On the television show Glee, there is a gay character by the name of Kurt. Kurt has known all along that he was gay and never tried to hide the fact from anyone. After a year and half of being terrorized by one of the jocks in the school (a self hating, closeted homosexual, in denial) he transferred to another school, a private school with a zero tolerance policy for bullying. He met Blaine who is also gay and they have become friends, though it seems apparent that the relationship is budding into something more.
Each week I watch as Kurt grows and learns from his experiences and gradually becomes a more secure, self-confident person, able to accept himself as he is and surviving the adversity he experiences. The relationship between Kurt and Blaine is very special to me to watch because it mirrors something I very much wish that I had.
On the television show 90210, there is a gay character by the name of Teddy. Teddy is just coming to terms with being gay. He was an All American Athlete, professional tennis player until he injured his knee. Blond hair, blue eyes, and a body that goes on for days (what does that even mean?) Teddy had a reputation as a ladies man, which stood in the way of him having a relationship with, Silver, his girlfriend last season before she finally got over the hype and gave him a chance.
This season has been about Teddy coming to terms with his sexuality and coming out to his friends. It’s a story that is still being told, but aside from what I see as an accelerated time line, has been very believable and satisfying.
While drunk, Teddy hooked up with a guy name Ian at the beginning of the season and then tried to pretend it never happened, denying any confusion about his sexuality, even to Ian. Right before the winter hiatus Teddy admitted to Ian that he was gay and that he wanted to be with Ian but needed time, before telling anybody about it. Of course, Ian agreed, they kissed and one of Teddy’s friends saw them.
A couple of weeks ago, Teddy finally came out publicly, letting all his friends know that he was gay and was with Ian, only to have something come between them and he ended his relationship with Ian. Last week’s episode saw Teddy sulking and having his ex-girlfriend, now friend-friend supporting him by taking him to do something she already knows lifts his spirits; hitting tennis balls off the roof of some building or other. Just as Teddy starts feeling better he hits one last ball off the roof and we hear a male voice cry out in pain. In the next scene, we see Teddy and Silver standing over a guy, dressed in soccer attire, sitting on a bench with an ice pack on his eye. Teddy offers an apology, the guy asks what they were doing and Teddy tells him that Silver was supporting him after a bad break-up. The soccer player tells Teddy that the person must have messed him up pretty badly and before he thinks about it Teddy says, “Yeah. He did.” There’s an awkward silence as Teddy realizes what he just said and as the soccer stud doesn’t react to it, and then Soccer Stud says, “Yeah. Well, I’ve been there,” before writing his phone number on Teddy’s tennis ball and suggesting that maybe Teddy could give him a free tennis lesson “to make up for hitting him.”
In this week’s episode we see Teddy’s friends, Dixon, Navid and Liam talking about going to a girls volleyball game to cover the story for the school news. Just then Teddy walks in and they shut up. There’s an awkward moment when Teddy feels left out and the
idiots guys feel awkward for having talked about girls within the ear shot of the gay guy. Later Teddy see’s Silver in the courtyard and they talk about how he feels like he’s out in the cold with all his friends. Silver scolds the idiots boys who confess that they thought Teddy would be uncomfortable with what they were talking about and that they didn’t mean to be leaving him out. The idiots guys decide to make it up to Teddy and invite him to hang out. Teddy agrees without knowing what they have planned only to realize, too late, that they are taking him to a gay bar. When this is revealed to the audience, my own anxiety level skyrocketed as I imagined being in Teddy’s shoes.
Inside, the bar is full of muscular, shirtless guys dancing and the friends stand dumbfounded, staring at the crowd. Everyone is awkward, the guys don’t know what to think, and then a guy comes over to them and asks if he can buy Liam a drink. Liam storms out and stands on the sidewalk outside, as if that’s going to make him less appealing to the gay guys in the area, and soon he is joined by Teddy. They have a nice little heart to heart in which Liam tells Teddy he’s just not comfortable in that place and Teddy tells Liam he isn’t either.
“This just isn’t my scene,” Teddy says.
“So, what is?” Liam asks.
There is a moment of silence as Teddy looks through the huge window at Dixon and Navid dancing together while the
pedophiles guys in the bar watch. Teddy shakes his head in uncertainty, not disgust, and says, “I don’t really know. But it’s not this.” In that moment I can truly relate to Teddy.
Liam and Teddy leave to get a burger and leave Dixon and Navid inside with their admirers.
Heather, as I have mentioned before, is perhaps the one and only person in the world who has taken the time to know me of her own volition. Deb probably knows me as well as Heather does, but I pay her for that and as much as I’d like to be able to look beyond the business nature of our relationship, I just can’t. Heather knows me because she wants to. She wants to take the time to see and understand me. She wants to know the truth of my existence and not just the flowery, fun, shiny, “happy” side of my life (because she knows it’s not real).
While having dinner on Saturday night, I decided to ask her a loaded question. I didn’t know how far the conversation would go, or just how useful it would prove to be, but I decided it was worth a shot.
“So tell me,” I started, “what’s wrong with me?”
“Well! How much time have you got?” she asked, with a chuckle. “What do you mean, what’s wrong with you? In what context?”
“Socially,” I answered. “Why can’t I meet people?”
I don’t remember the exact dialogue of the conversation but she asked me for more specifics about what I was thinking and it came down to this. Stereotypes exist for a reason. I truly believe that. The stereotype of a modern-day gay man is one of promiscuity, lecherous even, damn near predatory at times. I saw a movie once in which one of the characters talked about how sex, for gay men, is like a handshake. I am not like that. I wasn’t like that before I knew I was gay and I’m not like that now. But I buy into the stereotype… Because stereotypes exist for a reason. And as such, I don’t trust gay men (I mean, I don’t really trust anybody, but for the purposes of this conversation, I don’t trust gay men.)
I know it’s not realistic to compare my life to characters on television or in movies and for the most part I try not to do that, but T.V. and movie scripts are based in some modicum of reality and so when I see things that I like, but which don’t jive with my own experience it’s disheartening, to say the least.
You see it all the time on television. Gay characters meet in the most ordinary of places under the most ordinary of circumstances and they fall in love and have a relationship, like I would like to have. Depending on the show their might be some “cruzing”/ “club scene” hooking up taking place but rarely is that where the lasting relationships come from; kind of like reality. But these guys go about their day-to-day lives and meet each other in the most random and ordinary of circumstances and end up in relationships. Meanwhile, I go about my day-to-day life which includes an overabundance of ordinary circumstances and I never meet anybody who I know is gay first of all, and with whom I have a connection, secondly. I never have a moment of realization in which we both realize the other person is “family”. I never meet a guy, think he’s attractive and have certainty that he’s gay and he knows I am as well and then bond and have anything, whatsoever, evolve from that.
I go to work. I go shopping. I go to school. I go to the gym. I go to Big Brothers and Big Sisters events. I go to random training opportunities a couple of times a year. I may not be a social butterfly, but I’m honestly not a shut in, either and yet, never once have I met someone I thought could be something more and had it turn out to be so.
Heather suggested that I should look into on-line dating. Honestly, that idea is abhorrent to me, for me. But even if it weren’t, stereotypes. Exist. For. A reason. What little exposure I have had to the world of on-line gay dating has proved that those men are looking to live up to the stereotype, and I am not. So I don’t trust it. I don’t trust them. And honestly, I’m afraid of them.
Heather says I lack self-esteem… Well, DUH! If anybody knows where I can buy some of that, please let me know!