Johnny’s World: LGBT

September 12, 2013 9:25 AM13 comments

jworldLesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender. LGBT covers a lot of what the world doesn’t quite understand. In recent times I’ve heard the possibility of adding a “Q” for queer, and an “A” for ally, but it’s always been quite peculiar to me how this grouping came about and how it’s very rare for people to point out that the members of the group have very little in common. In some ways I equate this combination of beautiful humans the same as if the Black Panthers were called the Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim-Panthers, Tigers, Matzohs and Camels. Seemingly grouped together because of their rights to discrimination and inequality at any given time, but having next to nothing in common otherwise.

Some time ago, I was a part of a CNN panel in Atlanta and I was joined on stage by another gay man, a transgender woman and a lesbian where we discussed a wide prism of topics that affected our community. We covered things like marriage equality, workplace equality, and children and something that struck me, as it always does, was how little in common I had with these incredible survivors of a life that constantly throws curveballs. I was listening to them speak, not as peers, but as people our community could look up to and much like Disney took forever to create an un-white princess, I was trying to find my princess on stage.

The CNN talk was a very intellectual group that broke a lot of ground in their own rights but looking at my other world, the entertainment world again there seems to be very few people I can relate to. RuPaul, while a gay man, makes his living by dressing in women’s clothing and taking on the persona of a powerful woman, as many drag superstars do. On the opposite end of the gay man spectrum we’ve got gentlemen like Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris who have taken very serious, more straight approaches to their work and have become very famous playing the strong, manly gays.

In between all that, the young gay men of the world are left with people like me, Liberace (who was probably my closest spirit animal), Elton John and the like who fall somewhere on the spectrum betwixt Ru and Anderson. However, the remaining likeness is that we are men who sleep with men and despite our internal diversity, we have a common trait that links us.

When looking at the other letters of our beloved acronym, I have to wonder what it is I have in common. Aside from similar friend circles in the fashion and entertainment world and an affinity for Christian Louboutins, famous trans-superstar Amanda Lepore and I couldn’t be more different. Lepore started life in New Jersey as a young man and through time and many surgeries, she has been transformed into the body of the woman she was supposed to be born as. The transgender community is the most mystifying to me, as it is the hardest for me to understand as a man who was born into the proper body, regardless who I sleep with.

If the saying men are from Mars, women from Venus is true than how would the gay men or people understand the life of a lesbian? Equally broad in their prism of masculine and feminine as the gay men, lesbian society is different in many ways. The most obvious difference is that gay men look for men, while lesbians look for women, and aside from the straight women that gay men attach to and befriend who also look for men, the fairer sex can still be baffling, the same way women are baffling to straight men.

Bisexuality is the one that gets me going the most. My husband for example, is gay and married me, however before me he was in a long-term relationship with a woman who he was able to do all the things couples are supposed to do, sex included, as a gay man. Does this mean he’s bi-sexual or he was just surviving as a closeted gay man? Is bi-sexuality a convenience or is it greedy as many people think? Aside from sexual liberation, bi-sexuality doesn’t strike me as a full-blown way of life like homosexuality or transgenderism. It seems to be a sex thing.

I think as a group we are stronger and can do more for each of our communities with a little help from friends, but I also wish each group would have equal opportunity to stand alone and simply be the G or the T and not have to share billing with everyone else. We are predominantly grouped into one large circus by the world, yet we couldn’t be more diverse and different from one another and I think it deserves recognition. Our differences are how we should receive understanding.

  • Lady Lisa

    It’s true, labels often widely group together things that society is unable (or unwilling) to fully understand. I think the best way to gain global understanding and to be taken seriously is for each group to assert their differences daily and on all levels. I think each group is worthy of being recognized and understood for it’s own uniqueness. I have several gay male friends (some more colourful than others), and they are not all the same, nor are they a ‘circus act’. So, that said, why would I assume that all who fall under the LGBT group are all the same? All members of each ‘letter’ should have equal chances to show their individuality. And I’d like to believe society is smart enough to know that all people in a community are not the same, just as all people in your neighbourhood are not the same.

    • TJ

      I agree that Weir’s point is a valid one in general; however I have to question why he is making it at this moment in time. This article does a good job being controversial and readable but do we really need reminding at this specific moment in time of how different we are as a community? I’m not saying that Weir needs to become the face of the LGBT Russia activism cause; in fact I don’t agree with many of that “camp”‘s statements. But at a time like this, in this context, I do think that as someone who people do look to as a leader, Mr. Weir would do better to be bringing people together/reminding us more of our similarities than our differences. Perhaps I am off-base though;) I would welcome any critiques of my POV as I really am a huge fan of Johnny Weir in general and would love for someone to explain to me that in fact I am wrong in my ‘read’ of this article…:) Thanks!

      • jenn k

        I’m not sure this article is meant to be purposefully controversial (or hurtful, for that matter). In my opinion many of these pieces seem more like Johnny musing out loud on things he’s working out for himself.

        While the divisions aren’t so clear cut in other “special interest” groups, none of us march in lockstep with a set of unified goals. Women who identify as feminists don’t all agree on what equality is or what steps are most important to reach it.

        It would be nice if we could all band together as people, and work toward things that benefit us all. Unfortunately I think the fear of “other” may be too much a part of our DNA for that to happen.

        TJ, maybe you could talk a little about being bisexual. Our conversation on sexuality seems to focus on the two poles of gay and straight with nothing in between. Maybe you could help people reach a better understanding.

        • TJ

          Hey thanks for your nice response to my comment:)

          I definitely don’t think it was meant to be purposefully hurtful either.

