Last week I had coffee break with a few colleagues. As I'm in pharmaceutical field and my company deals with infectious disease stuff, naturally they talked about sex diseases e.g. HIV and the transmission etc. and later on they talked about the MSM transmission rate.
Suddenly this guy paused a little, looks at me, and says "Guys like Philip must go for testing because he's a gay". He kept laughing after that, and the group all laughed together.
I was like stunned!
I quickly told him to correct his choice of term. And declared among the group that he's wrongly making fun of me.
So, what do you think my life as a gay under the scrutiny of others?
FYI - I did not react that much when he popped out the gay words.
This is a great example of how to behave when confronted with an uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately, I don't think the reader did a very good job, if the purpose was to hide his sexuality.
At the two ends of the sexuality spectrum, namely for the guys who're 100% straight and also for the gay guys who're completely comfortable with their sexuality, neither would complain about the joke. To hide the fact that the reader is gay, I think the best response would be to have made another joke, because that's what a straight guy would have done. The right joke to make depends completely on who is present, and what their personalities are. Since I don't know the guys involved, I've got no idea if any of the following would have been appropriate, but here are a few ideas:
- " ... actually I'm OK because all I do is let guys give me blow jobs, it's Simon over there who needs to worry with all the arse licking he does!" [Simon needs to be the guy who's always trying hardest to please his bosses]
- "… actually I don't need to go for testing because my boyfriend is a lesbian!" [ridiculous statement, i.e. just as preposterous as the idea that I'm gay]
- "… but David needs to be tested all the time because of all those drugged up prostitutes he sleeps with!" [David needs to be the single guy who's a womanizer]
Another important point to understand is that everyone makes fun of everyone else all the time. When you're with friends or colleagues, when they make fun of you it's usually because they've accepted you into their group. I said last month that apparently Dutch people sometimes tell jokes about Flemish people being stupid, and in turn Flemish people sometimes tell jokes about Dutch people being arrogant. Long time readers of this blog will know that I'm a big fan of South Park, and there's the following bit of dialog between the some of the main characters that sums it up perfectly. The character called Token, who's the rich black kid, has been complaining that they're making fun of him, but then Kyle says:
Kyle: We're guys, dude. We find something about all our friends to rip on. We made fun of you for being rich for the same reason we rip on Butters for being wimpy.
Stan: And we rip on Kyle for being a Jew.
Kyle: And Stan for being in love with Wendy. And Cartman for being fat. And Cartman for being stupid. And Cartman for having a whore for a mom. And Cartman for being a sadistic asshole.
Cartman: Hey. You did me already.
So someone who may well be gay is likely to have gay jokes made about him, even if he isn't gay. That could well be a straight guy who can't get a girlfriend, but if he's sure that he's straight then he won't be too bothered because he doesn't need to prove it to anyone and he'll simply join in the joking.
Another consequence of the reader's response is the fact that, given that he is gay, he's simply proved to his colleagues that he's not comfortable with himself and his sexuality. If he had been straight, it would have proved something similar, namely that he's not comfortable with himself because he can't get a girlfriend. This will simply encourage more jokes of the same kind in the future, because the people involved have found a weak point, and unfortunately people often enjoy exploiting other people's weak points.
Finally, it's also clear from the reader's description of what happened that none of his colleagues really care whether he's gay or not. That's certainly true in the banking world with one proviso. No one really cares provided that the gay person himself has no issues with it either. But when someone isn't comfortable with themselves then other people pick up on that, and end up thinking "This person isn't comfortable with himself so there must be something wrong with him, and that makes me feel uncomfortable with them too :-(".
Does anyone else have any further thoughts on maintaining a gay lifestyle under the scrutiny of others?