Putting Ladyboys Into Perspective
Stickman just posted my co-authored submission with the kind gentleman who calls himself Tommaso. In that submission, I called ‘em like I see ‘em with regard to gays and ladyboys, and no doubt offended a few folks. Thanks to Brother Stickman for not censuring the submission. This is not my first weigh-in on the subject of ladyboys, and my submission Ladyboy Denial Syndrome speaks for itself. I still subscribe 100% to what I wrote there, and in fact now more than ever.
Stickman’s comment at the tail end of the Tommaso / Caveman submission inspired this one. In his comments, Stickman made the admittedly light-hearted comment that I should try going into a ladyboy bar in my next trip to Thailand and that possibly I would warm up to ladyboys in some way. The gist of his comments seems to indicate that my warming up to them is in some way possible. He goes on to mention that he himself has softened his attitude on ladyboys, and seems to view them as more “normal” than he used to, especially the ones to be found off the beaten track.
My reply? First off, there is no way in hell I’ll be visiting any ladyboy bar, and Stickman knows that quite well, so his comment was tongue in cheek. Stickman is often very subtle, and that is one difference between us. The Caveman is not talented at nuance. When you read what I write, there’s never a need to read between the lines for the most part. Another example of Stickman’s playful comments was the Stickman comment at the tail end of one of my massage submissions a month ago where I stated that I’d volunteered for a balls massage to EZ Massage. He commented that I was volunteering for the ladies to stick their finger up my ass and massage my prostate. An email later, the admin for the company told me that a balls massage was, in fact, a massage of the balls and penis, and NOT anything else.
But forget about me: Stickman has evidently softened his own attitude toward the creatures known as ladyboys. Since I respect his opinions and views, as they almost always mirror my own to a rather remarkable degree, they deserve to be directly and respectfully addressed. How does a reputable Western guy like Stickman grow comfortable with ladyboys? I understand that Thais accept ladyboys much more readily than Westerners, as they are interwoven into the culture, but Stick seems to be going native.
Just how does such an attitude adjustment come about in the first place?
Let me offer a somewhat analogous situation from personal experience. It’s a little bit of a stretch, but at the end there is a connection. No doubt many Stickman readers have heard the term Tell a lie long enough and often enough, and it will become the truth. Bill Clinton proved this beyond a doubt. He was and is the King of all Liars, but is still hugely popular today, and remains highly influential despite the fact that he disgraced our nation by his lies and undignified actions. But forget about Clinton: I have a more personal yarn to relate that shows just how people's attitudes can be changed even about the wackiest things imaginable, given enough time, and even in the face of something they know or should know is incredibly wrong or preposterous.
It’s been more than 20 years. I worked with a bunch of, shall we say, rowdy guys who after every weekend, would return to work on Monday morning and swap stories in the workplace about how they all got laid, drunk, or whatever. In order to maintain my personal dignity, I made the decision NOT to engage in such undignified banter in the workplace, and this despite the fact that I was, in reality and by my actual behavior outside the workplace, not much different than they were. Sure, I’d shoot the shit with personal friends of mine outside the workplace, but had the judgment and discretion to know that sharing intimate personal details with superiors of mine in the workplace would ultimately make me lose their respect. I refused steadfastly to compromise myself and so I formulated an outlandish long-term plan. How did I handle the situation? Answer: I concocted a most eccentric but enduring lie, and reported it to all and sundry in a sober and straight-faced fashion. I told them that I did not believe in pre-marital sex because I was a devout Catholic, and that pre-marital sex was against the Pope’s teachings. (Keep in mind I’m also a hard-core atheist). The first time I informed them of this, it drew laughs all around. Not one single person believed me. They found it interesting that I delivered the information with a completely straight face and did not waver. Monday morning followed Monday morning, and weeks turned into months. They would never fail to share their own stories about going out gallivanting, drinking, and getting laid, and would likewise never fail to ask Caveman, “OK Brother, so did you get laid this weekend or what?” I remember one particular long weekend where I had gone down to Daytona Beach, Florida, and all my workmates expected me to break down and admit to them that my statements about being a devout Catholic were indeed a big fašade, and I was in reality the whole time getting my brains boffed out. But every single time, I handed the situation calmly and coolly, telling them the same story about being a devout Catholic and following the Pope’s teachings. It took about 6 months, and it finally occurred. A metamorphosis had taken place. One of my superiors began to refer to me as a “monk”. They took it all in....hook, line, and sinker. They really believed I was a virgin. At that particular time, the truth of the matter was that I had bedded countless women. Despite this, and despite the fact that they had no right to really believe my outlandish claims to complete celibacy, it eventually became “normal” for them to think about me this way. I would even go to lengths to be seen by them, on my free time and breaks, reading the bible! It was all a great, big f*****g hoax, carefully crafted and carried on at great lengths for a particular purpose: to increase the level of respect I commanded in the workplace, and steadfastly refuse to compromise my reputation.
