By Jim Costich
Being gay is not just a sexual orientation. It’s a gender. Or rather there are different genders of gay. This surprised a friend of mine who is a tad new to gay culture. He didn’t realize that among gay men gendered pronouns change in mid-sentence such as: “We had the worst time getting her out for her birthday celebration because he was actually chopping wood”. ….no, honey I mean he’s literally splitting wooden logs with an axe, get your mind out of the gutter, all afternoon. “It took 3 champagnes just to get the butch off her.” I did not get beat up on the playground because I was going to grow up to suck screwdrivers, it was because I “threw like a girl.” That didn’t even make sense to me because baby dykes all killed at baseball.
There is a gay sensibility that’s been recorded since the ancient Greeks and it goes way above and beyond sex and romance. I have cute books in my library like, “Growing Up Gay”, “The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde” and “Unnatural Quotations” that sharpened the wit of my youth.
If you’re gay having a rapier wit is mandatory. So, when I say that I am a gay, intersex man I’m telling you a lot more than; “I screw other men, I have odd shaped genitals that are male-ish and if there is a war I’m expected to go get shot”. Furthermore, although my orientation, sex, and gender are each separate they also influence and instruct each other.
You know, in the real rainbow the colors blur between. They aren’t separated by black lines. I’ll bet this is also true of you. Does your experience of living in your body have nothing to do with your sexual feelings? Your sexual and romantic yearnings are felt in your genitals. As an intersex teenage boy, I had a real advantage over other gay boys because my erections didn’t show and they couldn’t betray me. Living in my body meant that I had all the same feelings and all the same responses without the same consequences. Don’t get it?
If you think for one minute that orientation, anatomy, hard-wired sexual impulses, gender identity etc. aren’t all involved in the naked locker room scene this song is performed in then you have problems I can’t possibly address in a little essay. You’re gonna go listen to that song, now aren’t you? Well, hello – get going but come back and finish this!
Go here and listen:
Welcome to the Gay world where being a man is still more than just being a dick. Where your gender isn’t just your genital but also your personality and your orientation and your expression of all kinds of things not to mention love and lived experience with other men. Some of those men are male. Some are almost male, some are a little male and a little something else. Some of them used to be female but now are a whole lot more male than female and all of us are men. Gay men’s gender is frequently as much a she as a he thing and that’s why the pronouns bounce around like a sleepover pillow fight. In fact, it’s exactly like that.
However, while misgendering is something hideously cruel when done to deny a trans person their whole reality, when you hear what sounds like misgendering out of the mouths of gay men it’s more likely that your femininity slip is showing….. No hate, no shame, no loathing but there will be honesty. Brutal as that may be.
Quote of the day:
Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”
– Katherine Hepburn.
2 thoughts on “Gender, Sex and Orientation Over(your)lap”
Thank You for holding up the time honored gay practice of mispronouncing as well as touching on the fact that we have been recognizing a variety of Gendered selves and gender identities in historically gay and lesbian spaces we just tended to think of them as variations on a theme and more about relaxing the Gender binary rather than essentializing it.
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