OT: Ika's Cuaron quote

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Tue Jul 20 16:12:55 EDT 2004

On Tue, 20 Jul 2004 18:59:57 +0100 (BST), Ika wrote:

>> (3a) If two men can't live together without being labeled gay, there's
>> something seriously wrong with this world.  This plays into terrible
>> stereotypes about homosexuality--ones you probably know better than I do,
>> Ika.
><g> In this case, I think you know them better than me: I can't see
>anything wrong with assuming that two men who demonstrably love each other
>and live together might be in a sexual relationship, any more than I think
>there's something seriously wrong with a world where people assume I'm
>straight the first time they meet me.

That's because you don't see anything wrong with homosexuality.  For anyone
who is homophobic (a word I hate, but at least we know what I mean by it) or
who believes homosexuality is immoral, believing or assuming that someone is
gay usually also means thinking less of that person in some way.  For a lot
of people I've known over the years, if they know two men not related to one
another are living together, they automatically start making nasty jokes.
I'm not talking just about live-in couples who demonstrate love and could
clearly be lovers; I mean two men living together who *don't* exhibit any
kind of romantic behavior.  And since I don't see much romantic-love
behavior between Black and Lupin, the fact that they're living together
doesn't seem significant to me.

But I also think your two examples are very different.  As I said before,
the proportion of straight/gay people in the world population is skewed
toward heterosexuality, so of course people will assume you're straight;
most of the people they meet are.  But that's an example where the situation
doesn't provide any other way to refine that assumption.  If I go to a gay
bar, for example, I'd expect people to assume I was gay.  Perfectly natural.
If I see a couple of men who are living together and do all those
touchy-feely things that romantic couples do, I'd assume they were gay.
Yes, there isn't anything wrong with assuming incorrectly, but there *is*
something wrong with identifying a non-sexual behavior or action as defining
someone's sexuality, mainly because that can further stigmatize an already
marginalized group.

I hope this is making sense.  Where I live, homosexuality is *very*
marginalized and most references to it are extremely negative, and I'm
embarrassed for the heterosexual community sometimes because it seems to me
that in all the stereotyping that goes on, concepts of sexuality can get
very warped--for both sides.

> It's slightly tiring explaining over
>and over again that no, that's not my mother, it's my girlfriend, but I
>don't think it's playing into a *stereotype* about intergenerational
>relationships, it's just an easy mistake to make.

I have the same problem with my mother, who is frequently identified as my
sister.  And you're right, *that's* not a stereotype; it's, again, the
default assumption based on experience.  Still, I have to wonder if it's my
mother who looks young, or if I look like a fifty-year-old woman....

This has been an interesting conversation, hasn't it?  :)

Melissa Proffitt

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