By Lawrence Mashiyane
It is February and, for those who care for such things as Valentine's Day, it is the month of Love. Some scurried throughout January to get someone 'special' and others are getting on the love train before the 14th. At the end of search, many will be on dates on the 14th and many will be having sex; others will probably be watching TV, but we are not interested in them for now (and clearly love isn't either). The interest is in the ones who will be on dates and/or having a shag. The interest is in what happens after Valentine's Day. After Valentine's Day, how long until the romance fizzles out and turns into a memory or worse, a one night stand? You're probably thinking not long and if you are then it means you know about the cloud that hovers over the gay community; our relationships do not last. Of course this stereotype or stigma does not apply to everyone in the gay community but, as I always say, stereotypes do not come from out of nowhere. They are not made up. Stereotypes are that big cloud of black smoke that let every one know there's a fire. It does not mean an entire building is burning, but it does mean a floor or two could be.
For any relationship to last, one thing is important and that one thing comes before love, trust and commitment/faithfulness. That one thing is compatibility. The problem with the gay community is that compatibility has been cut down to two simple things; sex role and behaviour/gender expression. "Are you top, bottom or versatile?" They ask. "Are you 'straight' acting or feminine?" Once those two questions are asked and the answers are the desired, everything is good to go! But truth is, it is not good to go. Not at all! I am not saying that those things are not important (although how greatly important is up for debate), I am saying that there is more to find out beyond those two. There is a lack of compatibility in Gay relationships and it is usually because people have two things in mind: Society and Sex.
Whether a guy is effeminate or not is usually a concern with society; especially if one is in the closet. Sometimes it is preference but also, some people prefer to be with more masculine or 'straight acting' guys because it is a lot less obvious and covert. When two guys walk down the street, looking all heterosexual, no one really thinks "oh look, there goes a gay couple" but the concern is if a guy walks with another guy who has a twist in his hips, a twang in his voice and speaks with swinging hands; it all looks too obvious. The feminine guy draws too much attention, the two guys walking together now stick out like a sore thumb. Even if some guys are 'open' and out of the closet, the still remain (if I can say) conservative. They do not want to put society on edge, draw the attention of homophobes and they believe that their sexuality is no body's business. A fear for being judged for being gay still exists.
The second concern is Sex. The "are you top, bottom or versatile question?" simply put is, "are we going to be able to fuck or not?" I reject any other interpretation, it simply amounts to that.
That question amounts to nothing else but sex and it's not much of a buildup. Once sex is imperative for a relationship to happen, a relationship is unlikely to happen and that's because sex is like veil. Before the sex, you think you can see the person’s face but it is all blurred by the veil. Once the sex is done, it is like the veil has been removed and suddenly the person you thought you wanted to date becomes someone you just had sex with. That is because the haze and illusion of infatuation disappears when the craving of having sex with this new person has been fulfilled. There is a confusion between wondering what someone is like in bed and having a crush on a person. Curiosity is a powerful thing, it can easily emulate infatuation but curiosity fades once the mystery has been solved. Infatuation grows and soon becomes what most of us want; love.
The two concerns both have two things in common; they are both more about one's self than the person one is trying to be in a relationship with. Worrying about a person's gender expression or behaviour shows that one is more concerned with his image and what people think of his sexuality. Worrying about sex role shows that one is concerned about whether his sexual cravings/needs will be fulfilled or not. As long as there is a fixation on one's self, the chance to get to know the other party becomes difficult but when it does happen, one finds that he finds the other party too boring or that the other party is too loud, too messy, too childish, not driven enough, not ambitious enough. By then it is too late, sex has been had, and the relationship burns out quickly because one realises there is no compatibility with the other. Of course this assumes that everyone wants a serious relationship; which is not true of course. Some people just want to have no strings attached sex, someone people do not want to be in serious relationships but want the sexual benefits of being in one and some people are not gunning for marriage and don't care if relationships do not go over sex months. However, for those who do want serious relationships, perhaps what you consider for compatibility needs to checked.
Evidently, considering sex role and behavioural patterns is not all there is to compatibility. There is a lot more to tick off the list and these vary from person to person. However, there are facets to compatibility I would say are universal and they are:
1. You need to be able to talk to the person you want to date. If you can't hold a 30 minute conversation on a date, I do not see how you will make 30 years of marriage.
2. You have to enjoy each other's company, even with sex out of the picture.
3. You need a shared interest. It helps to have one or more things in common.
There are of course more facets to consider that may be important to individuals such as age, religion, occupation and so forth but if those three above are ticked, then a basis for a relationship can be established. It is then that one can now wonder about sex role and so forth because it is folly to think that it does not matter at all. At the end of the day, the point to get to is that the person you date should be your type in more ways than just sex role. And while masculinity/femininity may be a preference, some of us need to give society the middle finger and stop denying ourselves a sexy ‘fem’ because of what people might say or think.
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