Are people who assure you they are straight acting just subtly fostering homophobia? After all, there’s nothing wrong with being gay acting, writes Alexander Leighton.
Looking back on the concept of straight-acting, I first have to recall an artwork I saw in a gallery when I was about 12. I must have stood there staring at it for a good fifteen minutes before my Mum came over and thought that my curiosity meant that she had to explain what gay was to me. In reality, I knew what gay meant but I didn’t know what straight meant. Once I knew what straight meant, I couldn’t understand why the out gay men who were my idols at the time, would want to act like a straight man – which to my understanding and the understanding of the artist meant that they adhered to straight stereotypes and avoided gay ones so as to appear heterosexual.
So now, six years later I am still faced with the question “Why would out gay men want to act like straight men?” Isn’t the whole concept of straight acting a massive example of internalised homophobia? I mean if you say “I act straight” aren’t you buying into the idea that there is some definitive way in that being a homosexual changes the way that you act? And what does it even mean to act straight? From a cursory look at the website straightacting.com straight acting is advertised as acting in a masculine manner. If one can assume that in a man, straight is synonymous with masculine, then does this mean that gay is synonymous with effeminate? Isn’t this one of the main ideas from which homophobia springs; that all gay men are effeminate and all straight men are masculine?
Yet something I’ve heard so many times from particularly masculine men who have been attracted to me is “One of the things I like about you is that you aren’t super gay, you know, you don’t act like a girl all the time.” I think when I get told that, the guys expect it to come across as some super-meaningful compliment so when I reply “Well, if you don’t want someone gay then you’ve got the wrong person,” they tend to get confused.
It’s at this point that I need to clarify that I’m not writing this article to criticise masculine homosexual men. I’m criticising the homosexual men who think that straight acting makes them somehow socially superior and go out of their way to appear straight to anyone who they don’t want to have gay sex with. If a homosexual man is masculine then that is how he is and I can say that I am a masculine homosexual man (mostly). If he says he is straight acting then that is not how he is, that is an act. Acting means to act, fancy that!
As far as I see it, if you want to act straight and pretend to be straight when you aren’t then why not go all the way and BE STRAIGHT. I certainly won’t miss you. Straight acting is something we’ve all done at one time or another for usually one reason: We don’t want people to know we are gay. So why are there now all these openly homosexual men saying they’re straight acting and more importantly WHY DO PEOPLE WANT STRAIGHT ACTING BOYFRIENDS?
As an example, I was on a date with a guy and he pulled me into a David Jones. I wasn’t really sure what was going on (as I definitely don’t call clothes shopping a date) until he pointed out a man with dyed pink hair with leopard spots shaved into it and started giggling. I had no idea what he was laughing about until he said “He’s so faggy; it’s hilarious.” Needless to say I was angry at him. Here he was, on a date with another man, and he was pointing out and ridiculing a random stranger for having a haircut that might be perceived as stereotypically gay. After listening to him call himself straight-acting for an entire evening and then being openly homophobic, I just left without another word.
Straight acting isn’t being masculine, it’s being homophobic. You are scared of being associated with homosexuals because of the adversity we face but you’re more than happy to take all the liberties our struggles against this adversity have brought you. I came out of the closet at age 14 as a gay-acting gay and I will always be gay-acting because I am gay. Every action I do is gay because I am gay.
So if you do just use the term ‘straight acting’ why not pause and think about the homophobia the term implies and just say ‘masculine’?
And if you’re acting straight purely because you think that it makes you better than all of us faggots, poofs and queers then I think that maybe you should finally step out of the closet and into our world because You can’t act straight and be gay. It’s an oxymoron, moron.