Friday, June 01, 2007

Different Worlds

I was reading a post from a cyberfriend on one of the many predominantly straight lists to which I belong She was telling of her Memorial Day weekend activities with her husband and family, and of picnics, and nieces and weddings and all the other wholesome things that seem to be part of every heterosexual’s life, and I was struck yet again by how totally alien these things are…and have always been…to me.

The sense of belonging to my own family is something I cannot imagine being without. It is the one solid, unchangeable thing in a constantly changing, turbulent world. Yet even with them, I am aware of vast gulfs in our daily lives…differences which go far below what appears on the surface. So much of the lives of heterosexuals revolve around the problems (and joys) of raising children, of weddings, engagements, bridal showers, baby showers, messy divorces, church functions, and the like. All integral parts of the average heterosexual’s life, and all completely foreign to me.

I don't have much trouble, day to day, dealing with straight women. But I tend to be uncomfortable around straight men I do not know well. It probably stems from the fact that while I myself am a man (and have never either doubted it or had the slightest desire to be anything else), we simply cannot relate to or understand each other. Intellectually there may be few differences, but socially.... Straight men's lives social lives understandably revolve around the wife and kids or the girlfriend or fishing or deer hunting or sitting around with their emotional peers watching the Big Game du jour (and even more incomprehensibly, getting jump-up-and-down excited about it). Sorry, but we might as well be from two different planets.

I’ve never understood, for one thing (among many) why it is that straight men seem driven to go to great lengths to prove that they are “real men”? Why in the world should the question ever even have to arise?

Straight men tend to view gays with widely varying degrees and mixtures of suspicion, mistrust, revulsion, and curiosity. I rather suspect that deep down inside there is also an element of grudging envy of some of the “freedoms” gay men supposedly have that they do not. While gays have long been condemned for their “promiscuity” (largely because society won’t allow us the rights of monogamy), I wager that more than a few straight men would love to be as unrestrained in their sex lives as they condemn (usually wrongly) gay men for being.

Straight men may well...and rightly...resent the fact that gay men are as a rule far more free to ignore the chained-to-the-wall constraints our society imposes on men. “Men” do not cry when they are sad or hurt: in fact, the less emotion they display, the more “manly” they are (or consider themselves to be), and if keeping things bottled up inside leads to ulcers or a stress-induced heart attack, well, so be it. Straighten up and face it “like a man.”.

I find it fascinating that while sex is an integral and undeniable part of human existence, it is the object of our sexual attraction which creates nearly insurmountable walls between us. Love, the most positive emotion known to our race, is only considered valid if the two people experiencing it are of different genders.

With a global population of six billion or so, and counting, one might think that the fact that Adam and Steve or Eve and Joanne cannot naturally procreate would be considered in a far more positive light than it is. (“Breeders” is a pejorative gays direct against straights in partial retaliation for the endless string of epithets directed against us.)

The fact of the matter is that our society concentrates far, far too heavily on strict adherence to arbitrary gender roles, and in so doing it prevents our focusing on those things far more basic to humanity: love, loyalty, honesty, kindness, honor, and common decency toward one another.

It is said that the mills of the gods grind exceedingly slowly. Our society is, in fact changing. But I wouldn't put off doing the laundry waiting for the change to be complete.

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