Earlier today, the subject of gay men dating women came up whilst I was speaking to a (straight) male friend. I went on about how annoyed it made me and how they should just be themselves and be honest, because they were *really* going to destroy someone's world one day. Whilst we were watching telly, I pointed out two men on an advert for a programme on internet dating and said, "Well, of course you're not getting on with the women, lads. They're not your type."
I noticed what I thought was an unusual reluctance to engage in the conversation, so I paused. At which point he piped up, "My dad is gay."
Cue embarrassed silence and what my IM male friend calls 'the truncheon up the a*se smiley'. (That's the one on MSN with the raised eyebrows, wide eyes and straight smile. When IM friend first christened it, I said in mild shock, "I just think of it as the surprised/stunned smiley." IM friend's response: "Well, wouldn't YOU be stunned if someone shoved a truncheon...?" I had to concede the point.) I immediately tried to make things better, erm, inasmuch as you can after a moment like this:
"Look, this is going to sound like what I call the 'black friend' excuse, but I do have gay friends, including the organist at church, and that's not my issue."
"Oh, it's not a problem," he replied. "It's just that I have more insight and I think it's possible not to know or to be confused."
Now I have to admit I've never quite gotten that, but that's because I had a crush on Bob McGrath on "Sesame Street" when I was 2, followed by various male muppets, and Brendan Pelarski in the first grade, Nicky in the second, and Bryan Price for two years after that. I liked Katy McNally, but only b/c I wanted to be as pretty (blonde curls and blue eyes) and self-assured as she was by the time we were in third grade. I *knew* I was heterosexual very young, and I just assumed homosexual (once I discovered it existed) kids were the same. Certainly interviews with KD Lang and others seemed to confirm that. I think I just need to remember that sexuality is most likely a continuum, and that there are as many experiences in discovering it as there are people.
I replied, "I have no problem with that, and I understand being confused about wanting to have a family, or what you really feel. And 30 years ago, it was completely different. I have issues with gay men *now*, when it is so much easier to be honest about who you are, watching a woman walk down the aisle, knowing he's gay and he doesn't - and will never - fancy her, and thinking about his trysts with men in taxis. (And though I didn't add this, gay priests who slag off homosexuality from the pulpits make me even angrier. I'm sitting there thinking, 'Your hip swing is better than mine and you'd look more at home with a Prada handbag than Kate Moss. You know, I know, you know that I know. Just stop. NOW.')"
He recoiled in disgust. "That's just...adulterous. That's beyond horrible."
Having agreed, there was a companionable silence this time. After a few moments, he said wickedly, "That would explain my gay flings then."
Without missing a beat, I said, "Do your men follow type and have long blond hair and use good conditioner?"
He laughed and responded, "And what would you do if I brought one round to yours for tea?"
I pondered. "Bon Jovi? I'd shag him."
He grinned, "You mean you'd talk and laugh with him. That's not what you said, but it is what you meant."
"Erm, yeah. Absolutely."
And for further, though unrelated, breaking news on gender identity, check this out.