Gay community should get a pass when it comes to hugging, but ‘pansy’ comment is out of bounds

I share some of the sentiments of the self-declared “anti-hugger” Craig M. Miller of Lakewood (Letters, April 21). I agree that it’s ridiculous for Mitt Romney to hug someone. I also prefer the handshake to the hug for preliminary meetings. On occasion, I will do a handshake, then put my other hand on the other person’s shoulder. This adds some semblance of intimacy while still illustrating my desire to keep some distance.

But I must take issue with Mr. Miller’s criticism of Ellen DeGeneres, as well as his use of the term “pansy.” I think this application is not culturally appropriate. In the straight world, maybe. But not in the gay world.

As a gay man, the term “pansy” has been used as a weapon against me and my kind. It is a term that is intended to mean I am “less than” a man. I take offense at that. Regarding Ellen DeGeneres, I think there is also another issue at play which Mr. Miller is not aware of. It involves gay culture.

As gay people, we have historically been told that we are not as good as the rest of you. I have noticed a phenomenon over the 30 years or so that I have been involved in the gay community. We seem to hug much more than Romney or Michelle Obama. I think this is because we are reacting against anti-gay sentiments. We have been told that we are not allowed to love each other, to feel kinship or friendship, and that we should be ashamed and hide. Thus, in gay circles you will see a lot of hugging. It was a bit of a shock at first for me. I am also from a “WASPish” background. But then I realized it was a push back against society’s anti-gay attitudes.

As gay people, we’re going to hug. So don’t be shocked or surprised when we do it. But I’m right with you regarding Romney and other straight folks. I agree that some people try to pretend that they are more familiar than they really are. And this seems false. But I think it’s important to know that when gay folks hug, I think it really is sincere. So please cut Ellen some slack, and please don’t use the word “pansy” to belittle someone.

Doug Braun Cleveland Heights

Article source: http://blog.cleveland.com/letters/2012/04/gay_community_should_get_a_pas.html

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