As a gay man, people tend to ask you questions about sexuality. What's that all about I here you say? I know, peculiar isn't it? I had a conversation with my new friend Annie and her husband Mike on Sunday. It always fascinates me what people ask, what they understand and how they perceive the subject. Most of the time, probably due to the company I keep, it's insightful, grounded and thought provoking. Occasionally you find someone who can't see beyond the 'Mr Humphries' stereotype, but they're quite rare to find nowadays under the age of 45.
I am envious of the younger generation (Jesus, I felt old typing that just now) who are able to come out and be surrounded by culture that embraces and celebrates their sexuality. Of course, it doesn't necessarily make it easier for the individual to come to terms with it but it certainly helps. I do wish I had the support network and the confidence when I decided to open my mouth and say those awfully difficult two words "I'm Gay". My friends were fantastic but there was no one else in my situation I knew well enough to confide in and grow up with, asking those pertinent intimate questions that only we'd have the nerve to ask each other and which perhaps I still want to ask now.
There is a set of presumptions many make about gay men. Beyond the obvious that is. One of which is many assume gay men are sexually confident as we are open to what we prefer in the bedroom, that gay men are the most open minded of people after experiencing first-hand prejudice, and that we happy to go against the grain and not be like the rest of straight society.
The wiser of you know those characteristics can be quite ridiculous, gay people are as different as the minutes in the day (actually scrub that analogy as my life is quite monotonous at the moment but you get my meaning). You'd think this goes without saying but time and time again, I am asked the same questions, people assume certain preconceptions and I am forever having to say 'Well I'm different. I'm me" and the debate or discussion commences. It always fascinates me.
Our discussion on Sunday raised a far more important issue, one of Identity and Conformity. Human nature requires labels to categorize and create a sense of order, so society can feel comfortable. If we do not fit a certain box, we try another, then another, until they fit. If one cannot be found, these unique few are considered an outsider or worse still, a freak.
I've "fought against the system" myself. (like Michelle Pfeiffer would do in Dangerous Minds but without the irritating mainstream rap music). I try not to define myself with certain characteristics and beliefs. It gives you freedom and independence but there is a price to pay. You don't fit in. Anywhere it seems. Fine for a natural hermit but for a socially dependent person like myself it doesn't make life easy. I like to play with the preconceptions about me, sometimes live up to them, other times do quite the opposite. I am exactly what you think I am maybe on face value but if you dig deeper, know me a little better, that mould slips away to reveal something quite different for those lucky few I call my close friends.
Or am I in fact yet another stereotype in the making, who knows?