we are.

    I don’t like that aspect of myself, but I don’t know anyway to rid myself of it: digging into my chest with a rusty spoon and chucking that pit into the trash isn’t an option.

    So I guess I’ll have to breed it out: my goal, if I ever have kids, is to make sure they know that being a “girly boy” is no insult.

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