Embracing my OGTs

Obviously Gay Traits

“Well, here’s to your first OGT – Obviously Gay Trait. Mine are: love of The Carpenters, culinary interests, and intense fear of blood sports.” (Dennis, to Kevin, in Broken Hearts Club).

I recently watched Broken Hearts Club (at the recommendation of oaplascencia). Lots of good stuff in there, but I want to write about one thing in particular today. In one scene Kevin, a younger closeted guy, mentions to Dennis that he likes Karen Carpenter. Dennis replies that it’s Kevin’s first OGT – “Obviously Gay Trait.”

As a life-long closeted gay guy, I’ve spent lots of energy trying to hide or deny any OGTs. Didn’t want to “give myself away,” as it were. This shows where the power of stereotypes resides – the dominant group uses stereotypes to mock and shame minorities, and in a natural response, those minorities try to avoid the stereotypes. But there’s another way to take away their power. Maybe by embracing the stereotypes we can liberate ourselves of their power. I’ve gotten so used to distancing myself from gay stereotypes in order to avoid being labeled gay that it has become second nature. Don’t mention that you like Bette Midler, or they might think you’re gay! Well guess what? I. AM. GAY!

There are numerous examples of minority groups reappropriating derogatory terms to rob them of their power. LGBT groups took on the label queer to destigmatize it. Other examples include geek, nerd, nigger, dyke, fag, bitch, and guido. These are all linguistic examples, but perhaps we can do the same with stereotypes. By embracing them, we liberate ourselves of their power.

The truth is that even though I tried to avoid giving off a “gay vibe,” I suspect I wasn’t always “successful.” I have this nagging suspicion that it must be totally obvious to those around me that I’m gay. So then, what are my OGTs?

My OGTs (Obviously Gay Traits)

  • loving Karen Carpenter, Bette Midler, and Judy Garland
  • crying at sappy movies (think Beaches, Titanic, and Ghost)
  • good at (and totally enjoy) learning languages
  • not a fan of football or baseball
  • I enjoy cooking and baking
  • reading GQ and Men’s Journal (when no one is looking)
  • wearing skinny jeans and tight graphic Ts
  • earrings (two, both in the right ear)

My SSTs (Seemingly Straight Traits)

On the other hand, I’ve also got a few SSTs – Seemingly Straight Traits:

  • I love playing competitive sports
  • I like yard work and home repair
  • relatively low pitched voice (baritone)
  • my index finger is significantly shorter than my ring finger
  • I’m married and have kids
  • I’m a techie and good at math

Even as I write these, I’m aware of how offensive these can be (“But gay people can be good at math! Gay people can play competitive sports!”)… That’s exactly my point! I’m GAY, and I’m also these things. I guess what I’m trying to do is to play off of what I imagine my culture’s stereotypes to be (in particular, that all gay men are like “Jack” on Will and Grace). But we’re not! We are as varied in skill and temperament as any other group.

So then, how about you, readers? What are your OGTs and SSTs? (Straight people can answer too!)

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12 comments

  1. Good post, my blogging friend!

    Here’s my list…
    I’m not a sports guy.
    I love to cook.
    I cry at….almost anything.
    I love to sing…I’m a high tenor.
    I’m not macho.
    I’m not extremely competitive.
    I enjoy hosting company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love hosting company too – I’ve done the whole Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for extended family for the past couple of years. Intimidating at first, trying to replicate favorite dishes my mom used to make, but so fun to have all the family and action in the house!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicely done, Greg!

    👏 Bravo! 👏

    I am simply elated that TBHC plucked a chord in your heart. And yes Timothy Olyphant(astic) is dreamy to say the least. I love him in so many other movies and roles, but one that comes to mind is “GO!” where he plays a drug dealer in a tale told from three points of views. A fun, fast paced flick with yummy Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr as a gay couple.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry got so excited about those delectable men that I forgot to list my OGT’s and SST’s.

    Mine include but are not limited to the fact that I do not hide who I am externally, not that I could if I wanted to.

    – My voice carries with a unique pitch and rings unmistakably of the “gay accent” despite it’s natural baritone quality usually identified with masculinity.

    – My emotional reactions often crawl across my face before I can check them or feign a neutral response. These are often associated with theatrical gay camp.

    – My posture, much alike my voice and facial expressions has undergone much self-scrutiny, but ultimately I’ve surrendered to just letting it be. Attempting a seemingly straight gait or stance has simply magnified my gayness.

    – My abhorrence towards sports is vehement. I dislike watching, let alone partaking in anything sports like. Despite the ogling that could be had in all the tight fitting uniforms, I much prefer the Ballet for crotch-gazing!

    – My love of wine or a cleverly named and garnished cocktail, surpasses any gusto expressed by your typical beer aficionado.

    Oh the list goes on and on…

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  4. Hello Greg. I am sorry I really don’t have a list either way. I have never hid my sexual attraction even in my two tours in the military. That is not because I am so out or so brave or so anything, I just can’t be anything but me. Some people read into my actions and behavior what they wish too. I don’t change. I am lucky ( if one could call it that) that in my child hood I was subjected to abuse that made hiding who or what I was not realistic. I never learned the ability to hide. It is not heroic, I just did not learn to hide. So I never learned “camp”. When I met Ron he owned a gay bar and there was drag queens and camp and I was totally lost. I simply did not understand. I was just who I was. So to hear a list of maybe gay manners and maybe straight manners…..well the he man straight married guys who raped me in childhood love those lists, they get to hide behind them.

