Why have people always thought this?
December 10, 2006 7:28 AM   Subscribe

So, despite no one having told me this through high school, now that I'm in college I've been informed that everyone, everywhere, thinks I'm gay (and high school friends have confirmed this, now that I've asked). Men, women, doesn't matter. I am aware that I have a (very) slight lisp, which I hate because I can't control it (from birth). I am aware that I'm upbeat and tend to talk fast when excited. My body language is probably somewhat submissive, but I don't think it's THAT bad. I'm shy around a lot of women, don't make eye contact a lot, and a lot of guys don't like me because I'm not that into the "guy topics of conversation". Aside from, you know, how EFFING HOT random girl #43 is. (Cause she was!) The point is, I'm disturbingly straight and finding out what everyone really thinks has thrown me for a huge loop--not only am I being perceived as something I'm not, but it's also been (continually) detrimental to my success with women and social acceptance by guys... and I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Anyway, I've had two long-term sexual relationships (with girls, lol) and a bunch of shorter ones, and at 20 I feel that's a decent amount. They've not felt this way about me-- it's just the overwhelming majority. So it's not like I CAN'T get laid, just that it isn't usually something that works out. (I've had girls actually say "Oh my god! I thought you were gay, I'm sorry!" It's depressing as hell.) If I actually was gay, maybe I'd have better luck, but no dice there.

I mean, fuck it. I'm rather short (5' 6"), I'm a Buddhist, I keep my opinions mostly to myself, I tend to smile a lot (which I don't like--it's probably out of nervousness). Do these qualities somehow magically combine and produce a giant Caught Teh Gay arrow over my head? The point is that I'm having horrible self-esteem/body image issues because of this-- I hate that I smile so much, I hate the way I talk even though I can't control it, I hate all these behaviors of mine because people are reading them wrong. Every time something comes up to remind me that yes, this is how people see me, I feel completely betrayed. This is about the only thing in my life that consistently brings up thoughts of suicide. And, considering that my life is so great and that otherwise I'm so happy, I just want to get this at least marginally under control. Before I knew about all this, I just lived my life-- and now I'm a nervous wreck selfesteemwise.

I want to make people aware of the fact that I'm straight, but girls (you know, the so-called "intuitive ones" of our species) tend to not get the hint unless I stare at their cleavage for hours. And even then, not always. Hey, it's not like I don't want to :) but I feel like doing it to their face is just rude (and it is). Also, once girls are at the point where they find out I'm not gay, I'm in the "friends zone"-- meaning that, while it's good that someone else knows, it doesn't help the cause. The more gorgeous the girl, the longer it takes for this to happen.

I don't understand why some guys-- who are certainly not pigs and are certainly artistic, not macho, etc. do not get lumped into this category. I go to a very liberal college where most guys are artsy and effeminate (or slightly so) while the gay men are FLAMBOYANT AS ALL HELL (and really creep me out--I've got no problem with their preference but they act like a dialed-up version of every gay stereotype you've ever heard of) and if I'm reading this right, people are lumping me in with them. AAAAAAH!

So, the question(s): What makes people think a guy is gay? What (body language or speech patterns specifically) might convey this, or convey "straightness"? Does this kind of juvenile thinking somehow go away after college? Should I just move to fucking Europe or something? How can I just act like one of the guys? (that's all I want to be!) Why is it that people are always talking about the gay men who they "couldn't tell at all", yet I'm instantly categorized despite my long-standing infatuation with Tha Pussy? How can I really, seriously be less effeminate? I'm honestly willing to do a lot to get this shit over with. Any ideas?
posted by dmaterialized to Human Relations (68 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm afraid I'm compelled to offer advice rather than an answer - although one can hope that maybe in the long run such advice will help you find the answers you're looking for...

Be yourself. Get to know yourself and like yourself. Don't worry about what other people think (or you THINK they think). Don't get sucked up into the teenage drama of being what you think others expect you should be, or act how they think you should act. Think for yourself.

Don't succumb to the notion of perpetuating stereotypes.

Consider therapy (self or professional) to deal with your self image issues. If you're seriously having suicidal thoughts, go post haste with the professional route.
posted by matty at 7:50 AM on December 10, 2006


listen, you don't have to prove anything to anybody: high school is over. being comfortable with who you are is an enormous enough achievement. and I'm sure your close friends, ex girlfriends and future girlfriends know who you are anyway, too.

please don't start acting like a lame macho/jock impersonator, please don't. you really sound smarter than that.

and keep in mind that this comment comes from a straight man who goes to the opera a lot, cares about grooming, reads women's magazines, is a huge Callas fan and just listened to a Rufus Wainwright mp3.
posted by matteo at 7:54 AM on December 10, 2006


This is a very good (and difficult) question. I had a friend with this problem, and he basically had to be content with the fact that his friends and girlfriends knew the truth. All I can suggest is that when you're out with a girlfriend, you walk with your arm around her waist and otherwise be as physically demonstrative as you and she can stand. As for "What makes people think a guy is gay," I don't think this can be answered. I mean, there are obvious factors ("lisp," style sense, love for musical comedy—which my friend had, unfortunately for him, it didn't help that he would publicly discuss "Annie" and "Evita"), but those only apply in certain cases, and I think when we look at somebody and think "I wonder if that person's gay?" we're responding to subtle cues we can't analyze rationally, any more than we can tell why we think one person's hot and another's not. But you have my sympathy, and I hope you find some solutions that work for you. (I also hope you don't get a bunch of comments saying "How dare you? Do you think there's something wrong with being gay?" Because that would be dumb.)
posted by languagehat at 7:55 AM on December 10, 2006


In the immortal words of Bill Hicks "Today A young man on acid realized that all of matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather." And what you should take from this quote is exactly this: your life is going to be directly affected by what the popular culture of our day would like to paint you as, everyone is subjected to this in varying forms. You know who you are, everything else is nothing short of irrelevant. Maybe you should move to Europe? or at least someplace where the people aren't out of their minds. I suggest Boston.
posted by pwally at 8:02 AM on December 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


The usual sorta clumsy but effective technique for dealing with this is to find a way to mention an ex during conversation, and to use a feminine pronoun when doing so. You shouldn't have to do this all that often, as word does get around.

Also (though I know you know this and I see on preview that languagehat feels I shouldn't mention this), if someone pegs you as gay, you don't need to read this as some sort of horrible insult. Nor does it mean that they're not going to be interested.
posted by washburn at 8:04 AM on December 10, 2006


Be yourself, plus add in a little more physical PDAs to the women that you're close to?

