“Men are so confusing, I wish I was a lesbian. It would be so much easier.”
“Girls love having gay guys around because they’re into fashion and also because they don’t feel threatened.”
If these conversations sound familiar, there’s bad news. You are part of a straight population that just about falls short of being sensitive, while assuming or living under an illusion of being progressive.
According to a survey of over 1,000 people published in The American Sociological Review, 70 per cent of heterosexuals were found to support things like inheritance rights for same-sex couples. However only 55 per cent approved of gay men kissing on the cheek in public. 95 per cent approved of straight couples kissing on the cheek in public. A lot of catching up to do when it comes to getting rid of prejudices, eh?
Shraddha (name changed), a lesbian woman, talks about the most common things straight people think about the gay community that are insensitive, though they don’t realise it.
“The fact that my sexuality is always a topic of conversation like there is nothing else to me gets old. I know they mean to tell me that they are comfortable with my sexuality, but on occasions, I think it has more to do with telling themselves that they are liberal than making me feel welcome. I often end up feeling like the topic of a thesis paper on politics and gender,” she shares.
And Shraddha isn’t alone. We spoke to a few people from the gay and lesbian community in India. We asked them what were the most common prejudiced and insensitive statements that get regularly thrown at them. And what would be the most fitting response to these statements. Here’s a list we compiled anonymously:
Introducing people as, ‘My gay friend...’
Response: We understand your need for reference. Quite frankly, I would rather be the gay friend than the smelly one. But, it would be nice to know that a person is more than whom he/she sleeps with. Friend? Just saying friend isn’t enough?
Sharing instances of when they got drunk and made out with a person of the same sex.
Response: Unless you are suggesting that I haven’t been sober since I was in college, this is not a relevant story to share. A lot of people throw up over friends when they are sloshed, is that a proud story you share too?
People telling you that you don’t look like a lesbian because you don’t have a crew cut and wear overalls.
Response: Sorry, my uniform is in the wash. I had to dress like a regular person today. Damn, does this tie make me look straight?
The phrase, “That’s so gay.”
Response: Hmm… sure. And you don’t stereotype at all. If you think about what this phrase should actually stand for, I think you should look at Stephen Fry, Anderson Cooper, Tim Cook, Martina Navratilova, Jodie Foster. So the next time you use the phrase, I hope you mean it as another way of saying, you are so successful.
Trying to set us up with all of their homosexual friends.
Response: Do I try to set you up with every straight person I know? Honestly, I’m glad you have more than one lesbian or gay friend, but that doesn’t mean I want to date them all.
Assuming that because we’re gay, we’re attracted to everyone of the same sex or that we’re bunny rabbits.
Please refer to previous answer.
Could it be a phase?
Response: I can safely say that coming out of the closet is not a decision people take as frivolously as changing socks. If one has decided to come out to friends and family, which are the most important relationships in their lives, know that it is a one-way street. We don’t plan on going back in. You would have perhaps understood this better if the majority of the world’s population was gay and you’d have to come out and tell your parents that you were straight.
Would you like to add to our list of LGBTQ insensitive comments, phrases and questions? Leave a comment below or share via Facebook.