    I hope you will find peace in your self for being who you are. There is no one to judge that person, no one to question. You are grand just as you are. I thank you for opening up to us. Must best wishes and most love, Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m coming to your blogs late, after we messaged in GCN. But this one hit a chord with me. I have so many of these things!! They always bugged me, but so much of it was too hard for me to hide.
    – I love Karen Carpenter.. and I have all her albums, I think. Well, didn’t like the later stuff in the 80’s with all the disco beat. But I still consider her my all time favorite female singer.
    – I love Kristen Chenoweth. Not sure yet if she is a gay icon… but probably.
    – I love Michael Buble’. Not sure why he is.. but for some reason a lot of gays love him, I guess and so str8 guys are afraid to and think you are gay if you do. At least my best friend does, who hates ALL my music choices accept Harry Connick Jr. He thinks that the fact that I love Buble’ makes me look gay.
    – I love show tunes, almost anything Broadway.
    – I love the theater and love to act, sing and dance.
    – I hate all sports. Probably because it was the jocks in school who picked on me and called me a fag and a queer and would be very mean and bully me. Why would I want to do something with them? I was small, not coordinated, and nobody took time to teach me or help me learn it. I was getting a D in P.E. until they added tumbling, (gymnastics) and I got an A because I could do all the moves. Bringing my grade up to a B-. So, tho I hate watching sports on TV (Okay, I go to my best friend’s house every year to watch the Super Bowl, but honestly, I’m not really watching or focused at all.) I will watch the Olympics. I like the gymnastics, the figure skating, the track and field and a few other things, but not so much team sports.
    – I love to sing. I have a baritone/bass voice.. and my low voice is probably not an OGT.
    – My talking voice. I think it goes both ways.. I have been told that the way I talk sometimes gives me away.. that they wondered if I might be gay. I’ve also had gay men say that my voice is deep and sexy… and very manly.
    – I used to really focus on clothes and fashion. I was someone who dressed a bit different and always wanted to look nice. I don’t think I dress any different than most guys now. But my wife will sometimes comment that my choices are odd. I like things that are not so conventional.
    – Crying at movies. I will always start the tears when my wife just sits there and has no emotion whatsoever. I can be tough and brave when my parents died, I held it together. But a Hallmark movie might do me in.. or a certain song heard at an appropriate time. In watching The Passion of the Christ.. I started crying and could not stop.. It was all I could do to keep from sobbing out loud. It impacted me so much! At the end my wife said, “I think I even cried a little” I said, “I think there might have been a moment in there when I didn’t cry.”
    – I like chick flicks more than my wife does. She only just recently started watching Downton Abbey with me. And I love the Jane Austen movies a lot more than she does.
    – When I talk and get passionate about something.. I become very expressive.. loud.. not sure what my hands might be doing..
    – I hate manly chores, working on my car, working around the house, doing repair work, handy man stuff. I don’t hunt or fish. I have to force myself to get some things done for my wife.

    All these things used to concern me.. but as I get older.. I don’t worry about it much anymore. But I think that might be why I seem to have fewer friends from the Str8 world. Now that I live in the south, I don’t think men here are drawn to me much.. especially in the church. When I meet gay men in the theater world, they tend to not like me. I can only suspect it is because I am a married, conservative Christian and it does not compute to them. If they suspect me at all, they might wonder why I am so deep in the closet… and so opposite of them.

    The other list is short.

    My marriage. My Christianity. I always hid behind my wife and my faith to hope that people would not think I was gay. How could I be gay? I’m married to a woman and I love Jesus.

    Several years ago, a movie came out with Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck called “In and Out”. I heard about it and could not wait to see them kiss. The kiss was more hilarious than sexy. The movie was funny.. but it just played up the stereotypes to the hilt. Supposedly Kevin Kline was supposed to be gay.. and he had no idea. He fit all the OGTs. But he was dating a woman and they were about to get married. But Selleck kisses him and I guess that convinced him that he was gay.. so he comes out in the middle of his vows. Then everyone started putting together all the OGTs and said . “oh yeah… I guess we should have known.” It made me mad. Probably because I was still hiding and all those things are what I fear people would think of me. But why couldn’t he marry the woman he loved? Why did he have to be gay just because he loved Barbra Streisand??

    Like

    1. “But why couldn’t he marry the woman he loved? Why did he have to be gay just because he loved Barbra Streisand??”

      Well, of course it wasn’t loving Barbra Streisand that made him gay. It was the wanting to have sex with men bit. 🙂

      And of course he *could* marry the woman he loved. But *should* he? Sexual attraction isn’t everything, but it is something. Something pretty fundamental and important, both for him and for her. Choosing a life where that need won’t be met is not something to be done lightly.

      Like

      1. I understand and now agree with you. But that movie made me mad when I first saw it because it never addressed his sexual feelings. He never said he wanted to have sex with men. It was like they wanted to say that a man like that should not marry a woman, and I had already married a woman and was trying to make it work. I did not want Hollywood telling me that my marriage could not work because I had all the stereotypes of being gay. But bottom line.. it doesn’t work. Not really. No sex… no intimacy… it is not an easy life. She is furious that I did that to her. Yet.. I am probably her best friend and she does not want to leave me.. or for anyone to ever find out that I am gay or that we don’t have the perfect little Christian marriage.

        Like

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