By Eric Ramirez
I met Dan about a month ago and we’ve become pretty good friends since then. In fact, Dan, awesome buddy that he is, is making a graffiti print of my favorite Justin Bieber picture for me to hang in my room.
Go figure, a straight guy making Bieber-art for a gay guy? Yeah, he’s that cool. And not only is Dan straight, he’s a military man from Boston, rough around the edges.
It took meeting him for me to realize this, but I had been heterophobic. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But I also know that I am not the first (and won’t be the last) gay guy to treat straight guys unfairly.
The epiphany went something like this:
“Dude, I don’t care that you’re gay.”
“Thanks man, that means a lot.”
“See, that’s what I mean. Don’t thank me, you shouldn’t feel thankful about that.”
I was thankful because I assumed he would feel otherwise.
When I say “heterophobic,” I mean the assumption that a straight male will not accept a gay male based on his sexuality. I assumed that Dan wouldn’t accept me for being gay and, as a result, was uneasy when he first introduced himself to me.
Thinking back, my heterophobia was, at best, understandable. When I was a senior in high school, I had a crush on this straight guy. His friends eventually found out and pulled a prank on me, forging a love letter from him and sticking it to my windshield.
From then on I was apprehensive around straight men. And I’m sure other gay guys have similar stories where they were on the receiving end of insults and violence inflicted upon them by their heterosexual peers.
I acted differently around straight guys. I was insecure across the board, suddenly unable to own my sexuality rather than embrace it. Clear heterophobia, I was timid around straight guys and therefore uncomfortable in my own skin.
But my judgment of straight guys based on their sexuality was no different and no better than the homophobia that is shown toward gays. That may sound wrong, offensive even. But how can gays expect to be treated fairly when we, or at least some of us, are adding to the bias, not through rejection of heterosexuality but through assumptions based on it?
Being standoffish around straight guys doesn’t even give them a chance to prove us wrong. And if you are heterophobic like I was, take it from me, straight guy friends are priceless. Who else would I hang out with when my girlfriends are painting their toenails and watching “Pride and Prejudice?”Contact Eric Ramirez.