Grow your stubble a little between shaves?

Make strategic references (decent ones, of course) to your ex-girlfriends?

BTW: Why is "move to europe" the answer anyway? Ya think that sexual politics don't exist here?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:17 AM on December 10, 2006


you don't need to read this as some sort of horrible insult

Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. It means, in all likelihood, that they think you 1) dress well 2) are cultured 3) have a good sense of humor 4) take good care of yourself and 5) possibly even "hip." I know, because I get this all the time, too. I never gave a toss, one way or the other, because I knew it wasn't the case and, more importantly, the girl(s) I was dating knew it wasn't the case.

Basically, what matteo said.

As for my stereotyping above, well, they are stereotypes, and I've known plenty of gay friends who didn't fit those descriptions. But they're very definitely stereotypes that straight people have of gay men, so this is how you can choose to take it.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2006


In gay culture, there's a certain (rather large) subset of people who are obsessed with the concept of being "straight-acting." The male variety likes to think that adopting the idealized cultural characteristics of straight men - hyper-masculine, sports-obsessed, deep-voiced, sexually aggressive - will somehow redeem the (apparently) terrible circumstance of their queerdom and provide them the much-longed-for ticket into straight cachet.

Unfortunately, how this usually plays out is that they end up as self-hating, intimacy-phobic basket cases who can't form a bond with anything less rigid than a bank vault. The main driving characteristic of this phenomenon is usually referred to as "internalized homophobia." I should also point out that such attempts to appear so aggressively masculine often backfire externally as well as internally, insofar as many of these "dudes" aren't actually fooling anyone (let alone themselves).

The lesson of this is not that all gay men have to be (as your own definition apparently has it) upbeat, submissive, and otherwise predisposed to feminine characteristics. It means that they don't "have" to be anything except whoever they happen to be, because (a) life's too short and (b) all it does is create more chaos and misery for everyone involved to pretend otherwise.

It might help you to recognize - intellectually at first, if nothing else - that (American) men - whether they be gay, straight, or any subvariance thereof - are all beaten into the same social mold from birth. You don't need me to rattle off the laundry list of idealized traits, because you're already obsessing over them. And as much as I empathize with the almost visceral impulse to want to fit in, I think you'd be doing yourself a far greater disservice by self-consciously adopting these false, exaggerated characteristics. People can smell insecurity from a mile away, and it usually turns you into prey far faster than any natural characteristics you may otherwise exhibit with confidence. This is true romantically as well as socially. Self-assurance and self-love are sexier (and more essential) than any laundry list of "manly" B.S. you'd care to concoct. If it doesn't start there, I'm afraid, you're doomed. And think of the added benefits: (the right) girls will think they've hit a goldmine by landing a straight guy they can trust and be intimate with, and (the right) guys may learn to respect and appreciate your distinctions.

It sounds to me like you're dealing with a lot of immature distractions from other people, which are admittedly maddening and may seem as if they will never end. But, I implore you, don't get into the habit of doing surgery on yourself to correct for other people's standards. There are people outside of Meathead U. who will be far more attracted to the real you than any scarecrow version you'd care to construct. Eventually, you'll look back on it all and wonder why you wasted so much of your time and energy.

(And please don't go around saying things like Tha Pussy, for this will do nothing but mark you as an asshole.)
posted by mykescipark at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2006 [4 favorites]


Something that jumped out at me about your question is that it's pretty much stewing in internalized homophobia. Which is a little ironic, because internalized homophobia -- the self-directed homophobia that builds up in the individual as a result of society's constant low-level belittling shit -- is usually a problem homosexuals have to grapple with. But in your case, it's a reaction to being treated as a homosexual, something which is so awful for you that it makes you feel suicidal.

There is nothing that comes off as more closet-case-y than a person who gives off non-standard gender cues and is negatively obsessed with queers; obsession is obsession and people pick up on that. I've known a few really effeminate straight guys, and the ones who kept going on about how icky queers are and how hot tits are were the cases where it was very challenging to ignore my perception and take their word for it. If you could stop worrying about Teh Gay altogether, since it is in fact totally nonessential to your sexuality, it might go a long way towards making your eccentricities read as just that, and not as signs of latent homosexuality.

BTW, what follows is just some unsolicited advice which doesn't address your question, but there's something a little contradictory about your implying there's an injustice in people taking your measure due to your natural presentation and mannerisms, but being "really creeped out" by flamboyant gay men doing their thing with confidence. Would it be less creepy for you if they'd play along and hate the things in themselves that you've learned to hate in yourself?
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2006 [4 favorites]


Heh, shoulda previewed.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2006


Oh my god. Calm down.

Seriously.

It seems like you were doing just fine before you found out what everyone thinks. But what they think matters no more now than before you found out what they thought, i.e., it matters not at all.

This is who you are. It's going to help a lot to have a sense of humor about it. You may want to work up some zingy one-liners about people always assuming you're gay.

Also, yes, I do think that leaving behind the close quarters of college might do something to put this behind you. But before that even happens, you need to put it behind you yourself.

Your question has a slightly mixed message about how much this affects your life: On the one hand, you've done "decent" in the lady department, on the other hand you're convinced it's sabotaging your chances.

I think the real answer is that it's affecting your life as much as you let it.
posted by veggieboy at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2006


Forgive me, but you sound like you're already beginning to overcompensate a little. All this talk about how HOT!!! girls are and staring at cleavage... you're twenty years old, that's plenty old enough to know that women don't like being objectified. Also, there's nothing wrong with being gay -- it's not an insult (or a "preference" for that matter). Realizing when you do this and making efforts to stop overcompensating will help you a lot.

A lot of women are attracted to gay men, and part of the attraction is that they can, you know, think. And not care about macho social mores that don't apply to them. Trust me, there are tons of women out there who wish the guys from Queer Eye were straight, which makes you a rare gem indeed.

So be yourself and don't apologize for who you are. Confidence is sexy. Anyone worth hanging out with won't care whether you're gay or not anyway.
posted by AV at 8:38 AM on December 10, 2006


I'm the woman people think is a lesbian, so it goes both ways. I asked my therapist (who IS a lesbian) about this, and her response was this, in a nutshell:

People try to read gender identity using gross social cues. If you're a smart, independent woman with short spiky hair, who's walking a three-day breast cancer walk, they interpret you as a lesbian. It's just people being clueless.

My answer:
1) Examine your own prejudices. If you can get to the point where someone thinks you're gay and just laugh it off, you're in a good place. If you can be flattered but uninterested by a gentle come-on from a member of the same sex, you're even in a better place. Then you will see someone else's errors in judgement as just that -- errors in judgement.

