I’m straight. I have always been clear on that one, which might explain why gay men have never really bothered me. I know some guys get weirded out by gay men for whatever reason, but I’ve worked with and had many friends who are gay – male and female – and it was never a big deal to me.
Recently, I had a moment when I had to think about how I felt about gay men and their interactions with me and it was interesting.
I was eating lunch and saw someone I knew who is gay and he told me that he thought I was looking good. It was very innocent and he even said, “I’m not hitting on you or anything,” I’m assuming a requisite move by gay men when complimenting straight men.
I laughed and told him that I’ll take compliments anywhere I can get them and, in fact, I considered that a pretty good one since, being a guy myself, I know how picky we are.
After hearing that, I started to wonder just how I did feel about getting a compliment from another guy.
As I said, I’ve always been pretty clear about my own orientation. I’ve always been only attracted to women. In fact, I’ve been accused – especially when I was younger – of being girl crazy because I find all kinds of women attractive.
And I’ve always been comfortable with gays and lesbians because I just treated them like anyone else. I didn’t overemphasize their orientation any more than I would expect them to overemphasize that I’m straight. As a result, I made quite a few friends of both genders who are gay.
But, I honestly had never had a gay man openly give me a comment – as innocent as it was – in a direct way like that knowing that I was aware he was gay.
At first, I was a little uncomfortable, I’ll admit. I mean, I didn’t want a guy hitting on me. Even him saying that it wasn’t his intention to do so didn’t really make me feel any more comfortable.
Then, there was the weird, likely in-born male response, “If I appreciate the compliment, what does that say about me?” Yikes. That thought sucked. I didn’t like it because I don’t want to be homophobic. I especially didn’t want to be some jerk who feins open-mindedness and then acts like an ass when personally involved.
After about 30 seconds of discomfort, I realized something. I realized that it was a nice thing to hear from either gender, straight or gay, and I just took the compliment and moved on. I realized that I am very comfortable with my heterosexuality and I’m a grown man, so why the hell do I care if a guy compliments me?
In a way, it was kinda liberating because it helped me to realize that I am totally comfortable just as I am. And knowing that allowed me to be totally at ease with his words and even thank him for it without discomfort, doubt or awkwardness.
So, that is progress I suppose.
Now, if I could just get myself to believe that his compliment (or anyone else’s for that matter) is true, I’d be getting somewhere. But, that’s a different psychosis for another therapy session.