I’m here. I’m queer. I’m already pretty used to it.
See, in an attempt to sound older and wiser, let me tell you a story. Back in the day, the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I had a secret to tell my ma. I sat her down one afternoon and said, “Ma, I gotta tell you something.”
“Okay, what is it?”
I said, “Ma, I think I’m gay.”
“Well, how do you know?”
Being the ever-classy gentleman, my response went a little something like, ‘Well, I think when you’re into dudes, it’s called being gay.”
That’s the extent of my “tragic” coming-out story. My family and I have never been close and we’re Catholic, so we never talk about anything unpleasant, so my sexuality was never really brought up again. People have always questioned me about growing up like that. My response has always been, “Whether I’m sleeping with guys or I’m sleeping with women, I’m still not gonna tell my parents about what I do in the bedroom.” Are my parents winning any PFLAG awards? Nah, but they could’ve been much worse.
After doing the obligatory coming-out thing I’d seen in piece-of-crap indie movies about the struggles of sexuality, I pretty much decided that I was my own man. My own gay man. See, for those of you that don’t know, the year or two after coming out is, more than likely, gonna be the gayest year of your life. I did it all. Midnight showings of Rocky Horror with friends. Trying to casually slip words like “fabulous” and “divine” into my everyday vernacular. Talking way too many life lessons from Jack from Will & Grace. Eventually, for lack of a better term, I got all of that “gay stuff” outta my system. Okay, that might’ve come out more offensive than I intended… what I mean to say is, I was finally done living a lie.
When you’re born, you are born into a heteronormative society that automatically assumes “boy meets girl.” When you come out, you buck that tradition, but where do you go from there? Most of us turn to media representations. Now, at the risk of sounding geriatric, things have changed since I came out over a decade ago. Back then, our “role models” were… Jack from Will & Grace, pretty much. This leads to the second phase of the lie. You find yourself acting like Jack because it’s an “appropriately” asexual classification of homosexuality. You’re fulfilling your end of the bargain by being gay, while not living up to the “sex” part of homosexuality and being sufficiently neutered for the heterosexual public.
But I don’t like that narrative either. Eventually, you learn to stop being so self-conscious and define your sexuality in your own terms. Well, I guess that’s if you’re lucky. Some people don’t grow out of the flamboyant stage. Hell, some people are just born flamboyant, and that’s cool too. Do your own thing.
Well, that little self-empowering message comes with a caveat. Do your own thing… but be prepared to get hell for it.
See, the gay community has this grand illusion that they want equality for all. That’s a message I can get behind. But it’s time for men and women in the GLBT community to start practicing what they preach. All people may be created equal, but in the gay community, not all are treated as equal. One time, at a Pride parade no less, some guy yelled at me that I wasn’t “gay enough.” Well, I mean, I’m a guy… who sleeps with guys. Isn’t that the criteria for being gay? I wasn’t aware we were on a sliding scale.
I’m not a self-loathing gay. I don’t vomit a one-man pride parade when I open my mouth to speak, but I also don’t deny who I am. If my sexuality is pertinent to the conversation (i.e. if a girl is flirting with me, I try to save her the embarrassment) I’ll gladly bring it up. But I don’t think it should be my defining trait.
This is a difficult concept in the GLBT community. Far too many folks are of the mindset that, if I’m not “loud and proud,” I must be ashamed. Well, what about us folks that aren’t loud and proud about anything? I’m a pretty quiet person (although you’d never be able to tell from here) until you get to know me.
And so this whole fallacy of “life and let live” continues, until you dare defy someone else’s definition of being gay. Then, there’s hell to pay.