August 1997
s m u g
three dollar bill
by Willie Love


I'm not Your Sister, Sister

Out in the Universe, there seems to be the feeling that gay men think it's funny if you call them sister. Maybe I missed a meeting, but this is one of those little cultural icons that doesn't sit well with me. To be honest, and I realize that this smacks of some sort of cosmic injustice, I don't really mind when an old queen calls me sister, because I figure they can't help it. However, everyone else - well, it's just not okay anymore.

I asked a few of my het and gay female friends why they felt compelled to indulge their bizarre need to call gay men sister in conversation, and it seems they all gave an answer similar to the fact that they believe that calling a gay man sister implies the sentiment "I know you're gay and it's cool with me, see, I get what you being gay is about." This couldn't be farther from the message it actually conveys to me, personally, because all I hear is "I know you're gay and I think that totally strips you of any masculinity you might have" which in effect leaves me, in their eyes, not a gay man, but a straight woman.

To me, that seems more than a little silly.


For those of you who think that sounds a little petty, picture the inverse. Lesbian women beginning to call each other "brother." The image, although I can hear you mumbling something under your breath about some bull dyke you saw at the State Fair reminding you of your brother, is antithetical to the whole "for and by and with women" stance the lesbian community has taken. So - why belittle their sisterhood by trying to include the sweaty hairy likes of me?


My new boyfriend, and I use the term loosely because he still won't tell me the last four digits of his phone number, told me "Willie, you'd make a better lesbian than you do fag." Considering we had just spent the better part of the afternoon in bed, I found this disturbing on a number of levels, but further investigation meant he was talking about my attitude.

"Willie, you just don't get it, do you?" he asked me. "I have five sisters," he went on, "and when I told them I was gay they kept asking 'you still like us, right?' I was totally puzzled. I mean, there are really specific laws about how important it is not to want to have sex with your sisters. Then I realized, they were just worried about me not needing them anymore, about having nothing in common with them."

"Did they say the thing about how you could go look for guys together now?"

"Willie, I believe that's in the 'So Your Brother is Gay' pamphlet they hand out in schools."


So, it made sense - for a minute - until I decided that most women's self esteem couldn't be that fragile that they had to view me as a sister to believe that my friendship for them was sincere. On the contrary, the love I feel for my female friends is far more brotherly than sisterly. I never have the urge to have them come over so we can give each other makeovers and bitch about mom, I mostly just want to hang out with them and share different perspectives on things and there's still a little part of me that clings to the societal paradigm where I feel like they should call me when they need something heavy moved or shelves installed. I guess that shows exactly the limits of my perspective, in that I still believe there are subtle differences between the masculine and feminine when it comes to the division of labor. But after carrying yet another futon up 6 flights of stairs, I don't really want anyone calling me sister, and interfering with the rush of testosterone that comes with displaying my he-man strength.

Let me say it again in case the people in the back didn't hear me. I am not your sister. I'm not your brother either, I'm just your friend. And as far as most of you go, I'm not even that, I'm just that guy who writes this column. You should be glad too because if I was your sister, mom would have liked me best.



in the junk drawer:

July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997

and such
and such

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