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I’m a man. Not a girl.


Camp is one thing. I’m fine with it. You can put your hand on your hip and sass me all you want. And I just might do the same right back at you. Hell, you can come over to my house and belt out show tunes if you want to. But don’t call me a girl.

Among my many good friends, ones who have helped me as I have come out into the world, is this one: I’ve known him and his partner for 20 years or more. He’s been ­– and remains – good friends with my ex, too. He and his partner are two of the first people I told about being gay. True to form, this guy stepped up and offered to help me with the transition. He invited me to lunch, and encouraged me to talk about or ask anything I wanted to. When I got to the table and sat down, the first thing he said was, “Girl, what are we going to do with you?” I was shocked at the strength of my reaction. I told him that I was a man, not a girl, and not to call me one.

My friend meant absolutely no harm by this, of course. He simply wanted to lighten the atmosphere going into a conversation that might prove to be full of anguish. He gave me a pass on my rather direct – to say the least – response, explaining that gay guys were into camp, and that I might need to work on getting used to it. Not because it was an issue of right or wrong, but because it was something I was going to see a good bit of in certain circles. He also promised he wouldn’t call me a girl again. Nice. As I said, a good friend.

But the girl thing still sticks in my craw. Camp or no camp, my gut-level feeling is that gay men calling each other girl is an unfortunate sign of internalized homophobia operating at a very deep, perhaps unconscious, level. Many of us have been taught that we are not normal (whatever the hell normal means). Not as good as others. Not real men. We are like little girls, and with that comes the implication of weakness, silliness, cattiness – all the negative traits that are, fairly or not, associated with little girls.

To that I say, Bullshit!

We are men, and we are normal. But we can’t act that way unless we accept ourselves as such. This is something I have struggled with my whole life. And it is not easy! But the interesting thing is this: I feel much more like a whole, real, normal man now that I’m out, than I ever did in the past. Cool, huh?

So, bring on Judy and Liza! And Barbara! All you want, baby! I’m cool with that. To be perfectly truthful, I’m more of a Tina Turner/Aretha Franklin kind of guy (and I absolutely draw the line at Celine Dion), but no matter. The point is this: There’s nothing wrong with camp as long as it’s a bunch of men enjoying it.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Branham permalink
    06/28/2010 3:48 PM

    Very well written, and I completely understand — though this obnoxious stuff is occasionally funny, it gets REALLY irritating after a while. Nails on a chalkboard, in fact. (Even more irritating — guys referring to each other by “Miss (last name).” Especially when the speaker says it as if it’s the most biting, witty thing EVER.

  2. 06/28/2010 4:05 PM

    I knew I wasn’t the only one who found this irritating. I didn’t burn down an entire life, leaving a perfectly good woman in the process, to become a girl.

    And, yeah, how witty can anything be when you’ve said/heard it for the millionth time.


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