Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stereotypes: A Purpose

My neighbors are shooting fireworks, my friends are discussing the negatives of getting high, and Lady Gaga is playing on my computer. What does this all mean? Why am I sharing this? Well, mostly because I find all of this funny.

Race, religion, sexuality, and gender all seem to imply to society that there are shared experiences or that there are shared mindsets, traits, or attitudes that should be apparent in all those that hold in common that connection. Reality, though, is that we are not all the same. When I was younger I did not really understand that. I saw the world through a very self-centered lens. It was not that I saw everyone as the same. I just saw the world as them and me. Nothing else. It was this lens that allowed me to start to realize who I was and what I wanted to define me as a person, an individual. That has led me to in turn see the world as individuals of beauty and depth to meet and learn from.

In USGA meetings there were a few discussions on stereotyping. Now, before I go further on this, I always tease my lesbian and fellow gay friends about lesbian and gay stereotypes. You know the ones: cargo shorts, big ol' boots, rough and tough attitudes, and drivin' around in trucks. Gay men shooting glitter out their palms and dressed so flamboyantly that it hurts to look at them. I actually am comfortable with stereotypes.

I take a simple view on stereotypes: they're there for a purpose. Those coming out may face a vast sea of the unknown. The gay culture may seem foreign to them. It may be totally alien. So what should they do? Should they run from it? Hate it? Lose themselves in it? Many gays have hid who they are for a long time. So finally being true to themselves may be difficult. When you hide who you are from everyone around you, including yourself, to see who you actually are can be hard. Why not try on pre-made personalities first? Experiment a little with the ultra-gay, the activist queer, hipster lesbian, or tomboy gal? When you've got a handle on the gay world, then changes can be made. It's an option that I have found to be a good idea for some.

The suggestion might sound strange. Be who you are, I've heard say. But honestly, when you don't know who you are, why not find out? Try being a crazy party animal and discover if you like that or not. Try finding God and discover if that happens or not. Try reading queer political thoughts and decide if you agree or disagree. Try sports, music, and all sorts of things that may or may not interest you. Life should be lived and lived well! Why not find out just who you are?

A friend posted on a group that I'm in on Facebook about what we looked for in a romantic partner. I find most attractive a person that has discovered who they are and is comfortable with that. Whether that person is effeminate or masculine, religious or non-religious, political or artistic, as long as they have come to realize just who they are I find that attractive. It's a beauty that I cannot help but admire in each individual. The beauty of at last shedding the chains that bind us to mindless conformity and seeing just a glimpse of the potential within us is breathtaking.

Finally, a song of just the purest joy:


  1. AMEN, brother!
    The most attractive people are those who know and are comfortable with who they are.

    While I agree that stereotypes are there for a reason, I think that a common mistake some people of the lgbt community make is conforming to stereotypes that don't really fit who they are. But, yes, certainly try new things. If you don't know who you are then experiment.

    I know from experimenting that I don't fit what some people consider stereotypical of lesbians. I don't like to drink alcohol or eat sushi.
    And I do fit some lesbian stereotypes.
    I like to have short hair, but I also like having long hair. I'm outdoorsy and work as a wildland firefighter.

    Do it! experiment. But don't get caught up in acceptance. Be who you are and there will be people to love and accept you no matter what.

  2. I completely agree with the idea of acceptance and the idea of conformity. Honestly, I find it ironic that a group of people that are inherently outside the mainstream still seek to conform to "gender" or "sexuality" norms within the queer community.

    So I completely: find out who you are for yourself. Do it for no one else!