I Used to Be a Tomboy: 10 Common Misconceptions about Gay People

I have always been amazed at how remarkably interested perfect strangers seem to be in my sex life. That’s the problem with being gay. Not only do people choose to believe all sorts of pretty ridiculous things about you, they’re constantly trying to tell you what those things are.

And they go out of their way to do it. They drive by gay bars in pick-up trucks, chuck beer bottles at anyone walking in from the parking lot, shout various epithets, and speed off. They stand on sidewalks on college campuses clutching a Bible and shouting at passers-by about Sodom and Gomorrah. They stand for hours in the hot sun outside gay pride events toting hand-lettered signs expressing their interpretation of God’s particular tastes (i.e. “God hates queers”).  All of this because a few of us prefer partners of the same gender. When you think about it, you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.

So with the vote on Amendment One (which would make gay marriage in the state of North Carolina illegal twice over) fast approaching, I thought I would dispel a few of the misconceptions about gay folks like me.

1 – Being gay is a choice.  Gay people are demonized in churches and legislative houses. They are disowned by their families, fired from jobs, snubbed by neighbors, dishonored by the military, and generally victimized by bullies and haters of all kinds. There is often such a high cost for being openly gay that some people will stay closeted for their entire lives rather than pay it. Yet, still, there are people who insist that gay men and lesbians choose to be gay.

So let me ask all of you, would you choose it? The only choice a gay man or lesbian really has is whether to be true to our feelings and live as we are or to conform to society’s expectations, stuff what we feel, and live a lie regardless of the personal cost.

2 – Lesbians want to be men. When I was five years old, I wanted very much to be a Cub Scout like my big brothers. I was told only boys could be Cub Scouts. I was crushed. When I was old enough to join the girl scouts and be a Brownie, I happily signed up. But the Brownies weren’t like the Cub Scouts. They didn’t get those cool yellow kerchiefs and blue shirts and caps. They wore brown dresses and beanies. I was mortified.

But my mom said, give it a chance so I did, but not once did I get to make a balsa wood model racecar. My troop just sat around singing Kumbaya and playing stupid party games. I hated it. It was my first inkling that I wasn’t like the other girls. I grew up happily wearing my brothers’ hand-me-down dungarees and playing with their hand-me-down Matchbox cars. When I was 25, my mom was still telling people that I still hadn’t outgrown my tomboy stage. I’m 46 now, and I still haven’t.

Yes, that’s me about 15 years ago and yes,
that is a dinosaur footprint.

So I have to tell you. I have always coveted boys’ clothes and toys. To me, they are more comfortable and more fun. (From the first time I almost broke my ankle in high heels and nursed sore toes for a week after wearing the evil things for an evening, I knew that “girl” clothes would never be for me.) But a girl who wants to wear jeans and have a cool pocketknife is still a girl. Not once have I ever, and I think I would know, wanted a penis. So no, I have never wanted to be a man. But I did want very much to be a Cub Scout.

3 – Lesbians hate men. This one is kind of funny to me because of all my women friends, gay and straight, it is by far the straight women who trash men the most. (Sorry guys, but it’s true.)

As for me, well, I love women. And that has nothing to do with hating men. Actually, it has nothing to do with men at all – that’s kind of the point. And I think that pisses off some men. I don’t know why. Maybe they perceive lesbians as competition. (We’re not, you know. Well, except for the bisexual women. But I think true bisexuals are rare. So mostly, the women who dated me were never going to date you.) Or maybe the chest-beaters out there don’t like the idea that two women can be happy together without a man. Honestly, I think that’s it.

I can see now, that this is going to take more than one post. Stay tuned for part two of 10 Stupid Common Misconceptions about Gay People. (Don’t go away now. Tomorrow, we tackle Leviticus. Whee.)

And remember, if you live in North Carolina, the polls are open for early voting!

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  1. I still don’t understand why people have so many “issues” and opinions about the gay community. I think I know more “tomboyish” straight women than gay ones.
    My daughter is a tomboy who likes only a few girly things. But she thinks dresses and mud go hand in hand, is the only girl on her baseball team and plans to marry her BFF in Paris when they grow up. Because he has cool toys and they both are 6. I have never once worried about her orientation or cared really. She is who she is and that’s all there is to it, I could care less who she loves when she is older, as long as she is loved in return.
    I think she puts it best “Sometimes girls loves girls and that’s okay, Aunt R & Aunt M are in love.” if only the rest of the world saw things like my child does.

  2. What always got me was the “choice” argument. It shouldn’t be an issue whether it even is a choice or not, ‘cuz isn’t this country about FREE CHOICE!? Talking/writing about things in this way definitely helps people’s views come around to see we all want the same things in life, just maybe in different packages (there’s an inappropriate joke in there somewhere : ).

    Nice post!

    • I hope you’re right! It sure does feel good to write about it after all these years of keeping my mouth shut and my head down. Thanks for the support. It is greatly appreciated.

  3. Sherrie stringer

     /  May 2, 2012

    BRAVO TORI!!! Can’t wait to read more….

    • THANKS COPPERTOP! Look, I’m being bold and actively advocating for our cause! It’s kind of scary. But look at all the comments from these nice people!

  4. joni

     /  May 2, 2012

    This was great (yet again!)! My son will kill me one day for posting this I am sure BUT he loves shoes. His first sentence ever was “I love shoes” , he likes his nails painted, and has been known to ask to wear his hair in ponytails to school. And I let him. On the flip side he crashes his bike into walls, battles with super hero action figures, and his weapon of choice is a nerf sword. Who knows and who cares. My mother said once, “You can’t let that little boy go to school with ponytails!” My reply was, “I am not having a 30 year old herion addicted son someday because I didn’t nurture his femine side when he was 4” not worth it. BUT I think maybe some lesbians a little want to be a boy ;0 lol!

