Mr. Stereotype meets Mr. Ignorance
Sitting with friends at the end of a rather pleasant Sunday brunch, the discussion moved on to the upcoming issue of Citylife focusing on Pink Chiang Mai. Having promised, and failed, to write an article for about five years, I thought “Great! I know nothing about this, so this has to be the topic for me.”
At the risk of having people immediately invoke the “methinks he doth protest too much” clause, I consider myself “normal” (many others would call it “boring”). As a married man in my late forties, with two daughters, universities and marriages to pay for as well as a baffling and never ending requirement for new shoes and handbags to support, I can really not remember a single _ what I would describe as _ “gay” moment in my life; that is despite attending an all-boys school.
We were neatly sandwiched between two girls’ schools that became the main focus of our fumbling adolescent lustful incompetence. I even played rugby and shared the post-game communal bath with 14 other blokes many a time, but don’t remember anyone looking for the soap in an unusual manner.
As I thought more about it, my own ignorance started to astound me. I am guilty of enjoying some of the euphemisms that describe our gay friends (‘batting for the other side’ is my personal printable favourite) and I am sure that they have many that describe people like me too. I am also aware that many brilliant writers, poets, artists and other leading figures are gay but I don’t really know much more than that.
Recently, the British PM made a public apology to the late Alan Turing who was key to the breaking of the Nazi naval codes in World War II. A brilliant mathematician and a key player in developing early computing science, he was prosecuted in 1952 for being a homosexual and institutionalised. This man who played a key role in shortening the war and saved lives on both sides of the conflict committed suicide in 1952 at the age of 41 as a result.
Considering his achievements, the British Government was absolutely correct in issuing the apology. I am pleased that things have moved on since then in many countries although in certain parts of the world, being gay (and more accurately being gay and being caught) can still result in the death penalty. In 2009, that’s just wrong isn’t it?
The more I thought about it, several puzzling things arose in my mind; for example, if I was gay, would being in the changing rooms after a round of golf become a sexually exciting situation? In the true spirit of research, I asked my wife to consider being a lesbian to determine whether the same would apply in the ladies’ changing rooms. When I asked her for the fourth time this morning, she told me that I may be approaching this question from the wrong angle. She was right of course, I was just exploring my own fantasy world; two ladies together? Oh yes! But two men? Eeuwww…What a stereotype I am.
I had my prostate checked a few years back (something that all men late forties and upwards should do on a regular basis whether they are gay or straight); as many will know, it involves having a finger inserted into a place where the sun doesn’t shine. Maybe it was the situation but I could never imagine translating that experience in to a pleasurable one but that is just me. I will just have to accept the fact that I can’t imagine it; my body and mindset are heterosexual and that’s that.
Although I am sure that any gay relationship is fraught with the same issues as any heterosexual relationship, there is a lot of discussion of the ‘Pink Pound’ (ok _ I am British but please insert your own currency after the word ‘Pink’). Gay couples normally do not have children. When you consider that the estimated average cost of bringing up a child to 18 is over one hundred thousand pounds, I can see a definite financial advantage to being in a gay relationship.
I am also told that it is easy to find a partner for the night if that is one’s inclination. OK _ here in Thailand, for a straight guy, technically, that is not an issue either; just go to certain bars, pay the fine and away you go. Prostitutes aside, for gay men, I am told, simply holding eye contact for a certain amount of time with a stranger is an immediate indication of being ready to go; or wearing your mobile phone on one side of your body. Wow…no stress…just a look…I would have dreamt of that many years ago instead of being accused of leering or being a ‘dirty old man’ as I tried to attract a lady for the evening. Hmmmm…another advantage…
And then there is the social life; there always seems to be parties going on. There always seems to be money being raised for charities. There is always something happening. Makes us Mr. Averages feel quite inadequate.
So after thinking about this topic for a while, what is my conclusion? Well _ I am ‘ok’ being straight but as far as I can see, it is also ‘ok’ for people to be what their sexual orientation tells them to be. My own level of ignorance is appalling and I must move past some of my own stereotypes. I am not sure that I will ever get past the two ladies thing but I will consider it some more. I will just watch that rugby match first…