The one thing I’ve always tried not to be is typical. I enjoy fighting against the norm and preconceived notions of who I am because I am African American and gay. Mostly as a youth I focused on my race and the stereotypes that were associated with being black, determined to show a different side. I would intentionally wear oversized clothes and sag my pants in public. Then I would make sure my speech and my mannerisms showed my poise and intelligence in the hopes I would shatter negative stereotypes. It was a lot of work and I gave up deciding I just wanted to be myself without making a statement and in doing so hopefully I still would. Recently as I’m coming into my own a bit more, I realized I have been doing the same thing as a gay male and now its time to stop.
So many stereotypes of gay men I’m just gonna list a few to keep it moving:
- Not athletic
- Girlish mannerisms
- Loves to shop
- Body obsessed
To not fall into the stereotype, I watched every sport I could think of, tried to keep my hands down when I spoke, either was discreet or just didn’t have sex, and a host of other things to fight against what was thought to be a typical gay male. In the end, just as I did with my race, I found myself tired and unhappy. I was trying so hard not to be what was expected of me based on simple character traits, I missed actually being myself.
I’m a gay black male who loves sports but only follows a few. I move my hands when I speak from time to time. I like sex but at my age I like to have something solid instead of bed hopping. I workout but my health is the main reason not trying to land some stud( I like hairy stocky guys anyway, not bodybuilders). And I have no time to be bitchy.
What I’ve found is stereotypes do have their place. They are quick snapshots of behaviors but limited in their view of a true group of people. We all fall into some stereotypes of our respective community but they don’t have to rule our lives. You have to find what makes you happy and stand tall in who you are.
In Buddhism, we are taught the Middle Way. In my life the middle is amazing.