Sunday, 7 July 2013

Ten Problems With Being Gay

1. There's the whole "coming out" thing

If you're gay then for every interpersonal relationship you have, you have to store the extra piece of information - "do they know?".  Friends, relatives, people you know at work.  At any given time it's likely that some of them will know you're gay and some won't.  Even if you're completely open about it, and have no issue with people knowing, you still have that rather weird moment when you first drop it into conversation.  You make a reference to your partner by first name, or gender-specific pronoun and then everyone is briefly a bit awkward, and the person you've just told will undoubtedly make some comment just so you know they are perfectly "OK" with it.  Something about gay friends they already have or something, probably.

Even if you do it in a nice subtle way so as to try to avoid making it into a "big thing" then you have that moment of doubt.  "They didn't really react - does that just mean they are super cool with it, or does that mean that they didn't hear me or notice what I said".  And when it comes to awkwardness, if you think someone knows you're gay and work on that assumption - when actually they misheard you and are completely unaware, then there's awkwardness waiting in the wings just ready to jump out on you at any time!

2.  People make so many assumptions

I guess a few years ago, people would've presumed that if you're gay, you like Kylie, probably wear a lot of pink and pay particular attention to what brand your underwear is.  Well, frankly the assumptions may have changed, but the fact that society make them really hasn't.  Even in a world where being gay isn't really an issue anymore, people will presume things about you which have absolutely nothing to do with the gender of the people you are attracted to.

If you are openly gay, you'll find that people presume you must be an atheist, your politics must be left wing, you must know the names of every bar on Old Compton St in order, you must like going to musicals, you probably watch Big Brother, you buy Heat magazine, the list goes on...

Don't believe me?  Try being openly gay for just a couple of days and count the things people will assume about you which have nothing to do with homosexuality.  Won't take you long to get to twenty...

3. Laundry is really complicated

Living with someone of the opposite sex makes it easy to work out whose underwear that is left in the washing machine.  Not so easy when your wardrobes will be functionality rather similar...

4. People become fascinated with personal aspects of your life

Once you tell people you're gay, they will presume to ask questions about aspects of your life they wouldn't dare ask if you hadn't told them you were gay.  Trust me. It's true.

5. Answering the phone is confusing

When you call a straight couple and don't know them well enough to instantly recognise their voices, you can at least tell which is the male and which is the female voice.  Not so easy when both voices are similar pitch...

6. People think they can't joke about it around you

Even the most jokey of people will usually clam up once they know you're gay.  Now maybe I'm just blessed with a particularly permissive sense of humour, but I always find that it's the intent behind a comment I may object to rather than the comment itself.

But tell people that you're gay, and suddenly they won't make any jokes about wearing pink, and they'll treat you as if you're the political correctness police.

I've known several people who've actually decided not to come out at work just because of the effect they know it will have on office banter.  In my experience, though, the ones who are truly the most comfortable around gay people are the ones who still make the slightly off-colour jokes, but do it with a wink and a smile.

7. There's no excuse for train sets and Lego

Yeah, I know gay people can adopt, but the chances are, if you're gay, you're much less likely to have kids, and that means no excuse to fill the house with Lego nor build a huge train set in the loft.

8. Checking into a hotel becomes a whole song and dance

A gay couple turns up at a hotel.  They've booked a double room.  These days, they're pretty unlikely to get turned away, but there will still be that slightly uncomfortable moment when the receptionist tries to ask whether they know that a double bed means they'll have to both sleep in it, and will they be OK with that.

A good tip though - the more you are paying for your hotel room the much less likely you are to be asked this question - five star hotels would never dare to it.  Alternatively, book a hotel room in Sweden - they generally care so little about homosexuality there that you won't even see so much as an eyebrow twitch when you check in together.

9. Formal seating plans are ruined

You know the drill - it's boy-girl-boy-girl at weddings and the such like.  Throw gay couples into the mix and if you know too many male gay couples you find yourself having to bump your lesbian friends from the "maybe" onto the "definite" list just to be able to alternate people around the table...

10. It's just not as much fun as the Daily Mail seem to think

Read the Daily Mail and you'd think being gay is all about parties, drink, clubs and wild excess.  If only..!




Note to those without a sense of humour: I'm not being entirely serious, OK? ;-)