In one episode of Friends, Joey and Ross fall asleep while watching some videos (it’s old, bear with me). In the first hilarious scene, Ross wakes up after dozing on Joey’s chest. They’re both awkward. They’re both uncomfortable. And despite neither of them finding the other attractive, they could not deny that it was unmistakably “the best nap ever!”
“It’s weird!”Ross exclaims, but his face tells us it feels so right! And they have to do it again, but they can’t because what will their friends say? They’re not gay, so it’s a total WTF moment! AAH! It’s melodramatic, but OMG it is sooo funny!
Except, it isn’t.
Now some will point out that Friends finished over a decade ago so why am I mentioning it now? Because we still use gay images to ridicule people who aren’t gay.
Since the election, images of Donald Trump kissing Vladimir Putin have been seen on the regular. But the “super liberal” New York Times took it further when they released a video depicting the love story between the two authoritarians:
The video was designed to depict the crazy relationship they seem to have, knowing it would infuriate Don and Vlad, while giving a great laugh to everyone else. No one considered how using queer imagery comes at the expense of actual LGBTQ+ people.
Yes: I’m a delicate little snow angel (I know – but I like this better), or some other thing straight men like to call people who complain about offensive things whilst complaining how it offends them. But I like snow, so quiet down.
Queer people of every rainbow color have grown up in cultures where our sexuality and identity have been the reason for violent outrage, hilarious punchlines, or something pleasurable for the use of straight people.
For your pleasure
Take lesbianism. No, not with real lesbians; I’m talking about the presentation you see on TV, in movies, on the internet. ‘Girl-on-girl action’. Like it’s a sport. It’s so commonplace it’s a wonder the Olympics doesn’t give out medals every four years. Two women kissing, sharing any embrace, or even just talking, regularly involves a straight man because his opinion is all that matters. It’s all for him.
Popular culture has continued the male-led fantasy of two women daring to get it on. Let me just sit in the corner and watch! This inexplicable desire for men to observe women, who literally want nothing to do with them in their bedrooms, is available on every channel, and of course the real world. Women holding hands in the street are greeted with even more crass cat calls; women on dates have men gawping at them like it’s a private show, because these women are there for men. Obviously.
Then there’s porn. We all know that the vast majority of women in ‘lesbian scenes’ are not. They are paid to do a job for the target audience of men. And before you think, “Yeah, but straight women watch gay porn,” let’s address this. Yes, some women do. But gay porn isn’t made for straight women. Our sex lives aren’t created for their viewing pleasure. We aren’t a thing for them to objectify for their own needs. Lesbian porn is.
This isn’t a niche desire, a simple attraction. Men are trained by other men, by decades of media, that this is OK behavior. An entire section of our society has been reduced to a straight man’s lust. The same straight men who probably despise gay men who look their way a little too long.
But it’s harmless, I just enjoy it, I can’t help what I like…
I know I regularly blame straight, white men
But let’s be honest – there’s a reason for it. But to just flip the switch a little:
Little infuriates me more than straight women who seek out gay men because they’re desperate for a gay best friend. My only value for your friendship is “gay”. They want the Sex & the City and Will & Grace lifestyles.
I’ll make sassy, snappy comments as you make bad decisions; we’ll shop until we drop, dressing each other in fabulous clothes, bitching about Gloria and her hideous new haircut, and afterwards we’ll drink cosmos and creep on men together at the bar.
This isn’t a fantasy most of us want, and yet straight women want in. I’ve literally had women message me on Grindr asking to be my GBF. Yes – a lot of gay guys love this stereotype, and that’s great for them. But we don’t do it for you. Our lives are our own, not for you to satisfy a need to live tired Hollywood stereotypes.
Micro-aggressions lead to Macro-hatred
I often get told, in my Snow Queen way (yes, I changed it), that I take this shit too personally. I should calm down because it’s not a big deal.
So answer me this:
If it’s not a big deal, then why is it so important to you? Why is being able to laugh at the mere utterance of gayness, or getting aroused at the slight suggestion of lesbianism more important than how we feel as people reduced to nothing?
In the same way micro-aggressions can still be racist and sexist without being violent, this is homophobia, plain and simple. A joke here, a laugh there. It bruises, and while one might be small, thousands cause damage.
One person hears a joke, leading to a slightly cruder joke, a slightly more aggressive joke, a change in mindset when people challenge it, a broad statement of defiance, a sweeping political ideology, rallies leading to riots, administration changes in election after election, and violence, captivity and slaughter against a group of people who look like vermin to the majority.
In the same way racism was not cured by Barack Obama’s presidency, homophobia was not cured by gay marriage. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people is on the rise; as is the number of states and countries trying to reverse any progress we’ve fought and died for. LGBTQ+ people still strive for acceptance in every culture we inhabit because there is no place outside our own community where we are completely safe. Sometimes it’s a jeer, a laugh. Other times it’s pure, unadulterated disgust.
Two men took a nap together, and they are so outraged they refuse to even discuss it. They are ashamed for taking part in something abnormal. We can argue that it was just a joke, but the reason millions around the world laughed is because two men napping is a cause for shame.
Queer people are not here for your amusement. We are not here for your spank bank. We are not here for you to do anything but accept us as we are, as your neighbors, colleagues, peers, members of your community.
We are people. Our only difference is that we’re actually funnier than you.