You know the whole thing of Dykes on Bikes… yeah well, I’m that dyke. And although I would be on the bike even if I was ramrod straight, somehow, I have been cast into the stereotype by virtue of being gay. Damn. Whatever scope there was for being ultra cool is now floating in a pool of predictability. This is despite the fact that I don’t dress for the part – no leather jacket, no flashy helmet, no shiny poloroids, no boots spelling my name in bright red. Frankly it’s too bloody hot where I live for such indulgences and so a T and shorts with sloppy crocs is as good as it gets. I thought of getting a tattoo on my arm but I need solid inspiration because I’m a wuss when it comes to needles.Of course if I had the tattoo, that would have sealed my gay stereotype… which personally I don’t care about, but given that I never spoke about my men (yes, that time existed too), I don’t see why I need to shout from the rooftops about liking zee weemen.
When I first started riding, I had guys who would chase me on their bikes, slow down, race… they thought I was a cool toy they could play with until our paths diverted. Of course, in all my earnestness to be a good rider, I would slow down, giving them ample opportunity to ride alongside and pass inaudible and incomprehensible comments – the first because you cant really hear anything above the thump-a-thump of an Enfield and the second because I barely understand Tamil. But then either they would tire or I would turn off the road and go my way. Now it’s a different story. I chase, I slow down, I race. And sometimes, I win.
The first time I posted a pic of me on my bike, I got so many comments but what stands clearly is “that is so gay”. Why? Those guys who chased me didn’t think so… so why? That’s when I realised that all those who were gay themselves or who knew I was gay were the ones who thought I was following the stereotype. For the rest though, I was adventurous for riding anything at all, brave for riding a bullet, suicidal for riding cross country in the thick of summer or just simply, a blinking mad rockstar.
So, the point of this piece, other than to shamelessly boast of my riding accomplishments, is that when we hear all this talk about stereotypes that gay men and women get cast into time and time again, it is possible that much of that labelling originates from our own community. Sometimes we construct our own ghettos which straight people cant or shouldn’t get into. We caricature ourselves at times. We play the part depicting characters who have originated in our own minds. I’m not going to be so daft as to make a sweeping generalisation and say this applies to all gay people but part of this certainly holds true and the reaction to my poor bike is evidence of it. This has simply brought something to light on a very minute and personal level and I’m putting it out there so that the next time we grumble about how stupid the straight world is about making us into a clichéd bunch, we could also reflect to see if we have unconsciously contributed to that in some way.
As for me, I don’t have the faintest interest in stereotypes. But I love my bike, I love riding, and some day I’m going to get that darn tattoo.