Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
What happens when you’ve been carefully taught that we should all look, talk, and act alike—and then you discover you had your eyes shut? Adapting to people who are different—especially people you didn’t realize were all around you—isn’t easy. At first, you want to look away, because you feel like you’re intruding on something you weren’t supposed to know. Some people are so intimidated by the idea that they live near those who don’t fit their mold that they do everything they can to reform the “errant ones” until they match…or they eliminate them from the picture. As certain individuals, religions, and cultures have decided, better to make yourself into one who persecutes or even murders than to admit human society was never meant be a homogeneous glob. It’s your choice and your consequence if you believe you’re somehow more correct or worthy of divine love than others.
Recently, my husband and I watched the romantic comedy BROS, publicized as the first gay rom-com. As “senior citizens,” we were born into a superficially white, straight society that made and enforced laws against inappropriate love—between homosexuals, different races, even different cultures now and then. In watching BROS, we were anticipating learning about a culture we want to understand better. When one of the characters in the film declares vehemently that “Love is not love!” meaning that gay love is not the same as straight love, we felt ourselves being spotlighted as the uninformed. How can love not be love? For the characters in the film, the idea is largely correct. They “play the field,” entering sexual relationships to stave off loneliness as easily as one might drink a beer. Okay. We understand that gay relationships have developed under the stress of a society that vilifies them, so they’re bound to follow contrasting mores. However, I contend that actual love remains recognizable as an unselfish sharing of the deepest level of self. It isn’t easily found as a pure emotion for straights, gays, or anyone else, but it’s worth the search.
Although other gender identities and expressions are represented in BROS, they only people the background. That bothered me, since I have friends who are gay and settled in monogamous relationships that I can understand more easily. (Perhaps they deliberately make me comfortable to be with them?) I’m bothered whenever any group is presented as containing individuals who are all alike. No group contains individuals who uniformly match—not whites, not blacks, not Muslims, not Christians, not conservatives, not liberals, not women, not men, not gays. Even when we do the same things, we may be acting according to different motivations. We all need to remember that truth.
I applaud BROS, because it normalizes a segment of human society that may be as old as humanity itself. The film is funny and open and reminds us of bright alternative perspectives we’ve been missing. Seeing an actor who portrays the straight romantic lead in traditional TV movies then present himself sharing intimacy with men was unsettling at first. The Hollywood charade has usually run the opposite direction. Straight people need to rise above knee-jerk rejection. Ignorance isn’t always a choice. Often it’s thrust upon us by exclusion we encouraged. We don’t have to copy behaviors we don’t embrace. We don’t have to like or approve what isn’t ours to judge. As long as the relationship is a choice and no one is being exploited, I say that’s free will—part of the rainbow of humankind as it was designed. Unconditional love doesn’t dictate.