We all fall into stereotype traps. Some people allow such trappings to define their life and the lives of everyone they come in contact with. While others do it and immediately catch themselves.
Personally, I think if you have any sort of sense of humor, you see the value that lies in just the right amount of sensitivity coupled with good timing. And you get that humor can be the best way to move past real deep seated stereotypes while shedding light on how dangerous too much political correctness can be. With all things, though, there must be a balance.
My favorite type of stereotypes, though, are when people think they are calling you out for stereotyping but in fact, they are the ones stereotyping you. Let me share a couple of examples…
Mr. Universe is an imposing force. He’s tall…broad shoulders…lots of muscles…and a deep, loud voice. He’s a man’s man, without question. To see him, several stereotypes run through your head. Heck, when we met for our first date I remember thinking…”There’s no way he’d fit in my Mini.” “I wonder if he can even spell Mini?” “Oh great, a meat head. What on Earth are we going to talk about?” “I write a blog…wonder if he reads…” “He will probably hate all my gay friends.”
I was so convinced that I had him figured out that I flat out asked him if was gay friendly about 45 minutes into the first date. To my shock and relief, he was just as pro-gay as I was. He grew up partying and dancing in the gay clubs…because they play all the coolest dance tunes (#factnotjudging). His longest best friend is also a fabulous gay man. Win-win-win!!
I now know that Mr. Universe is about as far from the stereotype of his exterior you can get…and I love him for that. But other people that don’t know him like I do are perplexed when we walk into the gay bar across the street (our favorite local haunt thanks to their amazing food and friendly staff) and he jokingly says “Why isn’t the football game on? Is this a gay bar!?!”
The staff knows he’s joking and always turns on the game but there’s usually at least one person that has to suggest that this probably isn’t a bar we should be at. They immediately assume that despite the fact that we walked into what is soooooo obviously a gay bar that he couldn’t be gay-friendly.
As we sat at another bar watching a game (we don’t have cable so it’s not possible to watch Monday Night Football at home), chatting with a fellow patron, and sharing stories about “our gays” (a term we use with complete affection, kinda like saying “my besties”), we were rudely interrupted by another man who accused us of not being gay friendly. In doing so he shared that as a downtown resident it’s imperative to be accepting…thanks, we couldn’t agree more. He said he lives across from the gay bars and never has any problems with “people”. Um, so do we…thanks for asking.
As he got more agitated, I asked him if he could tell me what had been said to make him think Mr. Universe wasn’t pro-gay? He admitted he couldn’t pinpoint any one thing. It was more of “a feeling” he had. After trying to hone in on the real issue, I finally asked if it might have to do with his size and some stereotypes of his own? He reluctantly admitted that it probably did.
I get it. I’d done the same to him. I think it happens ALOT to him. It’s ironic that someone that is so incredibly accepting and supportive of the gay community is regularly bashed by people that are probably gay themselves because they stereotype him. Nothing like stereotyping stereotypes….