2) Consider the source. Many people who are willing to assign you a gender identity this quickly are probably doing so out of their own prejudices. These are usually as ridiculous as "Real men don't eat quiche" (or in my case, "Real women aren't smart and independent"). Their errors in judgement, therefore, are compounded by prejudice.

3) Accept that the women who you will be most compatible with are those who will see you as attractive, male, and straight without resorting to these stupid social cues. My fiance has a slight lisp due to dental problems and loves musicals -- yet I had no trouble seeing that he was male, straight, and attractive. I know this is hard to see at age 20, but trust me.
posted by lleachie at 8:42 AM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Best answer: People's guesses about whether someone's gay or straight aren't that reliable. I'm speaking from experience: gaydar doesn't work with me and some of my gay friends turn out shocked that I am bi.

I move and speak precisely, I'm slim and young-looking for my age (always have been), don't follow or speak about entertainment-sports and have a good knowledge of opera and stage - and to get cruised by guys I must dress for success (read that as obvious flagging). People simply assume I'm straight, everywhere I have ever been, except in France. French gaydar works fine with me.

Therefore there are outliers in the "you can just tell" sweepstakes and you may be one of them.

As for the issue of females not attending you, if they are not noticing your crusing you are being too subtle. I had a similar problem, and finally learned to ratchet up the blatantness until they noticed. That worked well for me.
posted by jet_silver at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2006


Also, it needs to said: If this is driving you to thoughts of suicide, you need to take advantage of the free/cheap counseling that your very liberal college almost certainly offers. Really, why wouldn't you?
posted by veggieboy at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2006


...girls (you know, the so-called "intuitive ones" of our species) tend to not get the hint...

Okay, but consider the kind of hints that girls give to guys. If they want you to know they have a boyfriend, they say "My boyfriend and I saw the funniest movie," or whatever. Same type of thing if they want you to know they're available. Because guys communicate more directly (in general), gals (in general) take their level of directness up a notch when talking to guys, and expect indications of interest in them to be more direct than their own indications might be...

Anyway, you don't have to act like someone you're not in order to try a little bit harder to get your straightness across. You can say things like "I dated a girl like that once" in conversation, and the seed will be planted. And you don't even need to do it more than a couple of times per group of people; the news will find its way around when it needs to.
posted by bingo at 8:53 AM on December 10, 2006


Let me tend to the original question of "How can I really, seriously be less effeminate?"

Dmaterialized writes:

"I am aware that I have a (very) slight lisp, which I hate because I can't control it (from birth)."

No, you can correct your lisp, like any minor speech impediment.

Most often, a lisp is simply the mispronunciation of the "s" and maybe "z" sounds. This is a pretty common problem, and can be fixed through a little work with a speech pathologist.

If you want to ditch the lisp, talk with your insurance, doctor, or family and find a nearby speech pathologist. Over a few sessions, you'll learn to form sounds the correct way instead of the lispy way. Nothing invasive or terrifying, just sitting in a chair learning new ways to operate your mouth. This does take hard work, especially for adults. But you've got nothing to lose.

I'm not a speech pathologist, but my mom is. I've grown up seeing how thrilled people are when they're rid of their speech problems. It's extremely rewarding for everyone involved.

Personally, I think fixing the lisp goes a long way towards appearing more masculine, as you desire. At least for me, a lisp is a huge factor in that "gay or not?" question. And this is something you can easily fix, without compromising your personality or who you are.

Good luck, dmaterialized! Let us know what you decide.
posted by Sfving at 8:56 AM on December 10, 2006


If you've had two long term relationships and a bunch of shorter ones at 20 years of age, it seems like you're doing pretty damn good for yourself. Many of those 'straight' guys you so desperatly want to emulate go months or years between girls.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:56 AM on December 10, 2006


All of those stereotypically gay qualities you've described are positive ones. I think that if people were aware that you were straight, you'd find a lot of women who love those things about you. But don't act all macho to advertise the fact that you're straight. That's not in your nature and you'll seem phony and lacking in confidence if you do that. I've seen t-shirts marketed to lesbians that say "I prefer girls." Maybe you could wear one every so often, in the appropriate environment. I think it would be a funny conversation starter, too.
posted by textilephile at 8:57 AM on December 10, 2006


Move to Brooklyn. It's the world capital of good-looking, soft-spoken, sports-ignoring, delicate-complexioned Yoga-doing men ... and their admiring girlfriends and wives.
posted by MattD at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2006


I met a rather unusual looking guy once and he intoduced himself like this: "Hi. I'm Chas. I have kind of a weird forehead, it makes me look like I'm angry, but I'm really not. Nothing I can do about it. So, what do you do?"
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:02 AM on December 10, 2006 [7 favorites]


a) Speech therapy can help with the lisp. If it's something that's contributed to your self-image issues, fixing it or getting it under control may give you the confidence you've had trouble finding otherwise.

b) The "seeming gay" issue is a red herring for your dating issues. I've met many women who find sensitivity, exuberance and even an interest in ladies fashion to be a relief in contrast to some of the meatheads they have dated. As others have said, what matters is how you feel about yourself -- improve your self-image and you'll find that a lot of the other things will fall into place.

c) I'd suggest a doctor or therapy if outside help is of interest, because what you don't want to do is find the right girl that makes you feel great about yourself and feel liberated and become so dependent on her (because you haven't felt that way before) that you screw it all up. Fix the way you feel about yourself and then find the right relationship -- don't look for a relationship to fix you.

d) Lighten up about the way you discuss gay folks, because there was definitely negativity in your tone. As someone that's mistaken for gay, you acting in any way to the negative side of neutral makes people more likely to question your sexuality and whether you're in denial. In that same way, you saying negative things about gay folks also carries the appearance of being far more nasty because it's not expected.

It's 2006 -- being gay is alright, being bi is alright. If you're a dude that's into girls, all you gotta do is worry about being into girls -- tiptoeing around the sexuality issue or worse broadcasting your straightness does not serve you well socially.

