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Having trouble with the G word?

07/07/2010

I did, too. For a while.

I never liked the term “gay.” I always had trouble untangling it from other meanings of the word – as in happy, or carefree. And for me, until recent years, the idea of gayness had no connections whatsoever with a state of happy- or carefree-ness.

What it brought to mind were cultural stereotypes that terrified me. Gay meant silly, flighty and unserious. And, everyone knew gay men were like that – foolish, foppish, weak, inconsequential. I didn’t want to be like that, so of course I couldn’t be gay … could I?

And then there was the occasional use of the word Gay as a woman’s name. I always thought that was both dumb – Who could be happy all the time? – and excessively girly. I didn’t want anything to do with that!

So, I didn’t like the term gay – in any way at all, much less as a way to describe myself.

But I got over it.

Eventually, I realized that my objections were really rooted in my fear of being myself. The dislike of the word gay was just a smokescreen for deeply internalized homophobia. I didn’t like myself as gay, so I didn’t like the word.

This came into focus for me when a guy I know acknowledged to himself and a few close friends that he was gay. But he was so unhappy about it, that for a long time he couldn’t even say the word. He’d form sentences to avoid using it, or he’d use another, purposely vague term like “that way” to describe what he regarded as his affliction. At this point I was beginning to come to terms with my gayness, and this man’s intense dislike of himself and his orientation really opened my eyes.

My friend is still struggling with the issue (I try to encourage him as much as he will let me) but as I got more comfortable in my own skin, the easier it became to say it – both to myself and to others. Eventually it began to happen naturally in conversation. It came as a surprise the first time I heard myself tell someone else, “I’m gay.” But it felt pretty good afterward, and it feels better all the time.

I have to admit here that I’m still not crazy about the term. I’d rather it be some other word. But it is what it is.

I have another friend who’s been out pretty much his entire life. He’s never liked the term gay, either. Sometimes he tells people that he’s not gay, he’s SGO – same gender oriented. Fine. I’m okay with that. And, I’d probably like things better if gay faded away and SGO became the dominant term.

But, in the meantime, I’m okay with gay.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. nanci Reese permalink
    07/09/2010 3:37 AM

    Dear David,
    What does SGO mean? In SF and probably where you are there are a range of gay guys. There are the Buffed up ones that work out alot, there are the “Bears” who are usually a bit older and hairy. There are you sterotipical gays that are swishhy etc. There are the drag Queens. However many” cross dresser” are straight. There are the leather guys who have a party each year on Folsom street and alot of butts sticking out over there chaps. There are also the S&M guys and girls. I have three gay boyfriends ( maybe 4 if you count) and they doen’t fit into any of these catagories so I wonder what to call them. People who prefer same sex sex? I guess though I am a fag hag. I love my gay boyfriends. Some times I wish they weren’t gay so we could be sexual. Oh and then there the male to females and the females to male. I know one of each.
    So again what is SGO?
    LOVE,
    Nanci

  2. 07/09/2010 10:40 AM

    Same Gender Oriented, per my friend who gave me the term … “he tells people that he’s not gay, he’s SGO – same gender oriented.”

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