Gaydar, or the ability to detect if another person is gay, is not a power exclusive to gay people, Robert says. "Straight people have their version of it, too," he explains. "It's that X-factor. There's this chemistry that goes between two people and something clicks in the eyes."
Carson complains that metrosexuals have thrown off his gaydar. "There are guys who have manicures and they're wearing designer clothes. I'll be in the airport, and I'll be looking at O, The Oprah Magazine waiting for my flight. A guy will come up to me in the store and say, 'Hey.' And I'm like, 'Hey,' and I'm thinking he's totally gay. ... Then he'll be like, 'My wife loves your show,' and I'm like, 'Foiled again!' I've done this, you know. I've created a monster!"
Oprah wants to know—why are some gay men flamboyant while others are not? "It's a spectrum just like everything," Billy says. "Flamboyant gay people get more of the attention, but we run the gamut."
What about gay men who have problems with flamboyant men? "I think that it's a self-hate issue that's brought on by society," Billy says. "You want to assimilate. ... The only thing that we want as human beings is to be accepted."
Feminine men are not necessarily gay, Carson adds. "Some straight guys are very feminine," he says. "Sometimes it just means that you're comfortable with your sexuality."
Dr. Downs says promiscuity is not unique to gay men—men in general are more sexually indiscriminate—but there is a reason why gay relationships statistically have a shorter tenure than straight relationships. "It's because of shame," Alan says. "It's that sense of knowing there's something about you that's unacceptable. ... It happens with all of us when we've been shamed about some significant part of ourselves, especially our sexuality."
Dr. Downs goes on to say that feelings of shame and inauthenticity often stem from a man's relationship with his father. "Imagine that's your role for a relationship with a man—a man who by definition is probably straight, who doesn't necessarily understand who you are and may be horrified at the fact [that you're gay]," he says. "That becomes your template then for future relationships. For many of us, it takes a long time to work through that so we can get past it and have a successful relationship."
Are gay men more creative than straight men?
Carson thinks so. "When you're gay as a child, you feel a certain sense of isolation," he says. "You don't have a whole lot of friends, and you're not playing dodgeball. You're daydreaming in your mind and being creative. I think maybe that's one reason why."
Dr. Downs disagrees. "I think it's a myth that gay men are more creative," he says. "It appears that way because so many of us have developed that creative side to sort of 'dress up' ourselves so that we can hide what we know about ourselves. ... I live in Santa Fe, and you'll find gay men living in mobile homes—that's not the stereotypical gay man who's got the designed beautiful house. They don't make it into the spotlight."
Grammy-winning musician Melissa Etheridge recently shared her experience growing up gay. "I remember crying one Christmas because my grandfather bought me a truck," she says. "I remember crying because I knew that it wasn't normal for girls to want a truck.
"No one talked about 'gay' in the '60s and '70s. I was in high school [when I realized] that I was this thing that I had heard in the girls' locker room: 'She's a lezzie.' I thought, 'Uh-oh, this a dirty horrible thing that I am.'"
Melissa came out to her parents after she went to college. "They went, 'Yeah, we know,'" Melissa remembers. "Then they said, 'Look, we don't understand it and we can't help you with it because we don't know anything about it—but as long as you're happy.' That's all that a kid needs to hear from their parents is, 'Hey, as long as you're happy, we support you.'"
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