National Commentary

Johnny’s World: LGBT

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.