Saturday, August 19, 2006

All Dressed Up

So, early on in my counseling, my therapist asked me why I thought it took me so long to realize that I was gay.

"Well," I replied, "I guess that I didn't identify with homosexuals I saw around me."

"And what did the homosexuals look like, that you say you 'saw'?"

"You know, effeminate twinks. I thought being gay was all about being a bitchy, limp-wristed man who wanted to be a woman."

"...'who wanted to be a woman'...?" T. repeated back to me, so I could hear my own words.

"Yeah, you know, drag queens. Drag queens, transvestites, transexuals - they're all the same..." Made perfect sense to me, at the time.

"No, they're not, actually." He took a breath. "You think drag queens want to be women?" He was making sure he understood me.

"Well, of course! Why else would a man take such care and go to such great lengths to dress up and act like a woman if he didn't really wish he was one? They disgust me. I'm a man, and I'm happy being a man, and I don't identify with guys who pretend they are women."

"That's interesting," is all my therapist replied.

"They are gross."

"So," T. pointed out, "you are very homophobic."

"Was" I corrected.

"Are" he countered.

"Look, just because I detest chicks with dicks, doesn't mean I'm afraid of them."

"Really? I'm not so sure. Maybe you're afraid of yourself..."

"What? Please!"

"Maybe you are afraid that everyone thinks of homosexuals in that stereotype. Maybe you hate them because that image does not represent who you are, yet you feel society will lump you in with them when they find out you are gay as well. Maybe you are afraid of what you do not understand."

"Maybe I'm just not into female impersonators..."

"Maybe we're not talking about what you are 'into'. We're talking about you having a strong negative reaction to people you don't know who merely choose to express themselves in ways in which you can not relate.You are very quick to judge others unfairly, and you assume you are being judged unfairly by others."

"Umm... what other people think of me is none of my business?" We came around to this fairly regularly. Here we were again.

"And they couldn't give a shit about what you think of them," he added.

"Great. Maybe I should add that to my sign," I suggested.

"Stick with what you've got, " he instructed. "You've got to crawl before you learn to walk."

Several sessions later...

We're talking about gay bars and how I had visited one that I finally felt comfortable in.

"So, what made this gay bar any different than the others that you dislike?" he asked.

"Well, for one thing, it was filled with big, burly, masculine men," I said.

"They were all masculine? What do you mean by that?"

"They were all in blue jeans, and leather. Many had short cropped hair, big thick moustaches and beards, and tattoos. They looked hot!"

"So, you like that look? You like guys who might have pierced nipples and wear chains, and strut around in chaps?"

"Or baseball caps turned backwards and white wifebeaters so that you can see their hairy armpits!" I was visualizing them in my mind's eye.

"That's interesting," he noted.

I shrugged. "Why is that?"

"It's all drag, Jim. Just different ends of the spectrum. Men dressing up ultra-masculine is no different that men dressing up ultra-feminine. It's still just dressing up. But it's a costume, apparantly, that you feel comfortable being around and to which you can relate. It's all just a 'show'. But, this attire doesn't seem to threaten your sexual identity, it seems. Maybe it soothes your own raging insecurity and self-loathing, I don't know. It doesn't conflict with your preconception of acceptable male behavior. But, sorry, it's still just a costume.

If you ever took the time to talk with, and get to know, some of the drag queens out there, you'd find some self-assured, confident men who can be every bit as masculine as you are underneath the pancake make-up and mascara. They just happen to be comfortable being in touch with their feminine side. And, by the way, they can be amazingly talented entertainers and performers. Likewise, should you continue to meet and get to know some of these leathermen out there, you may be surprised to find some nelly, lisping, stereotypical gays who are dressing that way to either attract a certain type of man, or who just like to project that image."

"Damn!" I said.

And, just like that, T. ruined my Leatherman fantasy. Now, when I walk up to some hot, virile hunk at the bar and I say hello and a purse drops out of his mouth, I think of that exchange between T. and myself.

Aint that a drag?

1 comment:

Melissa said...

"It's all drag, Jim. Just different ends of the spectrum..."

I love this. Very level headed therapist - you got lucky.