I have two friends, both soon-to-be University graduates, who have been accepted into the University’s Law School. One of them is an ethnic minority (Hispanic), insofar as she can check a box that says so on her law school applications. The other is an ethnic minority (Jewish), but not one that is recognized as such on law school applications. And because of this box-availability-distinction, my Hispanic friend has encountered comments alluding to the fact that the only reason she got in is because of her ethnicity … not her stellar GPA, LSAT score or extracurricular resumé. Conversely, my Jewish friend has not had to endure such criticism.
Statistically speaking, both of my friends are qualified to be invited to the University’s Law School. But what if my Hispanic friend did get in because of her ethnicity? She didn’t ask for extra consideration on her application; she merely checked the appropriate box. So what’s wrong with getting such consideration? I wouldn’t think any less of her if she were afforded some sort of benefit for something she can’t help – her overt minority status.
Similarly, I am overtly a minority. That is, I don’t disguise my sexual orientation. I certainly don’t flaunt it, but I don’t do anything to conceal it. So yeah, sometimes I’m a little gay. Many times this openness is costly.
While in Miami on Spring Break, for example, I was called a maricón — the Spanish equivalent of ‘faggot,’ — more than once, because apparently I was so gay that groups of Hispanic men couldn’t help but call me out on it. Such use of pejorative terms is, yes, hurtful. But, if being open and comfortable with my sexuality means that others will react in such ways … fine. Because personally, I think that there are benefits to being gay — personal and social advantages conferred to me by my sexual orientation. And for this maricón, these pros far outweigh the cons.
What are these purported advantages? Well, let me use a hypothetical to demonstrate. Once upon a time there was a gay male University student who wanted to do something with his writing. But, he didn’t have a venue through which to reach people in the ways that he desired. After all, who would be willing and able to embrace his homosexual ramblings?
He soon accepted his fate as a writer who could-have-been-but-won’t-be. Until, that is, his friend e-mailed him with a suggestion … to apply for an open columnist position for his school newspaper. The angle from which he should approach the column, she said, was as a gay male writing about sex and relationships. He applied, and surprise! Got the job! Now, he has the opportunity he had only hoped for, until he played the card up his sleeve … That’s right … The gay, gay card up his sleeve.
Example two: One of my classes this semester is an independent study. I had to petition my concentration advisor to get the class approved, as I was requesting it to fulfill two of my graduation requirements. I was a little nervous about making such requests. That is, until I met the advisor who would approve or deny my requests … The gay, male advisor. Score!
As soon as I walked into the office I felt an unspoken bond with this man — a connection that I thought I could build on more than a heterosexual male student could have. So I did. Again, I played the gay card. Damn right I did. And I got that shit approved.
These are just micro-examples though. What about in the grand scheme of life? Are such benefits conferred by sexual orientation? Of course!
Think about it. Professional workplaces that champion diversity might find a gay applicant more attractive than a straight one because he or she adds to an office dynamic. Celebrities, gay and straight alike, appeal to the gay community for continued endorsement (i.e., Ellen DeGeneres and Cher, respectively). Opportunities for such advantages, I believe, can be found (and exploited) throughout a homosexual’s lifetime.
I’m not suggesting that a homosexual excessively play upon the fact that he or she is gay — that he or she, instead of legitimately earning his or her college degree or career status, find gay loopholes that allow cheating the system. Let me proclaim this: Homosexuals don’t need to play the gay card. But we can. And there are times that we should.
Think about it: like all minorities, homosexuals get screwed in many aspects of life.
We can’t get married as simply (if at all) as heterosexuals. We get ridiculed walking down the street — in Miami, Ann Arbor — there’s potential anywhere. We are presumed to have at least one STD and to consume drugs incessantly. Family relationships are often difficult or unmaintainable.
All this being said, why shouldn’t we take advantage of any opportunity that our sexual orientation — that which in many cases robs us of equality — confers us such equality?
Thus, I hereby advocate the use, not the abuse, of the ace —or should I say the “gayce” — up every homosexual’s sleeve. Good luck, and play wisely.
Steve hopes for future benefits granted to him and other homosexuals based on their sexual orientation, including and especially free food in the Michigan Union Underground. If you are willing to offer such goodies, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.