As I’ve talked about being gay with people (talking with people about me being gay, not talking about being gay with them) I’ve realized that, well, a lot of straight people really have no idea what it is like to be gay, especially gay and Mormon. I decided that I wanted one function of this blog was to be a way for straight Mormons to have an insight on what it is like for us gay Mormons. (Of course these are generalizations and don’t apply to every person, but seem to be experienced by enough people to be worthy of note. Or it is what I think. Either way.)
One thing that seems hard for…I think I need to come up with a word for “straight Mormons”, because I am lazy and I can see me getting tired of typing that; I’ll mull that over…anyway, one thing that seems to be hard for straight Mormons to understand is why gay Mormons…I’m on the fence about whether I should use the online slang “moho” in this situation. I guess I’ll mull that over, too….
Let me start over.
Gay Mormons think about being gay a lot…. Like, a lot. We probably think more about being gay and all of its related topics more than we think about anything else (this is a generalization, obviously, but can be especially true when we go through our initial struggles over the issue.). I got to wondering why?
Straight people seem to rarely think about being straight and then I thought…do they ever? I came up with one situation when a straight person might self identify as straight, even if it is unconsciously – they would probably do so if they saw a gay couple. You have Joe Straight walking down the street of Anywhereville and he sees a couple of dudes walking in the opposite direction hand in hand (probably in sandals). Even if he does it subconsciously, Joe probably thinks, “they’re gay” and subsequently “they’re different, I’m straight”. Simple categorization. They pass him as they make their way to Whole Foods and Joe walks along business as usual.
Now, let’s put Billy Gay-Mormon on that street. While he may like the quality of the produce at Whole Foods, Billy is walking into the Super Target because he chose film as a major instead of something lucrative. As he chooses between Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Bunches of Oats (even though he is just going to end up with generic Honey Nut Cheerios), he glances over to see a run of the mill straight couple. The guy (who isn’t that bad looking) grabs a box of Count Chocula (and immediately becomes more unattractive) while his girlfriend picks up a box of Smart Start (who is she kidding?). Like Joe Straight, even if it is unconscious, Billy thinks “straight” and subsequently “they’re different, I’m gay”. Simple categorization.
Now think how more often Billy sees straight people than Joe sees gay people. Even if Joe lives in a small apartment next to a boisterous club in the gay district of his city, he is still more likely to see more straight people than he will see gay people in the course of his day. Thus the issue of sexuality is likely to come up less. But for Billy, the issue of sexuality comes up much more often.
Now to make matters even more complicated, when Billy sees the Whole Food’s couple with their self-righteous canvas shopping bags on the way back to his small apartment, which actually is next to a boisterous club, he makes the simple categorization again. He thinks “gay”, and then subsequently “I’m gay, too”. What? He thinks it with gay and straight couples. Why does that happen?
My guess? Billy was raised to be straight just like everyone else was. Even if he had the most left-wing parents imaginable, Billy was raised around straight people (some of his best friends were even straight). Billy is used to feeling at least a little bit different even around the people he fits in with the most. This throws in more situations for categorization.
So Billy is constantly reminded that he is gay. If he sees an attractive woman: “wow, she’s attractive, but not to me”. Gay. If he sees an attractive guy: “wow he’s cute.” Gay. Heck, even taking a shower. Gay. Don’t even get me started about when he goes to church. Super Mega Gay. In a society that throws sex at us from every angle, on some level, Billy thinks about being gay all the time, even if he rarely talks about it.
So now you can see why being gay is so important to Billy and why a comment of “I don’t see why it is such a big deal,” can be frustrating. This is also why he might be uncomfortable with you going off on how you were weirded out when you saw two guys making out outside of Local Gay Bar on your way back from the singles dance. You may know Billy struggles with “same-sex attraction”, but come on, he isn’t gay, I mean, not gay like that. Right?
I wonder what Billy is thinking about….
Up next: Why It’s Not Always All About Being Gay.