Thursday, April 19, 2012

How gay is too gay? Zathyn


I confess to using this term and have said - either to myself, a friend, or my husband - that the person is ‘too gay’.  For me, when I’ve said or thought it, it relates to how someone conducts themselves and has nothing to do with what gender they prefer. In fact straight men can be accused of being too gay.  On the other hand, I’ve said a man is straight acting but never said ‘too straight’. 
Probably the harshest critics of gay men are gay men.  This is something I’ve had negative personal experiences with and, as a result, it’s left me a little judgmental toward flamboyant, over the top queens.  I do tend to make a personality assumption on face value, assuming the flamboyance goes hand in hand with clique bitchiness, and saying a person is ‘too gay for my liking’.  Having said that, I give people an equal chance and don’t hold onto a judgment if an individual proves me wrong.  My bigotry is a direct result of being bullied and deemed an outcast by a group I had the misfortune of meeting via a friend.  Why was I an outcast?  Because I wasn’t gay enough to fit in with the queens and not butch enough for them to label me ‘straight acting’.  My androgynous looks, fashion sense, small stature, and quiet speaking voice were in contrast to my behavior.  I was expected to act as effeminately as I looked and, when I didn’t, it left me unclassifiable. 
I’ve never heard it used to describe someone who likes penises too much.  In my experience within the gay community it isn’t possible to like penises too much!  It is possible to not like them enough. I can’t stand the GLBT Mardi Gras because I think it’s too gay.  My husband thinks it’s too gay.  A lesbian friend of mine doesn’t like it either because she thinks it’s too gay.  Again, in that context, the term is also used to describe something that tips the flamboyance scales to overload.  It isn’t always intended to be a derogatory term.  A colour can be too gay.  Shoes, car, food, an outfit, a breed of dog... just about anything can be called too gay. 
Sometimes certain sayings and expressions are considered more offensive by the straight community than they are to the gay community.  I can call a very over the top acquaintance of mine ‘too gay’ and he’d laugh and agree with me.  Like most sayings it’s more a matter of how it’s said and in what context as to whether or not it would be taken as offensive.  To be honest, until this question was posed to me, it never entered my mind that the saying was anything other than an off the cuff remark.  It’s always been used by me, and my husband, to describe flamboyance or something prissy.  I’ve never even considered using it to describe a degree of sexual preference.  Also, certain sayings are used differently in different countries.  For example what may be considered a cuss word in the USA is not considered at all offensive in Australia.  For that reason I can only speak on personal experience. 
Either way, it’s an interesting question and not something I’d thought anything of before.


Check out the original post and Tom's response HERE
Jason's response HERE
Matthew D's response HERE

9 comments:

  1. In principle I agree with all you say, and yet I would not know what it means to be called "too gay" as I don't fit that category. I have been called names and beat up by bullies because of it, so I tend never to use "too gay" or "gay" as a derogatory term. There was a time when I was young textbooks decried the loss of the fine word "gay" which meant "light and carefree" to the horrors of such an unnatural state as homosexuality. So, I'm a little suspicious of labels (especially words used off the cuff) to pigeonhole people. I think your middle of the road androgyny is sort of fantastic, actually, and I think those who lost you lost more than you lost losing them. That said, I don't like the banning of any word in our culture because it leads to rewriting of history and an insanity of superficiality masquerading as liberalism. Let me be too gay or too straight or let me be...actually, just let's let everyone "be." As for the "gay displays" that are "over the top" I would rather have the freedom to err in the direction of vulgarity than to have to conform in the image of some bigot's idol.

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    1. I agree in freedom to express yourself and if a guy wants to be flamboyant, then good luck to him. Hell, I've been known to push the androgyny lines to the point it's left people confused as to what gender I am. It all depends on my mood on a particular day.

      Unfortunately it is human nature to judge and jump to conclusions. To even put a label on someone. I think the difference lies in those of us who can throw that judgement aside to see the person within. I am open to anyone's choices and opinions so long as they do me the same courtesy. In an ideal world there would be no labels and no judgement. Humans are far from ideal. I sure don't conform and never have. Take me, leave me, like me, hate me, too gay, not gay enough... it won't stop me being who I am.

      Thanks for your comment! :^) It's an interesting topic.

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  3. Great posting. We live in societies that label and I seriously doubt we will ever get to a label-free place or even if doing so would matter. I will say that labels that do not grow are detrimental labels. In the history of the United States, I look at the label "negro" that was once correct only to be superseded by "black" and now to African-American. The same progression happened with "Mexican" (jettisoned because not all in the identified group were Mexican), to "Hispanic" and now "Latino" with a redefining term as society grew more understanding. "Gay" has not changed since the Stonewall riots. As I said in my piece and was echoed here, "gay" does not adequately include, but it does exclude most decidedly. I guess I wish for more authentic behavior because a bitchy queen is the antithesis of authentic behavior, but because that is such iconic behavior and because it is so inextricably linked with "gay" it follows that "gay" is a limit. I most decidedly do not like the term "queer" which I find as offensive a moniker as "nigga". The notion that an identified group taking ownership of a pejorative term once used against them somehow deflates the power of the term is nonsense. What the solution is, I could not tell anyone, but I have enjoyed this series for the sheer level of intelligent discourse, so devoid of the petulant Facebook behavior that I feared could flood in given a highly polarizing topic. I thank Jo for the series and Zathyn thank you for your post this morning.
    Matt Darringer

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    1. If anyone called me 'queer' they'd better look out! Labels are always going to exist in one form or another. There are always going to be one group of people who may wear a label with pride while the other group cringe. I know of gay men who adore the term 'queer'. Call me 'queer' and it would result in a dressing down.

      The way I see it, gay is my sexuality and not my personality. I wouldn't march in a gay pride parade anymore than I'd see the point marching in a 'I'm 5'5 pride' parade. At the risk of being stoned by an angry crowd, I also feel no connection to the rainbow flag and wouldn't be seen dead waving it. But hey, that's just me. The reason I feel that way is because those things exclude a large group of people. There are many, many gay/bisexual/lesbian/trans people who aren't comfortable with these things and often are shunned because of it. There simply is not the solidarity underneath the rainbow flag the symbol is supposed to represent.

      This has been an interesting topic. It's brought out some rather intense reactions from people, which is always good for discussion.

      Thank you for your comment!

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    2. Wow thanks for your responses Zathyn. Such an amazing way to look at things. I especially love your statement "I wouldn't march in a gay pride parade anymore than I'd see the point marching in a 'I'm 5'5 pride' parade." Both things are just small parts of what makes you, you! :) Thanks again ~hugs~

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    3. The 5'5" parade comment is as good as BOST if I do say so myself
      Matt Darringer

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  4. I'd be marching in the same 5'5 parade! Well...more like the 5'3, but I'd wear heals ;)

    Great post and nice responses in comments. I see what you're saying about different meanings. My jaw dropped when my Irish friend went outside to smoke a "fag", lol. I'm also reluctant to say "hommi" in Iceland, because it sounds too much like "homo" in English, and that would be a derogatory term...but in Iceland "hommi" is an accepted term by gays and lesbians. I always end up saying "samkynhneigður" (same-sex-oriented). Yes, I am aware that Icelandic looks like a bunch of random characters...

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