Do You Know ‘How To Be Gay’?

Is there a strict set of rules to determine how gay you are? Do you think there will ever come a time in our society when you aare instructed on how to be gay? Well, today I stumbled across a book review that portends to define these type of limiting parameters.

The Huffington Post reviewed the book How To Be Gay, written by David M. Halperin that homosexuality in the gay man is related to culture not sex. Halperin, a professor at University of Michigan suggests “gayness is not a state or condition. It’s a mode of perception, an attitude, an ethos: in short, it is a practice.” 

Since gay men are a product of culture, as Halperin suggests, our personality comes from depraved elements in our society and “resides in some of its most despised and repudiated features: gay male femininity, diva worship, aestheticism, snobbery, drama, adoration of glamour, caricature of women and obsession with the figure of the mother.” So I take it he feels that all gay men are shallow superficial fashion obsessed human beings that worship music and fashion icons. WRONG.

Others have taken notice, that the gay man are by and large similar to straight except when it comes to things like intimacy, behavior, and even in appearance. While differences are commonly found only in sexual attraction, Halperin, who is openly gay, however feels homosexuality in the gay man inhibits the ability to know oneself and “for all its undeniable benefits, gay pride is now preventing us from knowing ourselves.”

Halperin also likens the tendency of the gay man to use culture as a model for behavior and by analyzing it to abnormality by saying“What do perverts do, after all, if not pervert?” What kind of twisted logic is this? How can this man compare our behavior to social deviants? That we only have one track minds unable to have interests outside of pop culture?

In 2000 Halperin taught a controversial class to gay men described as “a conscious identity, a common culture, a particular outlook on the world, a shared sense of self.” Also, Halperin feels that our experience as gay men thriftless behavior is non-appreciative and that “sometimes I think homosexuality is wasted on gay people.”

Overall, Halperin suggests that observing his unique perspective is a journey to “complete obviousness combined with total unacceptability is typically what distinguishes every worthwhile idea.” It’s absurd that Halperin thinks he can encapsulate such a limited mode of behavior with lack of human variation.

What’s even more astonishing to me is when doing a quick search on how common a question like this is and found an article in GayLife that gave readers four specific points on how to conduct themselves as gay men, in their intro they even say “If you think you are “not gay enough” or think you are “too gay” then read this quick guide on how to be gay!” While I do find the title and intro jarring the message of being yourself is prevalent throughout the article.They also discusses the Kinsey Scale which notes that there are varying degrees to sexuality.

In spite of Mr. Halperin’s opinion we as human beings are way too complex to only have one mode of thinking as he implies. So what if that is what some gay men are interested in, you can’t use that as some blank statement on the behavior of gay men or any men. There is no guideline, rulebook, or instruction that can accurately navigate everyone’s experience regardless of sexuality, and to imply otherwise in my none too import opinion, is asinine.


4 thoughts on “Do You Know ‘How To Be Gay’?

  1. Great piece Sly..It’s good to see a more in depth review of Halperin’s book. Some of his thoughts remind me of someone who’s straight speaking for the far right. I agree…it’s asinine.

  2. Hi, Sly! Didn’t your mother tell you not to believe everything you read in the papers? Check out my book, not the reviews, and then see if you still think it’s so silly. Best wishes, David Halperin

    1. Hey David, thank you for taking the time out to respond. Firstly, yes my mother taught me quite well and to not read more into things that may not be there. But what else are we to ascertain with the title of the book is about teaching how someone is gay. If these is not so, please feel free to clarify to our readers. Do you not believe that gay men are dominantly influenced by culture of pop icons and feminine characteristics?

      1. Hi, Sly! Sorry to be slow to respond. My book is an effort to specify what the relation might be between sexuality and cultural form. Being gay seems to involve more than just sex — but why? I try to figure that out. I look at the way hierarchies of gender and sexuality pervade our culture. Thanks for your interest, and all the best, David

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