Another classic and the last in my series of republished posts.Being an openly gay man working with conservative heterosexual males has interesting consequences, especially if the working environment is traditionally associated with butch, straight hardcore men. My dress sense, hair style, general demeanour and referring to “my husband” is but a few things that makes them fretful. I sometimes feel that if I change anything about my appearance I should try and ease my colleagues into the transition, because any drastic changes would cause their worlds to collapse into a frenzy of confusion and distress. Having a gay man mixed in with a group of straight guys has a tendency to let their neuroses surface, as their masculinity is threatened and they question themselves on their own effeminate traits they discover.
It took months for the men to adjust to this new addition to their group that they found queer, threatening and enigmatic. Months passed and they came to understand that I am not so different from them, apart from the fact that I prefer sleeping with men, have a better fashion sense, pay significantly more for a hair cut and have peculiar grooming habits. They relaxed more around me and even ventured into asking selective questions: "Who’s the man in your relationship?" "Have you ever slept with a woman?" "Doesn’t it hurt having sex?" "Do you guys wear dresses?" "When did you decide that you were gay?" …etc, but the pièce de résistance was “So if you are gay why don’t you sleep with lesbians?”
In a predominantly straight working environment one must also always be on the alert for the closeted homophobes. They are the ignorant ones that discriminate against you behind your back. They are too afraid to air their views or directly confront you. Sometimes I firmly think they believe homosexuality is contagious and can spread like the black plague. The outright homophobes are easier to deal with as one confrontation usually will stifle them. My personal favourite tactic in dealing with all homophobe is to be extra flirtatious, it’s cruel I know. I get a sadistic pleasure from the fear they have of me getting into their pants and their associated mental pictures, this usually is enough to keep them at bay for months at a time.
One morning I received a phone call from a colleague who sounded distressed. I was told he just arrived at work and forgot to put jell in his hair. He knew of nobody else to call without being embarrassed apart from me, and asked if I can bring some to work. That was the first day I realized that my “gayness” was having a positive influence on my co-workers. The change was so subtle that I almost missed it. The rest of that day I had a critical look around me. Most colleagues started using hair products, the colour of their belts matched their shoes and conservative ties were replaced with modern colours and a few even risked wearing pink. I was left wondering, are my colleagues turning into meterosexual men or have they just discovered that the world is not as limiting as they once thought? Have my presence enlighten them to be freer?
Being the only gay man at my office, I do not particularly feel that I have something to prove. I prefer to educate by example, and show through skill and action that gays can do any job as well if not better as straight people. I do fit into some stereotypes straight people have of gays, but I am not ashamed nor am I apologetic of it. I am who and what I am, being gay is apart of me, but it does not define who I am.
Till next time.
"My Turn" by Yehonathan