we are not like you

I keep hearing gay people, in the midst of the struggle for acceptance saying, “We are just like you!”

That’s a nice thought. And maybe in fifty years all the gay people will be just like all the straight people. But for now, we are not.

Sure, we’ve got crazy gay people, we’ve got smart gay people, we’ve got codependent gay people, productive gay people, and kind gay people. You’ve got your crazy straight people, your smart straight people, your codependent straight people, your productive straight people and your kind straight people. We’ve got truck drivers, ministers, teachers, athletes, musicians, accountants, and salespeople. So do you. We have kids, we are kids, we put our pants on one leg at a time, and so do you. Sure, that’s true.

But that doesn’t mean we are the same as you.

We are not the same as you because close to half of you still think we are, by definition, sick and wrong. When I came out, when I realized I was a lesbian some 30 years ago, it was more like almost all of you thought we were sick and wrong. There’s still probably ten percent of you that think just because I am a lesbian I want to sleep with most every woman I see, or I at least intend to do something to make every child I encounter grow up to be gay. There’s a whole lot of people who think I suck. I won’t even get into all the people who not only think I’m “going to hell,” but have paused long enough to tell me that. And I just want to make sure you understand there’s quite a few straight people around that like to do physical harm to people like me.

This kind of thing changes you. The fact that so many people think we are sick and wrong, think we suck, think we are going to hell, and want to hurt us, makes us different than you. There’s no way around it.

I was talking to a man the other day. His daughter is gay. She’s about my age. She, from the sound of things, has had her struggles with self esteem issues. She’s been with several partners, like many of us, she’s been with people who have taken advantage of her kindness, like many of us, she is looked upon suspiciously by the religious brother with the “perfect” family, like many of us are. I don’t see how any gay people can escape having struggles with self esteem issues. I think taking care of her (perhaps less than deserving) partners is probably the subconscious way this gal attempts to convince herself that she is a worthy, kind and generous person. It’s the way she is trying to prove that she doesn’t suck nearly as bad as all those people think she does. It’s the way she copes with being hated and maligned so frequently.

So the next time you wonder why we can’t act like you, why we are so outspoken, or so flamboyant, or so angry, or so damn different, try to remember that we have been through things all our lives that you haven’t considered. Try to remember that, plain and simple, we are not like you.

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