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Theresa Allen

Part IX

"But, we're friends. We can talk, right?"

"Yes, David. We can talk. But I don't think that our experiences have many similarities."

"Why not? We both like men, we both have relations with men, literally."

"Yeah, I get what you're saying. I just don't think that it's all that simple."

"How can it not be simple?"

"You're still a man, and I'm still a woman. Your sexuality does not change your gender."

"But we have so much in common. You know, the sex thing."

"That's the problem these days...everyone has to 'have something in common' or they are dangerous and scary."

"I don't follow you."

"I know you don't."

"Will you try to explain? C'mon, we are still friends."

"I'll try. But I've tried to explain this to you before. I wasn't successful then, I doubt that I will be now."

"Just try me, Dear."

"Well for one, 'Dear.' But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's this, David, that we are different genders and our different genders mean that from very early on, our experiences in life, those things that help make us what we are, have been different."

"Well I, for one, have endured many conflicts as a gay man, conflicts which you have not endured. I think that this makes me a bit stronger than you, Lammikins."

"Hold up David. You're proving my point for me and there is so much to explain before we get to the end. I'm not only talking about events, occurrences, or traumas. I'm talking about the way that we are socialized, the way that we are brought up. Something that you don't know about, as a gay man, is how to be submissive. Oh, you may have picked up a few pointers and tips along the way, but you don't know what it's like to have this consciously and subconsciously etched into your brain and the brains of everyone that you interact with from the moment that you are born. You don't know what it's like to have an aptitude for something that is 'traditionally male', and the only acceptable tool that you have to fight your way into this is submission and passive aggression because if you dare a direct approach, you get ridiculed."

"Hey! Don't think that I don't know what being excluded means! I'm a GAY MAN! I know exactly what it means to have to fight for something."

"I'm sure that you do, but I think that you still don't get the point. You're still trying to make us 'the same.' We're not. Not only are we socialized differently right from the start, you are socialized, regardless of what you happen to learn along the way, that women are inferior, not as strong and that as a man, straight, gay, or otherwise, nature has ordained you as the 'natural' leader. No matter how you relate to your mother, you are still what you are."

"Is this an attempt to make my struggles seem frivolous, or not as rough as yours?"

"No, not at all. I'm simply pointing out that we do not have all that much in common, including the nature of the struggles that we face. David, when was the last time that a gay man was denied a job because the employer didn't want to deal with a menopausal woman?"

"Well, when was the last time that an employer denied a woman a job because he was afraid that the woman would molest his son?"

"This is a valid point, but you are still not getting it. David, not only is our 'substance' different, we look different. In your scenario, the boss has to first surmise that you are gay. All he sees, initially, is a man. The vision of a man brings to mind all things stereotypically masculine. In my scenario, the woman doesn't have to do anything other than 'be.' Your 'gayness' isn't part of what will make up his initial impression of you whereas, a woman looks the part. Prejudice and unfair bias are, by and large, based upon first impressions, or, what people look like. Do you understand? You and I are not the same. We got socialized differently, right from the start. We developed, physically, differently and look different. Our appearances rule the types of stereotypes that we will invoke upon being seen. You were brought up as a male, and you look and act male. Homosexuality hasn't changed that. I am just the opposite. I was brought up female and look and act it. And if I were gay, I would still look and act like a woman"

"What? We can never get along because of our gender differences? This is a pretty narrow view of things...I thought that we were friends."

"No, it's not a narrow view because we don't have to 'be the same' to be friends. That's the issue. What is it with you? Why does it have to be 'familiar' in order to be acceptable? Why can't the differences make us 'attractive,' and therefore, 'worthy friends?' Why can't you look at yourself and see, and with that sight, be conscious of how my appearance dictates your behavior toward me? Does everything have to be divisible by the lowest common denominator?"

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