When I came out to my dad (about three years ago), one of the things he said to me was that he would not have taken the news as well if it had come from one of my brothers.
I didn't say anything at the time, but since then I think about that statement from time to time.
My dad was raised in a highly patriarchal, conservative Christian family. And when I came out to him, he was raising his stepdaughters in the same environment. So, in giving him the benefit of the doubt, I can try and justify to myself that what he meant by that comment had to do with pride of sons and carrying on the family name and all that kind of thing.
But I know it's not true.
What really emerged in that comment from my father was a testament to this dramatic disparity in the perceptions of same-sex relationships in our society, most notably brought on by the gross glamorized sexualization of lesbians thanks to the porn industry.
Society has made lesbians sexy. Guys want to watch lesbians or "turn them" or join in or whatever, making lesbianism more acceptable than male homosexuality.
It was more okay for my dad that I cam out versus either of my brothers because lesbians are hot and gay guys are gross.
Straight, white, cis male privilege at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.
What it comes down to is that, in our society, straight cis males have determined the "norm" for what is sexually acceptable. Since these men are sexually aroused by women (and more so by women with other women), lesbians are hot. But because these men are not only not aroused but often disgusted by gay men, the result is that homosexual males are not acceptable in society. Gay guys are gross, according to the heteronormative perspective.
So in that one comment, which my dad really intended as a twisted way of showing his support for me coming out to him (read: "I'm not disowning you. But things would be different if you were a boy"), the whole of society was encapsulated.
I was more acceptable because I am a woman. Well, because I am a sexualized object.
It's infuriating, really, to know that the only basis for this acceptance is the sexualization of lesbians for the gratification of straight men. It has nothing to do with who I am as a lesbian, or the desire for equality in society. Instead, it's just that society says lesbians are hot. I, as a sexual object, am acceptable.
But the moment you focus on the humanity of lesbians, we're back to it being sinful and unacceptable. And since men can't objectify other men's bodies the way they do women's bodies, gay men are unacceptable under all circumstances.
And, unfortunately, as long as we live in a society in which women are continually sexualized and objectified, this won't change. It's not about the people who happen to be lesbians, it's about the bodies and what they do with other (female) bodies in their intimate relationships.
Because if I had been a son, I probably would have been disowned in that first conversation.