I am continuing to enjoy an ongoing dialogue with a partnered gay man who inspires me to think. He’s a smart guy who writes exceptionally well. He lives in a state north of me, one with which my partner is quite familiar.
Lately, he wrote:
Many gay people I know are what I refer to as “separatists.” They don’t keep close straight friends and spend their time either at the gym or with gay friends. Their conversations are about gay issues. It’s like there’s an invisible wall between them and the rest of the world that they just don’t seem to want to pass through.
He acknowledges that he is generalizing and that it is a particular segment of the population to which he is referring, not the whole. But I have noticed that, too. The few gay people that I know around the area where I live tend to behave that way — they only socialize with other gay people, go to the gym or out to eat only with ‘their own.’ I rarely see them with ‘straight’ people.
For me, on the other hand, the vast majority of my friends and people with whom I socialize are ‘straight.’ I love to ride my motorcycle, and several years ago, I rode with a gay motorcycle club. But just like my buddy said, all the members of that club talked about was whatever ‘gay drama’ was going on at the time, themselves, and gossip about other people. They did not pay much attention to what was going on in the world around them. Sometimes they chided me for being so involved in my community with issues related to development, planning, zoning, schools, and transportation.
Having little patience with gay drama, I left that club and joined another motorcycle club in which I believe I am the only member who is openly gay. The club members like to ride; I like to ride. That’s it — we ride! No drama, no ‘issues.’ But I observe during conversations with club members that they are keenly aware of the world around them, and some, like me, get involved in trying to make our world a better place.
My buddy and I both feel that perhaps we do not have the same feeling of “solidarity” with the gay community as the other gay people we respectively know. We both understand that our respective upbringing and masculine outlook undoubtedly affects the way we relate to other gay men.
We live, for all intents and purposes, as straight men when it comes to the every day. It is just who we are. Both of us are not pretending or in any way avoiding any part of what makes us who we are. Take it or leave it, what you see is what you get.
My friend continued:
I have to remember that just because I live this way, many others do not and that’s fine. But because I do, I believe I tend to see things from a more global perspective and not from a corner of one very small segment of the population. I believe in the statement “think globally, act locally.” Unfortunately, I think man gay people pledge their allegiance to “think locally, act locally” (or “think within the community, act within the community”).
I have shared with my buddy, and all who know me, that I am a community activist — but I define my community as the neighborhoods and geographic region where I live, not ‘the gay community’ as some may think. He replied, in kind, as follows:
It is noble and responsible of you to speak out at meetings in your community. I find your conviction in politics and community welfare refreshing. So much of “our” community (by that I mean gay people in this country) concern themselves with things that are quite frankly self-centered, or gay-centric, and don’t stop to think that they might be able to use their energy for the “greater good”.
I was humbled by the demonstration of my buddy’s respect for my community involvement, and appreciate it.
So my buddy and I muse, “is there a lack of willingness in the gay community to reach out to the greater community? Are they afraid of not being accepted, or of being taunted or rejected by others? Do men in the gay community feel uncomfortable, or spurn, getting involved in issues outside their gay comfort zone? What do you think?”