What We Face

Even if we don’t mean to, we commonly stereotype people and groups if we don’t know them well enough. These stereotypes can be very damaging and they continue to be created.

Many+pride+flags+displayed+on+Commercial+Street%2C+in+Provincetown%2C+Massachusetts.+%28Creative+Commons+Image%29

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Many pride flags displayed on Commercial Street, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. (Creative Commons Image)

A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. However, I’m going to narrow this topic down and focus on stereotypes of gay men because I am a gay male and have experience with being stereotyped as such. I have been ‘out’ for a little over five years now, and I have faced multiple stereotypes from people I go to school with, I have met through friends, and off of social media. For the past couple of years, I have dealt with so many stereotypes which have caused me to be closed in. But now, I have come to the realization that what people think about me will only affect them, because if I don’t let them get to me, they lose their power over me and my thinking, and ultimately, I win.

Some stereotypes have still affected me to this day, and even though I try not to let them bother me, they do. I have faced stereotypes ranging from the way I act or look to the way people think I want a relationship and assuming that I want to do certain sexual things. But the majority of the time those things aren’t actually true. Sometimes, these people, especially straight men, commonly follow the stereotype that all gay men want to get with them; a bunch of them like to hit on me as a joke to get me to catch feelings but the majority of the time it ends up hurting me really badly, mentally. To this day people think that promoting stereotypes is funny, but really, it turns into harassment. This hurt me so much that for a period of time I didn’t want to show up to school or do anything anymore.

In reference to treatment by straight men towards me,  they are prone to thinking that I’m trying to hit on them whenever I text them, when in reality I’m really just trying to find a friend and be a kind person because that is how I was raised.  But they tend to jump to conclusions about my intentions. It really hurts when I reach out and try to be friendly and get shut down because I try to give everyone the respect that they deserve and when I don’t receive it back I find it pretty cruel. I know it might seem a little awkward when I try to reach out, but truly it is because I don’t have much in common with them because I don’t know a lot about what they like, but I’m willing to talk and learn about almost anything as long as i’m able to make a new friend or acquaintance.

Women’s stereotypes of gay men are not as hurtful as straight men’s, but they are still harmful. One common assumption that they make is that I want to be besties with all of them. but a lot of them make me feel like shit and feel used in ways related to messing with boys, even though I don’t want to, or by them just changing in front of me as if it’s no big deal. It may not seem like it, but it makes me feel super uncomfortable. It’s hard to speak up and tell them that I don’t appreciate that they do that because I don’t want to make them feel bad for what they are doing. I feel like it isn’t necessarily their fault, because I have never told them that I don’t like what they would do around me.

Stereotypes in general are bad and can cause a lot of harm and pain, but the specific ones surrounding the LGBTQ+ community are especially harmful because we have been taught them for so long. But it is possible to overcome these stereotypes by getting to know individuals first rather than aching them to a certain stereotype that they have no say in if they are true or not like many have in the past.