I’d Rather Be Jane Than Tarzan

Every so often I gaze around at the beautiful, queer creatures that I call friends and I can’t help beam with a sense of pride. Many of them are drag queens, many identify as gender-queer and many identify as femme gay men. I am all for the full liberation from gender binaries and I applaud anyone who steps to the beat of their own drum; to live as one’s authentic self is the bravest and inspiring thing anyone can do. 

Living in this bubble is comfortable but the fragility of living in such an open space is made apparent when I read an insulting comment online or hear hateful remarks whispered in bars. I’m not talking about comments coming from outside the LGBTQI community rather the comments that are hissed at wonderful people from within. I’m talking to the Tarzans of our community (and I hate to attach such a great Disney film to bitter-Betties). Now before we go any further I will admit that I present as male: I have facial hair and I wear clothes that are usually found under the ‘Men’s’ section of any high-street store. Even still, I would never claim to be masculine, I float around quite happily being as feminine as I want. I’m not attacking anyone who presents as male and is happy with that presentation. I am talking about the ‘Masc-for-Masc, no-camp, straight-acting’ gays who don’t even realise how damaging and deeply hurtful their comments are to their fellow gay men. 

Just this week I did the silliest of moves by going onto the comment thread of an article that quoted various British soap stars asking for more screen time for their camp characters. I didn’t even have to scroll far down the thread to find the bullfrog with the blow-horn proclaiming “MEN SHOULD BE MEN”, “I FANCY MEN NOT WOMEN”, “GENDER NORMS ARE THE MESSIAH” and I began bashing my head off of my laptop. 

Let’s get a few things straight. People don’t have to conform to your idea about masculinity and femininity. No one has the right to police anyone’s gender expression. People should be free to wear what they want and to enjoy their lives however they want. Everyone should be free to live and be as feminine or masculine as they want as long as they do not judge others for who they are. Insidious and venomous views only damage us and I need all of you to see that. Your comments reek of internalised homophobia. Society has beaten into so many of us for so long that anyone who is not definable by what is deemed as acceptably fitting into a category of man-masculine: woman-feminine that there is something wrong with them. 

There is not. 

If this is sounding like the way that you think then I think you need to think about how you think.

Think. 

We as a community have enough obstacles to face, in particular our trans brothers and sisters still have many legal barricades to get access to medical care, employment and open acceptance by everyone -a fight we must help with. I am proud to be a part of a community that accepts anyone for who they are as long as they love with open hearts and celebrate how wonderfully diverse we all are. 

There is no room for chest-banging. There is no room for perpetuating oppression. I think it’s time you swing on down and join us in the jungle that is as vibrant and colourful as you are ever going to get. 

by Conner Milliken

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