Again, it's 2006. Being gay is alright. Being straight is alright. Being bi is alright. I'd suggest removing any bias you have towards gay folks, to the point where you'd be able to acknowledge your feelings for another man if you ever had them. I'm not saying you're gay and in denial -- but I am saying that it's better to reset your perceptions and remove any assumptions you may have about your own sexuality than to by default "know" you don't like men. You may like both. You may only like women. You, like most men, may assume you only like women, but you will not know that you only like women unless you have an open mind.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:07 AM on December 10, 2006


Yeah the first year or so at many colleges is characterized by an adoration of the jock/frat boy ideal. To this end, I always found hyper-heterosexuality as somewhat more gay than being gay itself. Point being is that everyone is trying to figure out their sexuality and will often seek an almost satirical ideal to be. Do not worry, once that suburban bubble fades (if it ever does for most people), no one really cares. Some of the biggest straight guys I know (the ones who get the best looking girls and are by far the most suave) are the antithesis of the beer and pizza guy. Also girls in college have a weird desire to have a gay friend, so they're probably merely hoping you are gay. Thank Sex and the City for that and pretty much everything else.

So my point being is that you can try to change yourself or you can wait it out until these people actually meet gay people (who often, I know this sound surprising, not act like the Queer Eye guys) and get some life experience. This won't help you right now, but if you're getting laid and are happy with it -- who else's business is it?
posted by geoff. at 9:23 AM on December 10, 2006


If you believe what 80s tv shows have taught us then all you have to do is be yourself and everything will be fine. In reality this is not exactly true. I think you have to decide who you want to be and take steps to become him. If you don't like your lisp see a speech therapist. If people misperceive you because of your mannerisms and you don't like that, change them. If the way you dress makes people think something you don't want them to think, buy different clothes. Remember you are not bravely being yourself if the way you are acting does not convey who you actually are, or who you are trying to be.
posted by frieze at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oy gevalt. Get over yourself.

I'm gay, people have basically always known even before I came out. And I have found few reactions from straight men to be as unbelievably offensive as yours. You have some serious issues to deal with, kiddo. None of them have anything to do with peoples' perceptions of you and your sexuality, and everything to do with your reaction.

Seriously. You're suicidal because people think, OMGWTFBBQ, you love the cock? You're creeped out by people who have the confidence to be who they are, without compromise? Why does any of this matter? Clearly you have zero trouble with girls, as evidenced by multiple relationships at age 20. Sure, some of them think you're gay, fine. I can guarantee a whole lot more of them would think you're a complete asshole if they ever read this post.

You need therapy. You need it now. You also need to understand that stereotypical behaviours mean nothing. Shall I introduce you to my gay construction worker friend who is happiest when downing a Labatt Blue and watching the hockey game? Or the boy that everyone pegs as gay (flamboyant dresser, effeminate, more shoes and hair care products than Imelda Marcos), and sees more pussy than a gynecologist?

The difference between you and them is that they are happy being who they are. They are confident in themselves and trust that everything else will take care of itself.

They also don't carry around some seriously ugly baggage.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:47 AM on December 10, 2006 [3 favorites]


Remember you are not bravely being yourself if the way you are acting does not convey who you actually are, or who you are trying to be.

But who he actually is is a soft-spoken straight man who happens to exhibit some stereotypically gay behaviours. Or are you conflating stereotypical behaviour with internal reality?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:48 AM on December 10, 2006


Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for thought-provoking and insightful comments. I can't really mark everyone as "best answer", but I'm getting a lot out of this!

I do fully understand that a lot of this is all in my head--and I find it amusing that what people think about me is distressing NOW, as opposed to most of my life (including high school) when I never cared. It's like after I turned 19 or so I stopped being an adult and regressed into being the "typical" teenager :) But I'll admit, the stereotypical straight guy in high school was an asshole, whereas straight guys in college are cool, intelligent, interesting people who I want to be accepted by. (And before you start, I don't mean that if I were gay that these guys wouldn't accept me because that's certainly not the case. I just want to be accepted as though I was just one of them, no special attention, qualifier, or thought given.)

That's probably a big part of all this sudden need to fit in--I suddenly realize that the group of people I tended to ignore, and who I never fit in with, are actually really neat.

I can certainly understand the comments about my being harsh on gays; I don't mean to come off that way, but realize I probably do. It's more the extreme examples of their behavior that upsets me--in the same way that any really slutty drunk girl is obnoxious. In general, I don't like sexuality to be very overt.
posted by dmaterialized at 10:07 AM on December 10, 2006


When I was 24 my co-workers swore up and down that I was gay. They asked me over and over if I was gay, and even went so far as to try and hook me up with their gay friends (possibly as an attempt to get me to come out of the closet).

No matter how many times I insisted I was not gay, they would not believe me. Keep in mind these were low-paid grocery store night stockers with little education. Good people but very clueless as to how the world outside conservative, Christian, small-town Northern Michigan works.

But because my behaviors fell outside their norm, they attributed our society's homosexual qualifiers to me and wrongly assumed I was gay.

I've never had homosexual tendencies, don't like men in a sexual way, have more female friends than male friends, love having sex with my wife, don't like sports and don't mind seeing a Broadway show every couple of years.

Perhaps some of my behaviors are the result of my father dying whenI was 12 years old and not having a father figure to look up to in my high school years. It would probably take a psychologist to figure it out but the bottom line is I am comfortable being a straight male with some slight homosexual behaviors. My wife does not mind since I know how to fix things around the house, take out the garbage, carry the heavy bags of groceries up from the car and enjoy going to a broadway show, the opera, the ballet (she is a former ballet dancer) and other things most males in this country avoid like the plague.

A few years ago this kind of male was described as a metrosexual but I don't hear that term used anymore.
posted by camworld at 10:10 AM on December 10, 2006


I can certainly understand the comments about my being harsh on gays; I don't mean to come off that way, but realize I probably do. It's more the extreme examples of their behavior that upsets me--in the same way that any really slutty drunk girl is obnoxious. In general, I don't like sexuality to be very overt.

No, you came off as harsh because people thinking you're gay makes you suicidal. You need to confront and fix your homophobia.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2006


You are who you are, and if you try to act like someone else, you'll have worse problems than people thinking you're gay.

I remember, way back when I was in high school, talking about who was gay -- or seemed gay -- was an all-important topic of conversation. Like you, I'm a straight man who isn't into sports, is soft-spoken, prefers the company of women to the company of men, is openly emotional, etc. So in high school, I was continually called "fag."

It got a bit better in college, but even then there were so many people getting away from home for the first time and coming out that whether someone was gay or not was still a pretty hot topic.

After college, it almost instantly became a non-issue. Maybe I still "seem gay", but if so, no one mentions it, it hasn't caused me trouble with men or women. The whole OH MY GOD HE'S GAAAAAY topic is boring to me and everyone I know.

I'm sure there are conservative communities where gay/straight is still an interesting topic, but given your background and interests, it's unlikely you'll wind up living around people like that.

