Greetings readers. Thanks for joining me for another edition of It’s Okay to be Gay. Today we’re going to visit the topic of stereotypes and how they can be quite misleading. First off, what is a stereotype? In the Merriam Webster dictionary, this is what it came up with: A standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment
In other words, the way you perceive or assume people to be. Now, define the word gay: A homosexual. Let me also mention the way people used gay before they started judging homosexuals. Keenly alive and exuberant.
So why did I want to look up the definitions? To make sure everyone understood what a stereotype is. Let’s look at some very popular stereotypes. Women are overly emotional, men are tough and aren’t emotional, black people have tempers, overly judgmental, eat certain foods. Hispanics live in small houses, usually overcrowded.
Those are just a few and undoubtedly you’ve heard them in your own circles even if you haven’t used them yourself. How about gay stereotypes? You’ve seen them in movies, TV, and even in books before people started becoming more politically correct. Walks with a switch of the hips, talks in high pitch, are exceptionally neat, act like a female. I’m sure people have seen these and automatically brought up the gay stereotype. The last one especially, people assume someone that might seem overly femme has to be gay. Overly femme? Dresses nice, takes a lot of time with appearance? Then most assume you as a man are gay but the problem with this is, it’s an assumption. Just because you’ve heard the stereotypes, you think he’s gay.
Over the years, the media has had a lot to do with stereotypes. On television, gays were pictured as oversexed, femme, with high pitched voices. Now, I'm definitely not saying that some gay men aren’t like this but stereotypes are a negative way of looking at certain people. Your making the assumption without the facts; the definition says prejudiced attitude. Your attitude about gay men and women causes you to form an opinion and most of the time it’s wrong.
But Sharita, you did just say some gay men do have those traits! Yeah they do but there’s also plenty of gay men who don’t have them. Once again, the problem isn’t the traits itself, it’s how people perceive gay men and women.
Let me give you an example. Over the past few weeks since I’ve been doing this series, Jason Collins and other athletes have made news by coming out. Because I’m a sports fan, I pay attention to a lot of the tv and radio shows. When I heard people’s reactions, meaning male fans and or others who called themselves fellow players, I heard something like this: “Having gay men in the locker room would make things very uncomfortable.”
I have to ask. why do people feel it would be an uncomfortable situation? I’d bet many of these players or fans thought about the gay player would try coming on to them in some form or fashion: the oversexed stereotype. Why would you automatically assume that the gay player would try doing that or they’d look some more when in they’re in the shower together? Again, it’s an assumption. You think just because a player is gay, he can’t possibly just be there to play the game like you are. He’s going to try hooking up with you. Bullshit, so much BS but what I can say. That’s exactly what stereotyping is.
I believe it’s time for people to start accepting people for who they are regardless of their race, nationality, or sexual orientation. Don’t make the assumptions and form your own opinion by what you see. Over the years the media has made great strides in painting gay men and women in a more positive light but like society, they have further to go. Time for more tolerance, understanding, and education. That’s what’s needed.
Next week, I’ll tackle the religious outrage over being gay without getting preachy.
Thanks for listening.