Friday, October 29, 2010

A Case of a Mistaken Identity

These past few weeks, there have been a lot of videos directed towards the homosexual community. These videos have been encouraging and supportive, which is great. I don't mean to demean them, their message, or anything else at all that might offend people. But I will say that these messages don't have much to say to me, and I do wish that my kind had as vocal a support community as the homsexual community has. See, I'm not a homosexual, but often, people seem to assume I am. What's worse is that no one has appropriately addressed this issue; often, I feel as if I'm not sure how to when someone confronts me about my mistaken 
sexual identity. Apologize for being misleading? Joke about it awkwardly and hope the situation resolves itself? Go along with it and see if I can get a free breakfast out of it? 

If anyone else out there shares my concerns, I've compiled a list of a few iterations of situations where someone has mistakenly assumed I was gay, and how I responded

Situation 1: Straight Guy Assumes I am gay.
This is often the most easily corrected and least damaging. At one point in my wilder and crazier days*, I was at a party where there was a girl I thought was pretty. I talked to her for a bit, and then wandered off for a bit. Soon afterwards, I met a male friend of hers. After the usual small talk, I asked how he knew the pretty girl. Very well, it turned out; in fact, he was her boyfriend. Then he turned the tables on me; "What about you? How do you know her? By the way, you're gay, right?" 
"Oh, I just met her," I replied. "And no! I'm not gay." We fist bumped, then talked about how much we liked football**. 
"Oh, ok. I Just got that vibe for some reason," he said. Then we chatted a little longer; he was a nice guy, and didn't seem like he had any urge to beat me up for talking to his girl.
*Ha! Like I had wild and crazy days. These were the same days where my idea of going out was drinking warm milk in pajamas.
**This is how it happened in my head.

In retrospect, that was one of the best outcomes for the situation. I found out that any more time spent talking to the girl in hopes that she would like me would be a waste of time (more so than usual, that is), and the guy didn't have any grudges against me. "What a friendly, ambiguously straight guy that was," he probably walked away thinking. 

Correct response to situation 1: Correct quickly without making a big deal about it.

Situation 2: Gay Man Assumes I am Gay.
I was in a bar over the summer. I went with two friends who were girls. They were talking about whatever girls talk about when they get together in a swarm (that's the proper term for a group of them), so I decided I would happily sip my beer, maybe scope out the bar for any pretty girls who were there. There weren't any (I told myself) so I just sort of stood around and tried to figure out what color my socks were without looking directly at them, when a guy came up to me and introduced himself as Mike (names have been changed to protect the innocent). "Oh, hi. I'm Brendan," I said, smiling because I had just remembered the answer to what was puzzling me (green). I reached out my right hand, and he contorted his left arm so that he could grab my right hand in his left hand. 
"The normal handshake is just too formal for me," he explained. At this point I noticed his well groomed facial hair - a thin mustache - and the way he looked right into my eyes as if he was trying to see my soul. My response was to go into small talk mode: a terrible mistake. All of a sudden, I knew all sorts of things about Mike, the most immediately concerning of which was that he was a chef, and had just offered to make me breakfast, if I was interested. 
"Ah, a chef! That explains the fork you have wrapped around your wrist like a bracelet!" I continued, stubbornly still in small talk mode. 
This would have continued indefinitely, or until he made me breakfast, had the girls I was with not stopped laughing at my expense, grabbed me by the elbow and said "C'mon, we're going to a different bar." They then gave me a few tips for how I should have acted if I really wanted him to take me home, because apparently, my game with the men-folk could use some work.

So, in situation 2, small talk in general is not the best response. Could I do it over, I think the conversation would have involved me swiftly correcting him. The opportune moment comes right after the question, "So, what do you do?" Should you ever feel as if you're being mistaken as gay by a gay guy who is interested in you, I think the proper response would be something along the lines of "Girls. Beautiful girls by the truckload. Sometimes not so beautiful ones, if I can't find any, but yes. Girls. Lots and lots of girls. Or is that not what you meant? Because I'm also a Straight (c)* student."

Situation 3: A Girl I am Interested In Assumes I am Gay.
This is the most difficult situation to deal with. I don't really feel like picking out an example of this, because there are a few too many than I am comfortable thinking about, and I still haven't found an acceptable response, so whatever advice I can give will be meaningless. I've contemplated wrapping the target of my affections in a passionate embrace, saying something along the lines of "So you thought I was a man's man, huh?" And then kissing her forcefully to fix it, but I normally just go someplace and lick my wounded pride.

But all of these inspirational messages must end with an uplifting note, so here it is.
Situation 4: A Girl I am Not Interested Assumes I am Gay.
This past summer I was walking back from a bar with some friends of friends. One of them invited me to come with them back to where they were staying; they were going to continue the party in their rooms. "Cool," I thought. I was pretty drunk, so they probably could have convinced me to do anything; going to a room to drink another beer seemed like a kind suggestion, all other options considered. So I ended up in a room of a building with a fire escape. As soon as I walked in, I noticed the fire escape. "Oh, look! A fire escape! That looks so inviting," I said, to no one in particular.
"Yeah, you're right. Want to go out on in?" A girl whom I had never seen before added.

"Sure!" The path to the window could have been paved with burning coals, and I probably would have said "sure." I was in a happy place.
Next thing I know, I'm on a roof with a girl I don't know and who I'm not attracted to. Solution? Small talk mode. "Nice night," I began.
"Mhm," she said, leaning in a bit closer. 

I let the patter begin. At this point, even I could see why we were up on the roof, and I wasn't happy about it. I covered every possible topic, from baseball to what the people in the windows we could see into were thinking before her friend came up to see what was going on on the roof. They both started down, then gestured at me. 
"What about him?" The friend who saved me asked.
"Him? He's probably gay," my evening's love interest replied.

I was about to say, "Hey! Wait a second" when I realized that being taken as homosexual was the most convenient excuse for why I didn't want to hook up with an unattractive stranger - much easier than explaining to her that she was an unattractive stranger.
I shut my mouth, figured out how to get down the fire escape, and left the party.

So if you, like me, are taken to be a homosexual when you're not, don't worry. Someday, it may come in handy. And if you're still worried, look at this article about cuttlefish, and learn from it. It's relevant, I swear.

Well, that was a long post. My brain hurts.
And really, let me know if you have found solutions to any of these situations, especially situation 3. Hope all is well!

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