So -- maybe this is a cop-out, but -- content yourself with the fact that being a teenager sucks, being a 20-something sucks a little less (but it still sucks), and REAL life starts in your 30s. In your 30s, not only are you grown up, but the people around you are grown up, too.

When you're in your 30s, you don't worry that the chick at the party will think you're gay, because you're not meeting chicks at parties. Instead, you're meeting co-workers and friends of friends. You're having long conversations with them, getting to know them, and then asking them out for coffee or dinner.

Most 20-something people go through some version of what you're going through. Maybe people don't think they're gay, but people think they are stupid, geeky, easy, stuck up, crazy, etc. Most of the people I know -- people in their 30s and 40s -- are too busy working, raising kids, and going on vacations to care about that shit.
posted by grumblebee at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2006


Response by poster: ... in answer to dirtynumbangelboy, I just wanted to agree with what someone else had said, in that I'm not "suicidal because someone might think I love the cock"-- I'm (occasionally) suicidal because everywhere I go, the person I want to project is not what people see in me. If I ended up being gay, I'd probably be a lot more comfortable because at least it would match with the image I'm projecting. And yes, I need to get over the discrepancy. I know this.

I don't see how any of this means my exes would think I was an asshole if they read my post. They always knew about this, and it was usually a joking point between us. Why so hostile?
posted by dmaterialized at 10:18 AM on December 10, 2006


I am also in college. If I have trouble reading someone, the next stop is their facebook page to see what they have to say. I think this is very common at most colleges -- my friends all do the same thing -- and if you're not on facebook, you should be, even if only for this reason.

I'm guessing that right now, if you are on facebook, you have all the "Interested in" (men, women) and "Looking for" (friendship, dating, whatever) options selected. A lot of people do this because they figure, well, they may only be interested in one gender for the romance stuff, but they're still interested in being friends with people of both sexes. The trouble with this setup is that people who check out your profile can't tell if you want to date girls, guys, or both.

If those are the options you have selected, uncheck "Interested in men." Guys can still assume you want to make friends, but now everyone who sees your profile will know you like girls.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't see how any of this means my exes would think I was an asshole if they read my post. They always knew about this, and it was usually a joking point between us. Why so hostile?

Why so hostile?

You are creeped out--your words, not mine--by people who choose to live openly. You tried to qualify later by saying you feel similarly about slutty girls--but do they creep you out? No, you find them 'obnoxious'. There is a world of difference there. That is why girls reading this would think you're an asshole.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:27 AM on December 10, 2006


Best answer: I dunno, some of you seem to be reading this as a lot more "anti-homosexual" than I am. No one ever perceives me as gay, but I have a few friends whom this happens to. And apparently it is all kinds of frustrating, interestingly enough, not just for them, but the girls they are dating.

Whether or not you like a subculture, constantly being labeled as something you're not is going to get frustrating. Essentially when dmaterialized gets into conversation, not only does he have to come off as charming and likeable, he ALSO has to make an effort for people not to misinterpret what he is. That's frustrating, it takes conversations away from casual and more to the realm of psychological games.

Dmaterialized you aren't going to accomplish anything by being hyper-straight, those who have said before that you should just embrace yourself are correct. Seriously, if people think you're gay, learn to laugh about it. If you can learn to turn it on your ear, and even to your advantage, you'll be a lot more comfortable with yourself.

And as an aside, all my gay friends have hordes of women wanting to sleep with them, so you could always use that angle.
posted by KirTakat at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2006


Dude, this is a gift. Women love having gay frieds--it is all the rage. Go shopping with hot chicks, stop for a few cosmos on the way home, and boom--you're in like flint.
posted by LarryC at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2006


dirtynumbangelboy, your quickly becoming the person he is having trouble identifying with, calm yourself.
posted by pwally at 10:48 AM on December 10, 2006


Have a few stories. Quick, funny, and easy to reference stories, about your ex-girlfriend(s). Lie if you have to. When you meet a new girl, use your first available opportunity to tell one. As for guys, if they dismiss you out of hand, they're cocksuckers anyway. Pun intended.
posted by Football Bat at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2006


I know a guy that everybody thinks is gay, but he gets a hell of a lot of pussy. Seriously. I don't know what that means.
posted by jayder at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2006


(I've had girls actually say "Oh my god! I thought you were gay, I'm sorry!" It's depressing as hell.) If I actually was gay, maybe I'd have better luck, but no dice there.

I mean, fuck it. I'm rather short (5' 6"), I'm a Buddhist, I keep my opinions mostly to myself, I tend to smile a lot (which I don't like--it's probably out of nervousness). Do these qualities somehow magically combine and produce a giant Caught Teh Gay arrow over my head? The point is that I'm having horrible self-esteem/body image issues because of this-- I hate that I smile so much, I hate the way I talk even though I can't control it, I hate all these behaviors of mine because people are reading them wrong. Every time something comes up to remind me that yes, this is how people see me, I feel completely betrayed. This is about the only thing in my life that consistently brings up thoughts of suicide.


Speech therepist -- check.
Smiling too much, and some other things, you can change.
Other people reacting to you "OMG I thought you were gay" hurts sometimes. Can be frustrating. I empathize. The worst one I got from a lesbian once was, "You should be gay." Erm...

Intriguing thing no one has mentioned, though -- your buddhism should be able to help you with this, no? Being in the now and all that?
posted by Listener at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2006


Ha. I'm pretty much the opposite: I'm gay, but people generally have no idea until someone tells them.

My advice:
1) See a speech therapist and fix your lisp.
2) You didn't mention how you dress, but maybe it would help if you dressed a little straighter? Learn to wear a baseball cap!
3) Don't try to alter your actual personality to seem less upbeat, smile less, be macho, etc: this can only lead to more problems down the road. Try to be comfortable with who you are (a friendly, positive straight guy) while getting rid of some of those trivial outwardly "gay" appearances which you are not. I think your biggest issue is probably the lisp.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 11:02 AM on December 10, 2006


I hate that I smile so much, I hate the way I talk even though I can't control it, I hate all these behaviors of mine because people are reading them wrong...Before I knew about all this, I just lived my life-- and now I'm a nervous wreck selfesteemwise.

Sudden self-hatred seems kind of unusual. Have you thought about talking with a trained counselor? It might help clarify what's going on with a sudden descent into "nervous wreck" who thinks about killing himself. Start asking around for information about setting that up; it doesn't have to last for months. In fact, you may be surprised at how much just talking this through with a trained counselor a couple of times might help you get a handle on it.

the person I want to project is not what people see in me

Sexual preference =/= whole person. Lots of folks are telling you that you're over-reacting; that may be part of it. But seriously, if this is bothering you so much that you want to kill yourself, talking with a sympathetic counselor is pretty much the obvious next step.
posted by mediareport at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2006


Best answer: I am sorry that people are so judgemental. I can see how this could be a problem. 20 year old males (females, people of all ages :) )like to get laid, if everyone thinks you are a different persuasion than you are that could be difficult.

