This is the third (and last) in a series of blog posts about relationships between straight and gay men. See Is It Hard for Straight Men to Be Around Gay Men?” from July 20, and “Straight Men and Gay Men, Part 2” from July 21.
This is a guest blog piece from a straight friend who is sharing his thoughts about the issue of relationships between straight and gay men.
This guy has been a friend of mine since we met in first grade.
I read your email and the post on that blog that you referred me to. I found that article mildly offensive at first, because I said to myself, “I’m not like that.” But then I thought about it, and realized that indeed I am like that sometimes with gay people I don’t know. I find myself creating more space between me and someone I know or think is gay, and I have found myself avoiding them (I don’t go to the gay pride celebrations at work, for example.)
I realized that since I grew up in a strict Catholic environment, that my perceptions of what “gay” was were influenced by the Church, my family, and my friends. I know that I have felt uncomfortable around gay people, but did not realize why. I would not say that I felt digusted. That is a very strong word. But I agree that I never understood why a man would not enjoy intimate relationships with a woman. I also felt revolted (? too strong … but highly uncomfortable) by two things: the mere thought of two men having sex with each other, and also how some gay people act — frilly and flamboyant.
I know from knowing you for what, some 48 years?, that not all gay people are the same. You have remained the same, steady, strong friend I grew up with. You were there as an usher in our wedding, when our kids were born, and helped me finish our basement. Over my wife’s objections, you taught our oldest son how to ride a motorcycle safely. You cut through the county red tape so that my twin daughters could do a significant service project and win their honors in the Girl Scouts. In so many ways, you have been closely entwined with our family, and we remain grateful and appreciative.
That made me think — we have no aversion to you (as that blog post says.) Why? Because I knew you before you identified as being gay. I did not notice that you changed when you became more open about being gay, other than your self-confidence seemed to improve, and you became more relaxed and self-assured.
We have grown to admire and like your partner, too. While we don’t see him that often, we know that he cares for you a lot and we can see how much you love him, and he loves you. Your strong bond of commitment is parallel to what my wife teaches through her work in the Church’s Relationship Education program.
I also think that how I feel about you may be different from how I feel about other gay people because you act like a man. What I am saying is that I have never understood why some gay men act so flamey. You know what I mean. You have taught me that all gay people are not the same. I have to admit that I would be more distant if you behaved the way gay people come across on TV or on the news during those gay pride parades.
I remember one time that my older brother asked me about you and our relationship when he found out you were gay. I distinctly remember him asking me if I wouldn’t be seeing you any more. I was put in the uncomfortable situation of defending our friendship. Then I thought about it, and told my brother that you’re the same guy we always knew, and that he should change — not you. He didn’t say anything to me again.
Thank you for the chance to explain, and to comment. I have never written for a blog before — or even read yours until this week. But I will always be your friend, and appreciate your friendship in return. See you next week at the crab feast!