          Hmm, if I had to describe bisexuals in the way Weir is musing… I guess bisexuals would be the ones who are just more attractive than anyone else. So we get more attention, and so everyone else gets angry and makes up all sorts of lies about us (that we’re promiscuous and unable to make up our minds about who we like, for example).

          ;)

          Seriously though, the promiscuous/”not a real sexuality just confused” stereotypes do get annoying though. That’s why I had the whiplash reaction to the quote about bisexuality being just a “sex thing”. Even though I’m sure that’s not how he meant it. Not to worry, I’m still a big Weir fan. I’m just a little sensitive even to musings from time to time;)

        • TJ

          My critique about addressing this topic right now was really more about Weir’s handling of being dubbed unofficial spokesperson for the Russian LGBT situation. I just really adore the guy and I want to see him act in a way that he’ll be able to look back at in five years and be really (excuse the language) f-ing proud of, whatever that is. If it’s trying to diffuse the situation and get both ‘sides’ per se to respect each other, like he seems to be doing now (?) or whatever. I’ll think he’s awesome either way, even if he does occasionally hurt my sensitive artistic little soul with his off the cuff musings about bisexuality;) But seriously I just right now don’t really see a coherent ‘line’ that he’s taking and I’m worried that he’s missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to be even more than the amazing artist and personality that he already is. (If he wants that). I guess we all have unrealistic hopes for our heroes;)? I mean I don’t have any idea what the hell I’d do in his shoes. Anyways I do think he’s on to something much more sophisticated and sensitive than most opinions on the situation, with his anti-boycott stance and being respectful/empowering of LGBT Russian citizens as opposed to the idiot idea of disparaging Russia as a whole (I mean the Stoli boycott? Really? Yes we all understand and admire the base sentiment behind it but realistically how’s that going to help any Russian LGBT person? And besides Russia is amazing and beautiful, that’s not changed by the fact that some dumbass in the Kremlin signed a piece of paper and some neo-Nazis. It’s not constructive to disparage an entire nation – rather we should support them, like a beautiful person who has just developed some kind of ailment). Sorry, this comment of mine got way off track and probably way out of line for some pseudo-activist dumb fan to be hypothesizing about:P I’m just saying a really admire and respect the guy and what I perceive as his point of view thus far, and I want more of that and for him to tell everyone who has a stupid or senseless point of view to f off in the usual gorgeous classy Johnny Weir style;) And explain exactly why they should. Okay I’ll shut up now. I sincerely apologize to anyone I’ve offended, this is probably not my place to be making these comments/critiques. If I’ve missed some awesome article or interview of his that defines that line of thought I’m looking for pls let me know. Thanks so much.

      • Lady Lisa

        “Unsubscribe”

        • TJ

          Lol fair enough:)

          So you’re saying you think his position as an activist is probably that he’d prefer not to be one;)? Geez for a guy who doesn’t want to be in that role history certainly tried to create the ‘perfect storm’ to try and force his hand otherwise. I mean what other gay Russophile athlete have you ever heard of before ever?? Let alone one of Weir’s public stature? Poor guy.

          I guess my problem is that from my perspective personally I just can’t understand why he *wouldn’t* want to be an activist. It’s such a rush!!! I’m not talking about the obnoxious yelling-at-people-for-the-sake-of-yelling-at-people “activists”, or the obnoxious over-PC mainstream, but activism in terms of “Talent + Helping others = Purpose”, you know? He’s such a talented guy and in a position where he could really be helpful to others. If he wanted to I really think he could have a hand in changing the course of history right now. I just don’t get it:/ I’m just jealous I’ll never have the opportunity to do what he could do right now in terms of activism because (among other things) I myself don’t have the talent to ever attract that fan base and international attention:/ I’d be f-ing freaked out if I did and probably mess the whole thing up but damn I wish I had that chance:/

        • TJ

          I do respect his choice either way because it’s his and anyways I don’t know the full story because I’m not him and have never been in a situation remotely like his. And look forward to following him in the future because he IS an amazing artist, athlete, and entertainer:)

        • Lady Lisa

          My post that says “Unsubscribe” has to do with reducing e-mail notifications, and it has nothing to do with this column in any way. Sorry if I confused anyone!

          • TJ

            Oops sorry about that, I read too much into it;) No worries — on to the next article. He really hit it out of the park this week didn’t he?! I like your reply to ‘Make-Up’ too. See ya @ “Make-Up” soon:)

          • Lady Lisa

            Glad you liked my reply to’ Make-Up’, thanks! You know this past weekend I dumped out my whole make-up bag and threw out a lot of stuff I haven’t worn in forever, but, I confess, I didn’t throw it ALL out, just couldn’t part with my MAC and lancome eyeshadows! Everything in moderation – except MAC!

          • TJ

            Good for you! Hmm, I need to do that too. Don’t worry, MAC eyeshadows don’t even count as make-up, they’re too great! They’re like shiny little instant happiness treasures. And Lancome is fantastic. Totally understandable to save both of them;)

            Speaking of ‘make-up’, I wonder what happened to JW’s article today? I miss my weekly dose of JW wit and thoughts.

  • TJ

    As a bi fan of Weir I’m very hurt by this article. I also feel betrayed because I defended him in front of my friends and family — but now apparently because I am a bisexual I have nothing in common with him and I am “only about sex”?

    Please publish this comment — I am annoyed that my previous one was unpublished. This *is* a critique of the article but it is a legitimate one and it is neither libelious nor defamatory; it is my honest response. I am still a fan of Weir but a disappointed one. My pov deserves to be voiced just as much as those of the people who agree with him. Thank you.

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