That being said, don't change yourself. Smiling a lot is charming. My family had problems with the lisp, we all had to go to a speech therapist. Record your self reciting something. Focus on the what bugs you. Modify. Repeat recording till you like what you hear. People now make fun of me for speaking so precisely, but it works.

Second thought: A lot of girls love the "gay" seeming guy. Work it. If you want to bring up an ex (which can be dicey) do so, but don't force it. By all means, bring up all other wonderfull things you do and have done. Make a joke of it, after you do something that immediately makes you cringe and go "D'oh, that sounds gay" say that! Say, "Ha! that's the kinda thing that makes everyone I think is gay" Then everyone laughs and you have made your point.

Don't get caught up in all this, the truth is that there are so many points in the spectrum of gender idenity and orientation that no one can pinpoint you. Just be yourself and it will all work out. Be proud that you are who you are and not like any of the other boys out there!
posted by stormygrey at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2006


Best answer: I'm (occasionally) suicidal because everywhere I go, the person I want to project is not what people see in me.

You know, maybe you should accept that you are a victim of homophobia just as much as any gay person is. You're perceived as gay and you believe, probably correctly, that you suffer from it. The root isn't really having your sexuality confused by others -- it's the fact that sexuality has to be a public issue for you at all. You're straight, but you don't have "straight privilege." Your sexuality will always be on the table, whereas people who present themselves as straight will never have to talk about it until they want to. That's the same problem gay people have.

Discrimination on the basis of being perceived as a member of the disfavored group is just as real as discrimination based on being a member of that group. So, your interests are aligned with gay people. But in some ways, you're actually worse off than they are! You suffer society's prejudice because you're perceived as belonging to deviant subgroup, but you don't even get the payoff of belonging to the gay community! You get all the harms but none of the rewards of being gay.

The conclusion: if you can't beat em, join em. You're part of the gay community, even though you aren't actually gay. Meet gay people. Be friends with them. Be friends with the straight people who are friends with them. Fight homophobia, your common enemy. You won't heal until you truly believe that no decent person you would want to be friends with would be homophobic.
posted by footnote at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2006 [5 favorites]


I love straight guys that "seem gay" and are totally cool with the fact. It's someone who is saying, hey, I know that I'm different from most people, and I accept that fact, and I'm not bitter about it, and it's cool and so am I. People who accept themselves for who they are hot.

MattD is right about moving to Brooklyn, but on a smaller level, you could always find some more friends. Going to college is about getting away from high school people. why are you still even talking to them? Get off campus, volunteer, join a church or sports club, do community theatre (where a gay straight man will be the hottest commodity EVER). When you first meet people and are chatting, throw in a reference to a girl you dated, or an ex-girlfriend, or whatever, and they'll know you're straight. Head off assumptions at the pass.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Best answer: No real advice that hasn't already been given besides also recommending the speech therapist. I had a lisp as a kid and was able to get rid of it because of a wonderful speech therapist (I also couldn't say "r"s, its a good thing I was a cute kid.)

If you want to work on your lisp before you can get yourself to a speech therapist, I'll always remember what finally clicked with me was the therapist telling me that my tongue was a puppy, my teeth were a gate, and if the puppy got outside the gate, a snake would eat it. It sounds a lot weirder typing it than it did then, but point being, every time you say an s, make a concious effort to keep your teeth closed, and eventually it should become habit. Obviously, I'm not a speech therapist, and maybe your lisp stems from some other tongue coordination problems, but give it a try!
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2006


This was thought of me when I was your age and younger, but for different reasons (I didn't have a date till I was almost out of my teens even though the girls at school all hung around with me and the boys didn't). I didn't find out till I was in my mid-20s what people thought.

All I can say is that with women you do get involved with, be the best friend and lover you can be. Word will spread. One day someone will say that you're gay to a girl you've been with. When you catch wind of the accusation and the woman's response to your accuser that he's a slouch in bed and that you fuck like a prince, you'll instantly be skilled at not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks.
posted by dobbs at 12:42 PM on December 10, 2006


So -- maybe this is a cop-out, but -- content yourself with the fact that being a teenager sucks, being a 20-something sucks a little less (but it still sucks), and REAL life starts in your 30s. In your 30s, not only are you grown up, but the people around you are grown up, too.

I don't know, I don't think turning 30 is some kind of magic maturity pill. I've dealt with mature 16 year olds and immature 40 year olds.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2006


I've been in this same boat with a few important differences... I'd say violence is your best bet. It is the one language universally revered and respected and it is always sincere and clear. The judicious application of violence is the best way to gain respect and inform others about what is and what isn't acceptable wrt their behavior towards you. The next time you feel that somebody is suggesting that you're gay (this might be a 'friendly joke' about your dress or an insulting imitation of your lisp) tell them you don't appreciate it. If he does it again punch him in his stomach as hard you can. Kick him when he goes down and don't stop hurting him until he apologizes. You really must take all the anger, rage and suicidal feelings and, instead of turning them inwards, release them. Sure, you'll also probably get dinged up but pain comes and goes you will feel very good about yourself and people will get the message loud and clear. You only have to do this two or three times before most everybody will understand that this behavior isn't acceptable and you don't appreciate being called something you're not and will not stand for it.
posted by nixerman at 1:22 PM on December 10, 2006


I'm a straight woman that everyone thinks is a lesbian. *shrug* When people make the assumption, if it matters, I'll just say, "Oh, actually I'm straight." Surprised looks. "Yeah, I know, everyone thinks I'm a lesbian but I'm not." (Also, I kind of live in the gay world, which makes the mistake a lot easier for people to make. I'm definitely an honorary homo.)

My favorite type of straight guy is the gay-seeming straight guy. Yum! But insecurity is unfortunately a huge turn-off, in my opinion. If you go to therapy, consider medication, exercise, etc., you may become more calm/peaceful/content-within-your-skin. And with that the nervous or insecure tics may diminish (e.g. smiling nervously).

