Former BUCF Treasurer Daniel Cowdrill delivers his assessment in the University Newspaper on what it means to be gay and ‘conservative’ about it…Of the gay sub catagories that exist within the ‘gay community’ I tend to be described as ‘straight acting’. This means that I refuse to prance down Hurst street swinging my manbag screaming ‘I’m free!’, nor do I have any particular fondness for Starbucks, Ralph Lauren, Gin & Tonic, Waitrose, Nicky Clark, Desperate Housewives, or the Audi TT. Ergo, it’s obvious. I must be fundamentally insecure about my sexuality, crushed by the weight of suburbia, the Roman Catholic Church, Margaret Thatcher, and every other thinkable instrument of homosexual repression. In order to emancipate myself I must increase my ‘campness’ The logic being that surely the more expressive I am the more sexually secure I am? But this is wrong-headed. You may say that behaving like Alan Carr is who you are, but this is not the case. Being gay is not a package that comes with accessories like tight jeans, a pocket book of sexual innuendo, and a pink cow boy hat. All these things associated with gay men are a socially constructed stereotype that society and the gay community construct for their own mutual convenience. ‘Campness’ (for want of a better word) is tribal. Camp allows other camp men to know you’re gay, and the rest of society to know that you are too. Camp characteristics make it easy for yourself and everyone else to put you away in a neat box, where you can be accounted for, monitored, patronised and humiliated. This is not to charge gay people with the blame, it is merely to acknowledge their complicity in their own alienation. As far as society is concerned it is as much my job to be camp, as it is for a woman to stay in the kitchen. The Women’s Liberation movement was correct in observing that such stereotypes were the very chains of female repression. At least Woman’s Lib can be credited with moving society’s perception of women on a bit. The gay movement has done nothing but render their own suppression. And incidentally, its not just gay people who are repressed by stereotype. Their conformity is matched by the conformity of straight people. Maybe a group of straight blokes who are currently down the pub after going to the football, should question their horizons just as much as a group of camp gays should question theirs’. However, the fact that they rarely do, perpetuates their stereotypes and draws others in. By rejecting some forms of ‘campness’ you can assert your agency and move beyond the structural stereotype of yourself. And this isn’t necessarily denying yourself, for this would be to assume that your camp characteristics are genetic and unique to you. In fact, much of them are socially constructed in the form of inherited prejudices and acquired values. So why not unconstruct yourself? As for me, I am not ‘straight-acting’. This is an intellectually weak and abusive phrase that simultaneously suggests that I am inwardly insecure about my sexuality and outwardly in denial. In other words, my life is an act simply because I don’t conform to the societal stereotype of what a gay man is supposed to be. I think this is unfair and wrong. It’s not me who is acting.