This week I want to pay small homage to my roommates, friends and a mildly interesting case study that examines why being authentic and overcoming stereotypes often go hand in hand.
Ending up with a stereotypically masculine “guys’ guy”-type roommate was a large fear of mine going into freshman year. Television and movies had taught me that this type of individual was to be avoided on the basis of also avoiding bullying and homophobia. As a young gay kid in the closet invariably would be, I was terrified that I wouldn’t get along with the prototypical hyper-masculine bro-types that sometimes seem to make this school their mecca. Fast forward two years to my current living situation, and I can say that cohabitating with a group of five of them has taught me a thing or two about how to bring my own special brand of sexual enlightenment to a group of otherwise heteronormatively inclined dudes who may never have given a passing thought to the fluidity of sexuality, the importance of male love in ancient Rome or any other inane ideas I throw at them. This social experiment of sorts I’ve been silently conducting has culminated not only in the formation of a tight-knit and tolerant group, but also a more sexually aware and, dare I say, politically-savvy group of friends who care deeply for one another. I like to think that I’m at least 75 percent responsible for this result but, admittedly, I made that number up.
What’s that, you ask? What’s the secret to my seeming success in eradicating sexual and social stereotypes? Why, I’m glad you asked, dear reader. My secret — and here’s where it gets really complicated — was that I treated them all like I would treat any other group of friends: like people I want to get to know. Confused? Keep reading.
By virtue of living together, we naturally spent a fair bit of time together. And in that time, we debated issues of sex, sexuality, gender, politics and culture, you name it. We held parties and watched movies together; we went on hiking trips and to fancy restaurants. I even gave them an informational session on how gay sex works. I got to know these guys, and they got to know me. So I guess that’s the simple secret to our friendship. Shocking isn’t it?
So over the course of this admittedly boring and rather mundane anecdote, we come to the fairly obvious conclusion that those popular social models and the stereotypes that society presents us with, are too often false. This group of men that I had secretly been afraid of has turned into a set of the best friends I have ever known. My fear surrounding their masculinity and whether that would be a barrier to our friendship was not grounded in reality but rather in a set of preconceived notions handed to me by (for lack of a better word) “society.” So the next time you find yourself considering new friends, whether it’s that frat bro in your section, the sorority girl in your CLAS class or the stoner down the hall, they all have their own story to tell, and I’m sure you might like to hear it.
This message has been approved by the bros of Luc Gendrot.