    • Good for you for letting him be who he is! Our youngest was similar. He liked to tie bandanas around his waist as a skirt and he would play female characters (like Hermione) when he played make-believe games with his brother. But he also liked to climb things and jump from high places (trees, playscapes) and play with bugs and he’s always loved a good sword (or lightsaber) fight. His brother and he are in their teens now and they still have an old hamper full of Nerf swords in the garage. Thanks for all the support, Joni!

  5. Thank God, you are addressing these! Can’t wait for more, Tori! Yeah, you probably could have even almost made this into a 10 post series.

    • Hi Kathy! I didn’t realize, until I started, how difficult it was going to be to keep it brief. Especially now that I’ve finished part 2 and only made it through the fourth thing on the list. I never was a woman of few words (in writing anyway). Thanks for always be so supportive!

  6. Keep taking about this. It changes attitudes. There is definitely an attitude shift here in Canada. Alternative families (don’t you hate that phrasing) of all kinds are mentioned in our school curriculum, gay marriage is legal, and my kids understood that gay meant a different choice of partners from the time they could understand relationships.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Heidi! I think I’m doing this mostly because it feels good to let it out after so many years of just keeping my mouth shut. And how’s that bumper sticker go? “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” I really hope it makes a difference in some small way for someone besides me. And I can only hope that someday, the U.S. will be a socially equitable as Canada. People here would have a conniption fit if you condoned “alternative” families (and yes I do hate that term) in a public school.

  7. Funny, I’m actually doing an essay on this for a class I’m taking that is analyzing “Queer Cinema”.

  8. Funny, I’m actually writing an essay on this for a class I’m taking. We’ve been analyzing “Queer Cinema” and my stance is breaking down misconceptions about the gay community.. Can’t wait to see the second part.

  9. Love it! Keep it coming 🙂

  10. 3 for 3 so far. Can’t wait to see next 7. Lol

  11. Great job-cant wait to read the rest….

  12. Wow! Very well written and right on the money, in my opinion! I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Will keep my eyes peeled for part 3!

  13. Great post. Thank God (as you understand Him or Her) for folks willing to speak their truth. Thank You!
    I am hetro, married and happy. Most of my life was spent trying to figure out what was “wrong” with gay people. Most often, those thoughts were about what happened in the bedroom. Funny, when I meet someone, say Bill and Mary, my thoughts never go to what happens in the privacy of their bedroom. But introduce me to a gay couple or person and I start trying to figure things out. This is my twisted mental sickness. Part of my upbringing, beliefs, don’t know… but I know it can change.
    A wonderful couple on Oprah challenged me to look inside and look at why I think the way I do. I have done (and still do) that and I come to a new conclusion. Each person is unique. It is no ones business what happens in their private space. I (try real hard) to meet Bill and or Mary as a creature of God then start trying to figure out if they fit in my world. What a change from someone like me – homophobic to acceptance. Who would have guessed?
    Thanks Again!

  14. Nice article. Very well written, logical and none histrionic. I love it.

  15. Greatly humane post. What is so sad is that bigots put so much energy into being bigoted whether we’re talking about race, creed or sexual orientation. How wonderful if we could simply respect (take joy in) other people’s existence whatever they choose it to be – so long, of course, that it is not harming anyone else. What ugly barriers we make for ourselves. Love your blog title too – ‘fork in my eye’. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  16. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I liked your post and think you are doing a great job with your boys….great admiration for your courage. It disheartens me to realise there is and always will be a section of society that is forever bigoted about the nature of being human rather than embracing the beauty and richness of diversity.

  17. We moved to Northampton MA two years ago. (We’re an old hetero couple, just for the record.) This is possibly the most favorable climate for lesbians raising children in the whole USofA. Possibly the most favorable climate for any and every sexual orientation. So much so that we can forget that the rest of the USofA is not exactly Northampton when it comes to these matters. Just to let you know there ARE already places like this, with such a prevailing climate.

  18. Kashi

     /  July 18, 2013

    Thanks for the article. I don’t understand why people even care about other people’s consentual relationships. When I was growing up in SF with a single, straight mom, we had friends who were just friends. If they happened to have same-sex partners, it wasn’t a big deal. It just was. When I asked my mom, at a young age, something about a woman singing a love song to another woman, she just said “some women love men and some women love women.” And that was the end of it.
    With my own son, now 20, I always provided choices when the topic of relationships came up. I would say, when you grow up, make sure you marry a man or woman who loves you and who you love, etc.
    I think the way to teach kids about tolerance is to just expose them to a variety of people and let them see by example that its all good. Answer questions honestly and simply. If we put too much emphasis on any one specific group when the kids are young, then they will interpret that as “different from me” which humans are biologically programmed to reject for survival. Gay Uncle Al is Uncle Al. What gender he sleeps with is like what kind of car he drives: his personal preference.
    My position is that diversity does not equal different.
    To me, different means someone who has values and judgements that are radically different: as in, bigotry and violence and criminality are ok, etc.
    Having said all of that, I realize it might not be that simple if you are raising kids in the bible-belt or some other community that is intolerant. But one can always move.

  1. gossipchap.com » Blog Archive » Being Gay and being alone- A beatific boy there

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