I’ve come to notice over time that in some ways, being LGBTQ and single carries some additional stigma to it than if you’re a single heterosexual. I don’t mean to say that we don’t all experience loneliness equally, or that women whatever their orientation don’t get a bad rap (“spinster,” “old maid,” etc.), but we still have some very pervasive cultural myths about gay people, and when you’re single, this makes you a suspicious gay person. Allow me to elaborate.
In the 40+ years since the Stonewall Riots, gays and lesbians in America have made leaps and bounds towards equality. The last four years in particular have been very fruitful: We saw “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed, the Obama administration stopped defending the dreaded “Defense of Marriage Act,” and last November at the ballot box we gained 3 more states that have marriage equality (bringing us up to 9 nationwide!) and saw an attempt to ban same-sex marriage shot down. The wheels of change have been put in motion, and we are not going back!
But, amidst all this excitement and progress, it’s easy to forget that we were demonized as deviants and pedophiles not that long ago and, alas, in some parts of the world still are. One need look no further than Uganda, and the continual push there for a “Kill the Gays” bill, to know that we are NOT out of the woods yet. I mean, heck, look at the Civil Rights Movement and Feminism– how many years have they been at it? And black men are still arrested at an astronomical rate in comparison to the number actually committing crimes, and women are still raped with impunity while her rapists feel free to post pictures and video of the assault all over the Internet. It would be fair to say that none of us are out of the woods– unless you happen to be a wealthy, white, straight guy (sorry wealthy, white, straight guy allies– I believe you exist!).
And, of course, I do not believe the fight for queer rights is anywhere near over until we get things done for our trans* brothers and sisters. I mean, if you’re trans* in America, you aren’t even guaranteed the right to employment or shelter. In fact, for many years I’ve been frustrated how hard the queer community has been pushing for marriage equality in particular. Don’t get me wrong– I think marriage equality IS a civil right and both should and will happen eventually… but I can’t help thinking we’re pushing too hard and too early. Too hard, considering how many other basics LGBTQ peoples are denied and, no offense, but marriage equality doesn’t do much to help the single gay guy who got evicted for the horrendous crime of being himself. Too early, because it feels like we’re trying to get rights by coming in the back door (no pun intended). If the general public doesn’t yet accept queer people as being a naturally occurring part of humanity, if we don’t have the right to live, work and serve unmolested, then going for marriage equality seems like jumping the gun, doesn’t it?
There are few things in this world that make me as livid as seeing someone denied the right to see their spouse/partner in the hospital, or having their children taken away because their partner died and their relationship was not recognized under the law in that state, but I can’t help worrying that pushing this hard for marriage equality is going to eventually lead to a hierarchy of gay relationships. Oh yes. There may one day soon become the “good gays”– you know, the ones who get married at “act straight”– and the “bad gays” who are unmarried and by virtue of being unmarried take up the mantel of negative stereotypes against gays, like that we’re inherently promiscuous. Suddenly, being a single queer person isn’t just stigmatized the same ways we stigmatize all single people, but all the negative stereotypes we’ve ever held about gays get dumped on the “bad” single gays.
Take this fabulously dated PSA, circa 1950s, about homosexuals “on the prowl”–Boys Beware!
Now, read some of those YouTube comments and tell me, how dated is this really? Second comment on the page: “Homosexual freely admit to being paedophiles [sic] in “Louis Theroux – A Place for Pedophiles (FULL)” on Youtube, so all you FUCKS who deny the idea can listen to your fellows ADMIT IT FULLY and WITHOUT GUILT….”
I have no doubt that some pedophiles are gay. Just like I have no doubt that some murderers, rapists and thieves are gay, female, of color, etc. Every group has its rotten apples, it’s the nature of humanity, unfortunately. But it’s NOT the other way around. Just because one, or many, young white men take up arms and become mass murderers, I don’t see anyone condemning all young, white men. Granted, this is largely because of the privilege of the patriarchy, but it’s correct in that NOT all young, white men are mass murderers and we can’t just condemn them all because of a few bad apples. Likewise, you can’t condemn all minorities for the actions of a few within the group, but this happens every damn day.
Oh, and regarding pedophiles, what does the evidence say?
“Using phallometric test sensitivities to calculate the proportion of true pedophiles among various groups of sex offenders against children, and taking into consideration previously reported mean numbers of victims per offender group, the ratio of heterosexual to homosexual pedophiles was calculated to be approximately 11:1.” -From The proportions of heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles among sex offenders against children: An exploratory study
So don’t tell me how most pedophiles are gay, regardless how many acts of pedophilia may be “homosexual acts,” many of those men readily identify as heterosexual.
But this is the kind of crap you get to look forward to being gay and single. You will be seen as a predator, a pedophile, as promiscuous and incapable of having a long-term relationship. People will always think you’re trying to recruit them or hit on them. And heaven forbid you enjoy genderbending or drag– that’s a whole new level of perverted! (For the record as a Drag King, I don’t want a penis– I love the pearly, pink detachable one I already have, thanks.) Sure, some kinksters are gay. But the vast majority of the population is straight, and likewise, the vast majority of kinksters are straight. Maybe a higher percentage of queers are kinky, but I think that has a lot more to do with the fact that, at some point, you had to explore your sexuality because you figured out you weren’t straight, and I think this can lead to more open-mindedness about kink, for example.
I digress. But my point is simple: Different strokes for different folks, you can’t paint us all with the same brush because of that one experience you had that one time. $50 says that guy wasn’t even hitting on you, but kudos on being incredibly vain. 99% of gay people have no interested in “turning” straight people, the same way you would likely not be interested in someone of the opposite sex who was in no way attracted to you.
So I dedicate this post to all my single queers out there, who deal with an extra mountain of bullshit just because of who you happen to Love. Kudos to you, and keep on doing what you’re doing; living your life to the fullest despite all the haters. We’ll need your strength for the coming battles.