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Gay Like Me

John Howard Griffin wanted to see what life was like as a black man. He darkened his skin, through a series of dyeing sessions. He wrote all of his experiences concerning how he was treated as a black man in a book called Black Like Me. I would recommend the book to anyone who hasn't yet read it.  It’s been a long time since I read the book, but I wanted to talk about something that really stuck out to me.

Before I talk about that, I wanted to mention an episode of Boy Meets World where Shawn and Cory have the idea of doing an experiment they called “Chick Like Me”, inspired by this book. Their idea was to dress up as women and see what it was like dating guys. Shawn realized that the way he treated girls was not as enjoyable to the girls as he thought--he didn’t like guys putting moves on him as fast as he put moves on girls. It was years ago when I first saw this episode, and I’ve thought about it a lot since.

I think a similar experiment could be tried by any straight person wondering what it is like to be gay. You might get a lot of empathy for gay people. You don’t even have to be gay, just pay attention at church, on the news, or in public, when you hear someone say something about gay people. Imagine that they are talking about you and see how you feel about that.

At any rate, the one thing from the book that still sticks in my mind even over a dozen years after I first read it is that when Griffin first joined the black community, he noticed that they rallied around each other and treated all others like good friends. He said that it kind of seemed like it was a way of compensating for how they were treated by white people--that they had to be kind to each other since white people were not kind to them.

I have noticed that the same phenomenon happens in the gay community. Some people say some really harsh things about gays. Some people bully gays really harshly. Of course, it was much, much worse a few decades ago than it is now. Fortunately, we are currently witnessing the downfall of socially-accepted homophobia. However, even now I still witness how gay people group together and support each other against all of the hateful or misinformed things that are said about us. It is actually quite encouraging to see this happen. It is as if you don’t need to have anything else in common--just to both be gay and then you can help each other out and be good friends.

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