Recently a friend expressed how much it bothers her when gay men go on about "how gross vaginas are." She feels it's a betrayal of the unspoken alliance between gay men and straight ladies.
I thought about how it bothers me too, but for different reasons. It bothers me because this hypothetical grossed-out gay isn't actually grossed out. He's behaving as he is expected to behave in that particular social circle. He squeals and says, "Gurrrrrl," and everyone laughs. Oh, the gays are so funny! They hate vaginas!
After some discussion about where such a reaction stems from, my friend and I came up with a (probably questionable) theory. Many of us gay men were quite mistreated during our formative years, so we learned social tricks to get peers to like us or, at the very least, not slam us into the lockers. If we were sexless and funny, it was less threatening to the bullies. Our gayness wasn't so much about loving penises; it was about being revolted by vaginas.
I realize I may be overthinking this issue, but it led me to reflect on the unfortunate things we gay men do to guard ourselves. As a young man I buried myself deep in fundamentalist Christianity; that was my protective mechanism. A middle-American mega-church welcomed me with open arms, making use of my natural ability to speak in front of large audiences. I became the small-town-church golden boy. No one suspected my secret or knew of the hellish emotional prison it had created.
It hurt. A lot. For many years I sat in this pain, unable to shake it. It influenced how I saw the world and interacted with others. Then time turned the hurt into a teacher. One has the option of simply being a survivor or transcending the wounds and evolving. When you've seen the dark side of humanity, when you've been at the receiving end (ahem) of terrible prejudice, you have the unusual ability to rise above and see things from an angle not apparent to most.
Not long ago I was imbibing at a gay bar here in Nashville. There was this lost-looking guy. No shirt. Cocked baseball cap. Dog tags. Obviously he was a soldier from the nearby base, dipping his toes into a whole new, sparkly world. He was awkward as all get-out, but he was also cute. A few mean queens gathered around him and began throwing shade on his tight little Army ass. It was super-cruel. They were telling him he needed to do some sit ups and, in the meantime, put his shirt back on. I'm certain that if there had been a locker nearby, one of them would have shoved the kid into it. I couldn't stand it. These are what I like to call "unevolved gays." They are victims who never found a way to untether themselves from the past. Their insecurities have become their sense of humor.
I swooped that kid out of that bitchy crowd and began to lay compliments on him that would make you blush. And probably get a semi. I mean, I really laid it on thick. He lit up, gave me a hug, and danced off into the night. Go forth and be well, blossoming homo. Be well.
The intolerant culture of our adolescence is fading; homosexuality is being accepted so quickly that you'd think Western civilization had just lubed up and taken a big whiff of poppers. Even our president has essentially said to us, "Shanté, you stay." Totally amazing.
The world is watching us. Let's take a big step out of our dark pasts and become evolved creatures. Because we have seen the darkness, we have a light, a light that the world needs, and if thinking about vaginas can lead us to that, they certainly aren't gross at all. Vaginas are amazing.