On preview: violence?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:24 PM on December 10, 2006


nixerman, i think he wants to be perceived as straight not as a macho shithead/psychopath. I have to presume you are kidding.
posted by Listener at 1:36 PM on December 10, 2006


Girls dig straight gay guys. I can't believe I even have to tell you that.
posted by dame at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


When I read your question, the immediate impression I got of you is that you seem like an intelligent, good natured guy. You need to stop stressing about what others think because it's completely unhealthy.

I say chill, go to the gym, pump some"arn", and allow yourself to be you. Defy the world by continuing to be who you are.
posted by dropkick at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2006


Well I think I qualify as the non-macho slightly artsy type with effeminate qualities yet fully labeled as a "guy" by everyone.

I would say it's small, maybe unconcious, things such as how you wear your pants? Maybe it's tiny differences in movements, or sitting positions?

What I think it really is if I look at guys pictures and spot the gay ones, even if they dress kinda trendy like a guy, there's something a little too perfect about it. Real guys seems to do it but with slight imperfections.. I just say that cause I notice sometimes the way I have my clothes on, I'll look in the mirror, and think "I look gay".. so I move it ever so slightly and it's like.. "cool.. not gay anymore"
posted by 0217174 at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2006


I notice sometimes the way I have my clothes on, I'll look in the mirror, and think "I look gay".. so I move it ever so slightly and it's like.. "cool.. not gay anymore"

That's one of the most ridiculous answers I've ever seen here. I'd love to be a fly on the wall to see what you think doesn't "look gay" anymore after you move it "ever so slightly." And this:

Real guys seems to do it but with slight imperfections.

is the icing on the cake. "Real guys"? Can we be just a bit more thoughtful in our answers, please?
posted by mediareport at 2:45 PM on December 10, 2006


Part of the reason you may be being read as gay is that you are clearly really uncomfortable with yourself and insecure about your own identity. Because most of us who figured out we were queer were uncomfortable with this in high school.

You know what's not hot? Some nice boy getting super-defensive and freaking the fuck out and trying to change his personality because he's afraid that someone might think he's gay. Deep breaths, m'boy. Everyone around you is reassessing their self-image as well. This is what the first year of colleage is for. You've not ruined yourself. If you get laid or not, it can be on your own merits, not any orientation-confusion.

Practically speaking, you're going to have to rehearse your reaction to "oh, I thought you were gay." Your answer is... repeat after me..."nope." No need to defend it further.

Straight people think I'm gay, gay people think I'm straight. I'm bi; this is therefore unsurprising. But I have a whole lot of experience with "Oh, I thought you were..."
posted by desuetude at 2:52 PM on December 10, 2006


college, even.
posted by desuetude at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2006


Best answer: Here are two thoughts:

Take a theater class. You want to become more able to change outward maybe-unconscious behaviors, so you can tailor what signals you're sending... the way to learn to do this is to take a theater class or something like it. (Of course, if you have any drag queens or kings in your area, they would be the best to speak to about stereotypically masculine body language, and what kinds of things you might be able to change without it feeling unnatural.)

Take a martial art or other physical class. This may change your stance, general way of carrying yourself, etc. without you having to be aware of the change.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:18 PM on December 10, 2006


Now, when you say "everyone" thinks you're gay, do you mean everyone? Ninety-year-old men? Bus drivers? Nuns? Ex-marines? Kindergarten teachers? Foreign exchange students?

Because when high schoolers say "everyone," they tend to mean "the kids in my grade who matter." That's a few dozen people of the same age, from the same town, who see each other every day. Under that definition, "everyone knows" a lot of things that are obviously false, silly or pointless to 99% of humanity.

The single best thing about college is the chance to broaden your horizons beyond that claustrophobic definition of "everyone." The people you've met think you're gay and are being assholes about it? Meet some new people, for the love of god. There are plenty of people in this world who don't leap to conclusions, don't stereotype, or just plain don't care who you fuck. Some of them will probably like you.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2006


Best answer: Once again, your root question: "How can I really, seriously be less effeminate?"

What I'm seeing in the posts is a lot of reference to Homosexuality as opposed to effeminate.

there are also many responses to your own sense of self-esteem and self-worth, and that seems to be more closer to the point.

I'd like to offer an alternative idea: Why don't you consider thinking about what makes YOU a man, and what your definitions of manliness are? If you don't think that there's anything about you that makes you a man, (as opposed to a person), then maybe there should be?

I'm not saying go out and learn a sport of do something macho, But rather, examine your life and your activities and see which of them help to define your perceptions of manhood, because a little of your statements resonate with me such that perhaps you are questioning your own manhood...not your sexual preference, but your manhood (which is a natural part of maturing as a male).

I can admit to being a card-carrying metrosexual, with my own effeminate traits and foibles, but I also find that I occasionally do things to help remind me what it is to be a man, or rather to connect with my own inner-self-machismo.

As men we don't have a natural biological ritual that helps to remind us of what we are, so we manufacture these in our culture...

Look...I watch ballgames, smoke cigars, and workout on a heavy bag.... all of which are things that women can do... but by doing these things, it helps to remind myself or re-affirm my sense of manliness to myself, and by reinforcing my belief and confidence in my manliness...I radiate that out to others... which is what I think you are looking for.

If you truly believe in your own manliness...so will others.
posted by djdrue at 3:37 PM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I'm going to go against the grain here. Being "who you are" is a nice, fun thing to think in the Seventies when we all watched Sesame Street. In the real world, it took a lot of painful clobbering (physical and emotional) for me to pick up on the fact that because (unless you're a hermit) your environment is made up of people, how those people perceive you is your environment. That's right - what people think of you matters. It can land you in jail or make you famous, it can win you friends or leave you unemployable. Perception has impact (ask Heisenberg). It's clearly affected your relationships with others.

As to your specific case, yeah, a lot of what you have going on sure correlates to how gay men act in this corner of spacetime. I've had friends who hopped over the fence and it was like they all suddenly went to summer camp at the Oh! My! God! that's thuper Homosexual School of Elocution. Why? Well, I only have guesses: since the hankie code went out, maybe it's just another way for gay men to recognize each other and hit on a more appropriate target without triggering the dreaded Gay Panic in uptight straight guys. No, those behaviors are not 100% correlation, but they're not zero, either. It's a trend. Hell, just look up "Gayface" if you don't believe me.

Start by figuring out some of the things you're unconsciously doing - you can do this by videotaping yourself, intense introspection, audio tapes, or simply asking friends or people who have mistakenly picked you out as gay. "You know that time you thought I was gay? What, uh, made you think that? Be specific." Once you have your list (including the aforementioned lisp, body language, eye contact, etc.), decide how much of a tradeoff you're willing to make between the perception of you (and what you hope will come out of it) and what you consider to be your core values. Make a rational choice about what your risks and rewards will be.