Moral of the story: the completely unbelievable became not only believable, but in their minds: FACT. They probably, to this day, tell the story of Caveman the Monk to their buddies. If only they knew.
Maybe you see where this is going. For those who are not in denial about ladyboys and are also not gay, can you remember the first time you went to Thailand and saw a ladyboy? Can you remember the sensation it caused you, possibly tightening your stomach muscles in revulsion? Can you remember possibly being very nervous about the prospect of making eye contact with one of the creatures? But then what happened? You visited a 2nd time, then a 3rd time, then a 4th time.......etc. The outlandish eventually became the norm.......well, for many, I’m sure it did (but not for me). The level of acceptance in Thai society for this freakish phenomenon probably adds to your own increasing level of acceptance of the spectacle.
For me, I always succeed in snapping myself back to reality on the topic. I cannot share any type of acceptance for ladyboys and what they represent any more than I can a person who wipes feces on their face prior to walking out the door every day.
Suppose you were in a culture where it was generally accepted, maybe for some religious reason, to rub your morning crap all over your face prior to going out to tackle the day. Impossible, you say? Is it really? How much more outlandish is this than a man who dresses himself as a woman? For those who are completely at home with ladyboys and are really not gay (do not have sex with them), how do you know that you could not achieve a level of comfort in a scenario, continued over a period of YEARS, where a segment of the population literally walked out of the house with shit rubbed all over themselves? I submit to you that those who are comfortable with ladyboys could become comfortable with just about anything. You are far more tolerant than the Caveman. I admit that this is a matter of personal taste, but I am a conservative at heart, straight-laced, straight-shooting, open, honest, direct, and orthodox in most matters (but not all). Most of all, I believe in and subscribe in that which is natural. In fact, that’s the best word I can come up with to describe what I’m all about: that which is natural. Ladyboys are simply unnatural. I could never envision myself accepting them. Buck what’s natural and you make your own life more difficult. It’s like pushing a boulder up a hill.
There are many ways people rebel against what I would consider to be “normal”. No matter what the level of acceptance even in my own culture, a perfect example of a habit that truly offends me, even possibly as much as the concept of a ladyboy, is the tasteless and classless phenomenon of the sagging pants. Can you remember how ridiculous and pathetic is looked when you first saw a guy with his pants falling down? Still to this day, it disgusts me to no end. I immediately lose respect for any person that wears his pants in such a fashion and believe the planet would be far better off if such persons were erased from the human population.
As another analogous situation, suppose you were in a culture with the roles reversed from ladyboys? This time, instead of men parading as women, suppose there was a widespread phenomenon of women who dressed and even paraded as men. Let’s assume they even go out of their way to defy identification like many or even most ladyboys do. They cut their hair short (like many Western women do anyway), take hormones to grow chest and even facial hair, lift weights, and even stuff socks or other garments down their pants to make it appear that they are carrying a penis. Although I don’t think it’s surgically possible, let’s hypothesize further that they could acquire a surgically attached penis. What would be your thoughts on such beings? Would this be acceptable to you? Could you actually stomach being in the same room with such an individual? Would you consider them as “normal” as many people consider ladyboys?
Despite the fact that I stir the pot with vigor, the fact is that on some level, I actually feel sorry for ladyboys. They are suffering from serious psychological problems for sure. In addition to being gay, their reaction to their own feelings makes their lives still more difficult. I mean, if I were personally gay, I can’t conceive of becoming any kind of trans-gender individual. The fact is that it’s just one more step in violation of what nature intended.
I was fortunate to be brought up by open-minded parents. I remember as a youngster when we would visit friends of my parents who happened to be a gay couple. They were funny, charming and just decent sorts. From a young age I was comfortable in the company of gay guys which in retrospect was a little unusual because back then my homeland was socially conservative and I gay guys faced the problem of macho types who liked to pick on them.
In Thailand I have worked with many gay guys and a couple are good friends to this day. I have enjoyed nights out with them - nights out where I was the only straight guy in the group. And yes, once I even went to a gay bar with them - not a pay for play venue - a venue where 90%+ of the customers were gay guys. It wasn't to my taste at all and I excused myself after the first drink but hey, if they like it then good on them.
I put my total acceptance of gay guys down to a combination of the way I was brought up and a willingness to keep an open mind. Gay guys pose no issue whatsoever for me.
As far as ladyboys go, I used to feel unsettled being anywhere near them in my early years in Thailand. Their reputation (which for ladyboys parading on Suhkumvit particularly was very bad in the past and is not much better now), their aggression and the fact that I really did not know what to make of them made me feel a little unnerved. By the time I wrote the column "An Afternoon With Thai Ladyboys" which was based on a couple of hours in the company of a bunch of ladyboys who I chatted openly and frankly with, I had come to realise that not all ladyboys are aggressive, not all are thieves and some of them are, well, just different from most. Many are articulate and if you are interested in their story and are not judgmental, they are willing to be remarkably frank with you.
In summary, I reckon gay guys and ladyboys are free to live their lives as they wish, just as you and I are!
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