Why I Don’t Trust Straight White Men

But still have to police my own sexism around women

James Finn
Dec 18, 2020 · 7 min read

Girls have cooties, gay guys are gross because they’re like girls, and boys rule.

My three business partners were straight white guys in a traditionally masculine industry. Pete and Tim often teased Rich about his fussy fashion sense, careful haircut, and precise manners. He was straight and they knew it, but his affect said something feminine, and they ribbed him over it. Ceaselessly.

I am very wary around men, and I always have been

When I say men, I mean straight men, of course. I’m using men in the general sense to recognize that most men I encounter are straight. Straight is the default. The assumption. The ideal, as it were — at least among cis/straight men.

Homophobia is misogyny. It is sexism.

Giving Rich shit about looking gay was really about dissing him for looking or acting like a woman. The jokes would have had no sting if femininity were not something less than in a man. A man who truly respects and loves women could not insult another man for having feminine characteristics. The insult wouldn’t make sense.

Queer men are stuck in a tough PRIVILEGE spot

As a gay white man, I think about privilege a lot. My whiteness privileges me, but does my male-ness? Sometimes! While I’m quite a small man at the lower limits of normal male height, I suppose I’m still physically stronger than most (though certainly not all) women.

Queer men are excluded from the hierarchy of masculine privilege

The patriarchy is a hierarchy where people scramble for status, with white men at the top of the pyramid. In the last several decades, women have been shattering stereotypes and either subverting or co-opting the patriarchy, but it still dominates society, a smoking volcano filling up an arid plain.

Queer male responses to homophobia

How do queer men respond to the free-oxygen prevalence of homophobia in the air we breathe? It varies of course, but I take two approaches at the same time, neither of them deliberate or necessarily conscious.

  1. Withdrawal. I have had only a handful of straight male close friends during my almost 60 years on the planet. All but two of them have been Black or Hispanic. I’m not sure why I make friends more easily with straight men of color than with straight white men, but it might be that I resonate with their similar struggle for acceptance. When I say withdrawal, I mean I don’t trust straight white men. I don’t want to not trust them, but I don’t.

Being a man and not a man at the same time means watching behavior carefully

I work hard not to let my mistrust flavor my behavior. Acting on a reactive aversion to straight men would be hurtful and counterproductive, especially considering all the really lovely straight men I KNOW are out there who aren’t homophobic and mean me no harm. We can’t help what we feel, but we can be careful of what we do. So I try to treat all men equally and fairly. I’m sure I don’t always succeed.

I’m a queer man who doesn’t trust straight white men. That’s a tough spot to be in, but it’s pretty ordinary. Welcome to my world if you’ve never had a glimpse before.

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James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

Prism & Pen

Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling

James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

Prism & Pen

Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling

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