After that, yeah, I second working with a speech pathologist and taking a martial arts class. Don't wear such tight shirts. Nobody's asking you to take up chewing tobacco and get a stack of G'n'R CDs. Deliberate consciousness of self and image shouldn't be a stretch for a Buddhist. Being rejected for any reason is a drag, but fortunately, the reasons you're being rejected are all within your control
posted by adipocere at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


To sum up:
  1. screw 'em (the people that think you're gay): they're twits for needing to pigeonhole you
  2. be yourself. Don't overcompensate. Be metro--whatever. Don't turn into hypermasculineassholeman. It's so gay. [sorry--joking]
  3. If it bothers you, do the speech therapy. If you can live with it, don't. see point #1
No shit, and no joke here: go talk to someone--a professional. The posts above talking about self-esteem and internalized homophobia are dead on. Figure it out. You'll be doing yourself a favor.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:39 PM on December 10, 2006


I don't know if this is helpful at all, but this turns up as a plot point in a lot of pop culture. The first example I can think of is Chandler in Friends: there's an episode* that specifically deals with him finding out that everyone thinks he's gay, and freaking out about what he does to give this impression. Maybe it would be helpful to watch this kind of thing, and see how it plays out in fiction/possible scenarios for letting everyone know it's not true, or something?


*season 1 episode 8.
posted by jacalata at 4:48 PM on December 10, 2006


People often perceive us differently than we want to be perceived. This sucks and happens to everyone to some extent. It doesn't make you a bigot to be upset by it, but you're only options are:

a) change yourself- speech therapy etc.

b) accept it. you already do fine with girls, you said so yourself, so dont worry about it.

c) go talk to a therapist and try to work it out- "internalized homophobia" is an unhelpful buzzword, but if you do have issues that are making you literally feel suicidal, professional help is in order.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:00 PM on December 10, 2006


When I was 20, pretty much everybody thought I was gay or at least bi. This works great with the ladies. Nowadays nobody thinks I'm gay anymore (well, nobody who's met my wife) and there are times I miss passing. Enjoy!
posted by anildash at 6:32 PM on December 10, 2006


Less Copote, more Hoffman.
Just sayin...
posted by artdrectr at 6:34 PM on December 10, 2006


Just what I think is an important caveat (the advice is generally good here) about this "straight acting" notion one hears amongst gays.

Some say it's rooted in self hatred. I say, as a 49 year old gay guy who came out at age 12: That is not the root. Maybe today sometimes it is, but that isn't the origin.

The origin dates to when acting like a flaming (no-drag) queen was fashionable amongst gays (late 60s and before). A time came when lots of us said "Gee, fun it may be, in-your-face for sure, but it isn't attractive"

Nothing sinister at all. The whols 'straight acting' thing started as nothing more dark than the desire to say "I'm not swishy" or "I don't like swishy". For bunches of us, we'd simply grown bored with that whole affectation.
posted by Goofyy at 12:36 AM on December 11, 2006


dmaterialized:

i was you when i was in college. i hated sports. and cars. and though i didn't lisp, i was (and still am) rather short. i liked to keep things tidy. i was way into big-hair new wave music, oversized clothes (and fashion in general), and i had gay friends, didn't-know-what-they-were friends, and lots of women who i lusted after quite ardently, most of whom gave me the 'oh, i thought you were gay,' response to my overtures. and most of whom ended up as "friends." it fucking blew chunks.

i was miserable for a while, lost myself in lots of drink and lots of drugs and strangely enough, found that i was getting laid less and less and much less often, until i learned something life-changing.

and once i learned that lesson, i went on a hot streak that i'll never be able to match. what was my secret lesson? one of my lovers (she was actually a prof of mine as well, but that's whole 'nother story) clued me into this concept:

there is no such thing as 100% gay. or 100% straight. human sexuality is a spectrum. different folks enjoy different things at different times. you should enjoy what you enjoy, as long as you don't hurt others [without their consent].

take the above ideas. drink deeply. rinse. repeat.

sexuality is a spectrum. no one is 100% anything. i've been very good friends with very gay men who have had very outrageous (yet somehow enjoyable) sex with women (and don't get me started on the uber-macho jocks that have very secret fantasies involving other men). just trust me: they're on your campus, too. in fact, they're on ur football team, hiking ur ballz. [that last bit really was intended as a joke.]

realize that you are, like everyone else, a representative point on the spectrum of human sexuality. straighter than some, gayer than some, and right where you should be is exactly where you are.

you'll get through this [this=late adolescence]. but right now, you're in a beautiful place: you're at the last place in your life where you can be a come close to being a truly serious freak with little to no likely after-effect on your life (as long as you use protection where required). so why not take advantage of it?

be a total slimeball one night. be mr. suave one night. be the freakazoid to end all freakazoids one night. go streaking. wear a suit to the least probable place you'd dress up for. try on new 'yous' for as long as you can stand it. fuck people if they don't get it (literally and figuratively, mindful of the absolute boundaries of consent, of course), and fuck people if they do. try to pick up on anyone and no one, and then try going celibate for a month. in short: make the most of your last few days at your college, because it'll be harder to do these 'experiments' once you graduate. and you'll need the lessons these 'experiments' will teach you even more critically after you graduate.

how do i know all this? because, dmaterialized, even though i didn't lisp in college, i was you. and looking back, i wouldn't have changed a thing.

on preview: anildash said it more succintly than i did.

there are very few "truths" about you at 20 that will still be 'true' even five years later. revel in it.
posted by deejay jaydee at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2006


Girls dig straight gay guys. I can't believe I even have to tell you that.

He's bought into this "friend zone" horsepuckey, you're not going to being him around on this.

Take a theater class.

Yes, nothing convinces people you're a straight man more than being involved in theater. Keep your eye out for classes on musicals for special bonus straightness points.

If you really think of yourself as being on the eightfold path then this is an excellent opportunity for you to practice your mindfulness. You're all worked up and unhappy about other people's inaccurate perception - it's not even your own projected expectations that are bugging you! Recognize this problem as one that is 100% perception.

Primarily it's a problem in your own head; it bugs you that they think this inaccurate thing about you. That's their failure, though you can certainly examine your own life and wonder how you can communicate better and help your friends and the people you meet get to know the real you. Doing that by changing or putting on artificial behavior, however, is not productive.

Personally I suspect that a lot of your shyness issues will lessen if you stop carrying this hate about yourself. It's not hard to tell when people are not confident in themselves.
posted by phearlez at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2006


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