Lately I have noticed that I'm not particularly fond of too many shows on television. By this I'm specifically talking about sitcoms be them Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, and so on. Sitcoms are a type of show that I've watched for most of my life. I've gotten into a few of them, and I've generally enjoyed them over the years. But recently, I've grown tired of seeing one too many episodes of Big Bang Theory and Modern Family and I started to stop and think. It's fun to watch a show when I'm not thinking. I get to experience the jokes and playful humor without a second thought. And hey, the first two to three times watching an episode, things are generally funny. But then I stopped to look at these episodes and I realize something. I feel like these shows were not made for me.
Let me try to explain myself a little here. Currently I am a twenty five year old man who has found work off and on as a baker. I define my sexual orientation as demi-homosexual and I define my gender identity as gender queer. I've lived my entire life overweight and my self esteem is generally on the low side. I have suffered from depression and anxiety among other things. I tend to let my emotions get in the way of seeing the world for what it really is at times, and I have to remind myself that I don't even know what this world is like to begin with. I often remind myself that the place I'm currently in, both emotionally and physically is... well, for lack of a better word, weird. I'm not sure there was ever a day beyond fifth grade that I ever felt normal, but I think I've probably mentioned this on my blog more than a few times in various entries.
I suppose I could start with the obvious here and point out that while I'm not straight, most sitcoms revolve around straight men. These are characters that pursue relationships without a second thought. Ted Mosby on HIMYM seemed to date a fair number of women while searching for his one true love. Even if I were to ignore the fact that these relationships are heteronormative, this is something I personally find unrelatable. The very idea of me being comfortable enough to pursue even a casual relationship with someone else may as well be a work of fantasy. It's a bit of a strange feeling to be detached from a show's everyman on that level alone.
Well then what about a show that actually has two men in a relationship? It is true that Modern Family has this, and these characters Mitchell and Cameron don't seem to have dated as much as say Jerry Seinfeld or Ted Mosby (Or Ross and Joey from Friends). They are two men in a serious relationship from the start with an adoptive daughter starting a family and a life together. Before I start complaining about these two, let me just say that to me this is a significant step forward in media and growing up I honestly never thought I would see anything like this in a television show. Love between men is something very hard to come by from what I've seen, and with anything like this I feel that in a way it's huge without really being anything all that tremendous at all. That being said, I personally don't see myself being represented much in either of these characters.
Let me elaborate a little bit. It's true I am not in a relationship, serious or otherwise, and it is true I don't have an adoptive daughter and I am by no means starting a family myself. But let's put all of that aside for now and talk about why I don't relate to two characters on television who are gay, like me. For this I will start with Cameron. Cameron is generally, in my opinion, a walking, talking stereotype of what straight people think all gay people are like. Overly feminine, prone to drama, a love of arts and crafts with a sense of style and body language that is, generally speaking, flamboyant. As a demi-sexual and even gender queer individual (who tends to score as more feminine than masculine on gender identity quizzes) I can't help but watch this character and scream in my head "THIS IS NOT WHAT I'M LIKE." To me personally there is nothing quite so disheartening as to see a gay character on television that does not in any way represent anything that I am or anything that I stand for. For example, Cameron decides to come out to his grandmother (who is a bigot) that he is in love with Mitchell, has a daughter and a family and is going to get married. His grandmother responds with a close minded statement (accusing their identities as gay men to be the cause of a storm of all things) and Cameron's reaction? He's just glad his grandmother ultimately agreed to attend their wedding (in spite of Mitchell pointing out that she is bringing a sign and protesting gay marriage). Cameron shows no remorse that this family member will not accept him. He goes on without a care in the world, and honestly this is the scene that makes my stomach flip every time. I spent most of my life being closeted from my family, I have worried for years about whether or not I would be accepted (and, hey, even though I'm out of the closet I still struggle with this with my parents). This is something that to me is a huge deal. It's something that impacts my relationship with my family to this day and it's something I find utterly disgusting that people like me have to deal with because it is disgusting. This exchange to me feels like something out of a bad fantasy. It strikes me as totally unrealistic and it is why I hate his character for his carefree attitude towards bigotry. Granted his character has been about breaking the mold and not conforming to certain stereotypes, but this scene is something that I personally will never accept.
Now then, let's talk about Mitchell. While neither of these characters truly captures what it's like to deal with homophobia in the modern day in my opinion, Mitchell does have his moments. Namely the relationship Mitchell has with his father. He talks about being closeted to his dad up until college when he finally built up enough courage to tell his father Jay that he is gay. According to Mitchell, his father used to call him every week or so when he was away at college to catch up. However, after he came out to Jay, those phone calls stopped. Mitchell is clearly upset about this and honestly this is another scene that sticks out to me. This is the only moment that his character feels real to me. This is the one scene in the entire show where I feel like I can even remotely relate to his character. I've been there. I am there now. Granted my relationship with my parents isn't the same as Mitchell's relationship to his father, but I often feel like my family just doesn't understand what it's like to be in my position. Sometimes they say things without thought and I get hurt because of it. It happens.
Despite this one scene, however, I largely feel that these two characters do not relate to me. And that is shame considering, well, I thought they would. Both of them follow designers, be it a white couch or a decorative glass bowl, they seem to be into trendy, upscale material possessions. Meanwhile, I may spend some time planning my outfits, but I'm about as fashionable as a rock, honestly. I don't keep up with trendy things, and unless it's plating a dessert at the end of a five course dinner, I don't have much of an eye for style or the finer things in life. At one point, while their friend Pepper Saltsman plans their wedding, his assistant says at one point that planning a gay wedding is much more difficult than a heteronormative wedding because both grooms have such high standards. And um, again, THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M LIKE. When I'm watching characters like this, characters that are supposed to represent people like me, I can't help but feel that this was not intended to cater to me. This was intended to cater to people who think this is what I'm actually like. It feels isolating and on some level lonelier than I could have ever imagined.
Well, this entry has gone on for quite a few paragraphs. While I could go on, I feel like I've at least covered the gist of things. Keep in mind, these are my opinions and my opinions alone. Not every gender queer gay dude thinks the same, and I fully expect there are going to be people to disagree with me. But these are just opinions from someone who never really felt like he fit in to begin with.