My parents raised me to be a gentleman. “Eric,” my mom would say, “you should always hold the door open for people, it’s polite.” Or my father: “Say please and thank you, it is respectful.” And another point they seemed to consistently stress — “be courteous toward women, especially the ones you end up dating.”
Of course, that was before either of us knew I would be dating other guys. And when I went on my first date with this boy named Brian, I didn’t know what kind of gentleman to be. Who should pay? Who should hold the door open? Who should be the one chasing and the one being chased?
Heterosexual people have romantic comedies and boy bands and the like to clue them in on what to do in the dating world, how to act and what to say. Homosexual people have the supporting characters on just about every HBO and Showtime series. And while there are LGBTQ shows and singers and movies, few of them, if any, are mainstream. Justin Bieber doesn’t sing about one less lonely guy. Katy Perry was only curious (and drunk) when she kissed another girl.
So what do you do when two men or two women go on a date? In that situation, social norms and societal rules don’t apply as much. Expectations aren’t crystal clear and everything is kind of up in the air. And that can be both good and bad when the lines between the chased and the chaser start to blur.
Brian was the one who asked me out. But he didn’t have a car, so I would be the one driving us to the pool, the mall or wherever else we wanted to go. Translate the situation into a heterosexual context. The female would either be the one asking the male out or the one picking him up. Both scenarios seem off.
And that is the catch, they shouldn’t. LGBTQ people cannot hold themselves to the same standards and customs as straight people. That may sound like common sense, but it took me a damn long time to realize. When I went on the date with Brian, the typical heterosexual gender roles were still in my head when they shouldn’t have been. We were two males on a date and there were no two ways about it.
Heteronormativity is a term coined in 1991 to describe the incorrect idea that heterosexuality is the “normal” way to be. And it is with that mindset that I sat awkwardly in Brian’s driveway, unsure if I should call him or go up to his door. It’s the wrong outlook, and the only way to live in the rainbow is to leave heteronormativity completely behind.
When you go on your first gay date, it can be confusing as to what role you play. But basic rules still apply to gay dates. For instance, if you are the person asking someone out, you better be the one paying. And either way, hold the door open for your date. Chivalry is attractive, regardless of gender or orientation.
So buy flowers for the cute guy when you go to dinner. Let the pretty girl pay for your coffee. Show each other that chivalry is far from dead.Contact Eric Ramirez.