I’ve had this reaction almost every time I try to talk to gay people or fit into the gay scene, which is where the majority of my possible significant-if-not-romantic relationships are probably going to happen. It’s never been a reaction to me, but every time it is spoken, I cringe at defining myself, at coming out as aromantic.
It’s the idea that romantic relationships can justify you. Romantic relationships let you know that you’re a Good Gay.
I don’t think this myth comes directly from wider society. I think it’s a natural, and, in some ways, healthy, counterbalance against the idea of gay men as promiscuous, which was some part stereotype, some part reaction to that stereotype. Men of my generation and social class in the more metropolitan bits of Britain were largely raised with the confidence that it’s ok to be gay, and, after differing but not major amounts of teenage discomfort, ended up going on and doing whatever it is that normal people do, which is serial monogamy and vague wimpiness (totally not biased).
Luckily for me, my university LGBT seems to have fairly directly absorbed some of the ‘Den of Lost Souls’ feel of the old movement. And, I should specify, I don’t think that the normalised approach is any worse than the outsider approach. It probably works better for the majority of individuals. I pity the gay man looking for a typical monogamous romantic relationship in a community which doesn’t make space for such relationships.
But sex is more important for me than (traditional) romance. I’m on that side of the ratio. You know, the evil side. It doesn’t matter that sex is negligibly important to me, that’s still more important than romance, which is somewhere between null importance and a genuine desire to avoid. And sometimes, I can’t help feeling like the old, bad gay. Uncivilised by traditional relationships. Something for other people to be ashamed of.