By all accounts Nicholas Brown is a straight ally. Supports marriage equality, has gay roommates, and marches in pride parades. However, he discovered during an audition he doesn’t want to be perceived as gay.
The New York City actor and writer tells his story in the Atlantic. He attends an audition for an ‘AIDS awareness advertisement for Logo, Viacom’s gay-targeted network.’ When asked if kissing another man will pose any problems, Brown responds it won’t. That answer is a detour from the truth.
‘So it comes as a shock to me when I realize that, actually, if I am honest with myself, I’m not comfortable with kissing another man on camera,’ Brown writes. ‘I really don’t want to book this part. I don’t want people to think I’m gay. And I’m even more uncomfortable because that isn’t a thought that I want to have.’
This revelation shocks him and in the rest of the essay he struggles with his own fears and homophobia. He even takes Harvard University’s Project Implicit. The test ‘measure[s] your reaction time when you associate positive and negative concepts with different social groups.’ In other words, it offers a window to subconscious bigotry.
‘…My subconscious is essentially racist, agist, and homophobic. It is the backwater redneck of my brain,’ Brown writes.
He doesn’t explain the root of those biases, but offers an apology.
‘It seems important to acknowledge the depth and power of our biases, particularly at a time of year when many of us try to devote ourselves to being better people. There is something vicious in each of us. Depressing though that may seem, focusing on our flaws is a first necessary part of wanting to be better. The hope that we can be better, it seems to me, deserves great celebration.’