Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quote of the Day

Being "straight-acting," for a gay man at least, is directly related to how convincingly he is able to present traditionally masculine mannerisms. The term is so markedly offensive because its very existence insists that there is a particular, instantly identifiable manner of being gay (defined by effeminacy). And what's more, those qualities are seen as patently unattractive, undesirable and wildly dangerous.

Conversely, it then follows that there simultaneously exists a particular, instantly recognizable manner of being straight (defined by "masculinity"). And what's more, those qualities are seen as incredibly attractive, desirable and wholly advantageous – enough so that gay people would try to "act" in that way.

And there is a long history of straights attempting to straight-ify queer people (and of us trying to do it to ourselves). The performance of straightness is something that gay men have struggled with and against for as long as modern gay identities have existed. Because being gay has been so intimately connected with being effeminate, which was – and still is – equated with being submissive, weak and ineffectual. Gay men have been shamed (and attacked and murdered) for any display that does not reverberate with and reflect what our culture has determined is sufficiently masculine.

. . . It's time we stop using "straight-acting" as some kind of dreamy, aspirational bridge-building tactic or lure. There are all kinds of different ways to be gay and straight (and everything in between or outside of that binary). And while we're at it, how about we just stop trying to act like straight people all together and start acting like exactly who we are? And let's get some sissies up on the big screen. And let's get some more trans people in the spotlight. And let's remember that our community is not comprised of only gay white cis men. Let's tell our stories to each other and anyone else who will listen. . . . [And] we'll just keep telling our stories over and over again until we all know them by heart and they're so loud and powerful and yes, of course, awful and painful and tragic in parts, but finally so beautiful and true that when we're finally heard – and we will be heard – they'll know exactly who we are, what we have been through and why it matters.

– Noah Michelson
Excerpted from "'Straight-Acting' and Roland Emmerich's Stonewall"
The Huffington Post
September 24, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Stonewall Might Be the Year’s Most Insulting Film, But Not for the Reasons You Think – Jeremy Kinser (Queerty, September 25, 2015).
Stonewall Uprising's Most Noted Historian Says Film "Is No Credit to the History It Purports to Portray"Queerty (September 25, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
Beyond Limiting Ideas of "Real" Gay Sex
The Trouble with the Male Dancer
Rockin' with Maxwell
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
Unique . . . Yes, You!
Quote of the Day – May 13, 2015
Quote of the Day – July 16, 2010
The Challenge to Become Ourselves
Mary Bednarowski on the Power of Our Stories
Jesus Was a Sissy

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

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