Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Musings about Identities

When I was a child, I grew up on Enid Blyton's Famous Five books. One of the Famous Five was George... actually named Georgina. But she was a thorough tom-boy and refused any other name but George.

Needless to say, George was my hero. Her cousin Anne, was a mouselike but smart quiet girl. I guess I always wanted to marry Anne, but be George.

I recognize now that my desperate (and boy, did it feel desperate) need to have such a hero in my life was due to a number of factors. One, I was a tom-boy and living in Singapore in the 70's, there really weren't too many role models to choose from. Secondly, I needed someone to validate my anomaly of an existence.

I still honestly believe that I had no choice in being gay. However, I do recognize that part of my embrace towards gaydom is due to my thorough rejection of society's gender values. I did not want to cook. I did not want to clean. Girls were the servants, boys the served. And I wanted to be served.

Nowadays, I look at girls with amazement. Straight girls, gay girls, a lot participating in sports. Girls who are proud of their voices and identities. And I wonder, had I grown up in today's environment, would I still be gay.

Well, considering no man has EVER made me fantasize about making love before, and plenty of women have, I would say that no, even in today's more nurturing environment towards girls, I'd still be gay.

The difference is, I wouldn't have been so desperate to.

The lines of gender were so... absolute back then. It was that absolutism I chafed against. I hated that I was expected to learn to sew, to knit. My family soon accepted my rigidity about roles. When my uncle painted the exterior of our house, I rushed out there to help him. None of his three children bothered to help, nor did my sister. I never knew how my uncle felt about my helping him out, but I just knew that at that moment, I relaxed. I didn't have to fight anymore for a while.

Oh, a realization hit me. Perhaps it's because I defined my identity as anti-others and framed it in such an absolute way that whenever my sister picks up a hammer in front of me, I visibly jolt. My sister is actually very good with wood and construction, probably much better than I am. It was just jarring to have the roles reversed.

Filed under Scary Gay Stuff and Reveries & Paranoias


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