The Decorating Adventures of Ambrose Price. It's shown on HGTV in Canada and has been picked up on Logo here in the US. Ambrose Price is an interior designer whose dream is to make it big and become Canada's Martha Stewart. Each episode he has some sort of project; for example, on one he was helping out a group with their fund raiser and wrapped a bunch of presents that were being auctioned off; so, he went around and consulted with various 'experts' in the art of gift wrapping. I actually learned quite a bit, such as how to wrap odd shaped boxes - I just wish I had watched it BEFORE Christmas.
It's an entertaining show; but, Ambrose Price is quite flaming in his mannerisms - which got me to wondering: Why do some gay men act . . . well . . . so gay?
First off, I think stereotypes often exist for a reason - there are certain inherent characteristics, mannerisms, etc. that are more prevalent in gay males than in the general male population (I'm sure the same is true for females; but, I have no experience in that area). Certainly no gay male possesses every gay stereotype; but, being gay does seem to make it more likely that you have some stereotypical gay attributes. We refer to these as OGT's or Obviously Gay Traits. For example, I'm pretty straight acting overall - but I have zero interest in sports and I enjoy cooking. That's not to say that doesn't describe some straight men - but those characteristics are more common among gay men.
But, beyond that, I think there is a cultural aspect to being gay. For one thing, once we accept ourselves as gay, we may feel less inclined to hide our less manly attributes. In fact, it can even become a point of pride to have some talent not commonly found in straight men. I think also some gay men may tend to attenuate some of their gay traits beyond their normal levels; perhaps even taking on certain mannerisms that they don't possess inherently.
Is this a bad thing? We have a diverse culture consisting of many sub-cultures. For example, (not trying to sound prejudiced) we can often talk to someone on the phone and determine that they are black just by the way they speak. That's not a bad thing - it just is. Black culture includes certain speech patterns that are not commonly found among non-black folk. I'm not referring to ebonics, just in the way certain words are inflected. Personally, I think it can be a good thing when a person takes on a certain pride in their heritage and culture.
Can the same be true of gay culture? There are certainly mannerisms, speech patterns, etc. that we associate with being gay - Is it wrong for us to talk a certain way, walk a certain way, act a certain way?
What if we're an active card carrying Mormon (or any other non-affirming faith, for that matter), is it wrong for us to take pride in our gay culture, our gay heritage? How does this jive with the statement in the God Loveth His Children pamphlet which says "It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion."
I've had people note of some of my domestic capabilities by joking about me "making a good wife" or some of my lesson/activity preparations by joking that I'm "putting relief society to shame". I used to be offended by such comments - now I take them as a compliment. But, does that mean my tendencies have risen to the level of "unnecessary observation or discussion?" To be a good Mormon man should I be downplaying my less manly characteristics? I'm not suggesting I'm going to - I'm just wondering if that's what good gay Mormon boys are supposed to do. Is it OK for me to keep doing the things I do as long as people don't know that I'm gay? Is it only when people know I'm gay coupled with my actions and mannerisms that I become a topic of "unnecessary observation or discussion?"
It really gets confusing - because some things that the general society defines as less manly are hailed among Mormon men - such as public displays of emotions (i.e. crying) or musical abilities - while others are strongly discouraged in Mormon culture, such as long hair on boys or boys wearing earrings. Furthermore, we focus on masculine behavior for our male youth. It's not hard to imagine some adult young men leader encouraging a boy who has an effeminate walk or talk to be more manly. I'm envisioning the effeminate Mr. Humphries on the British sitcom "Are you Being Served" who would lower his voice to say "Menswear" upon answering the phone to sound more manly.
So, where is the line depicting what is acceptable gay behavior in Mormon circles? And, perhaps more importantly, where should that line be? Can I attend church acting and talking more like Ambrose Price? Or would that cause "unnecessary observation or discussion?" What does that even mean?
It is this thought process which lead to January's Polls - what stereotypes do we see ourselves possessing? This could also be an alternative theme for January: Are these stereotypes deserved? Why or why not?