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TV/Media Commentary and Societal Insights. With a Beard.
I’ve been “officially” out of the closet for a little over 9 months now, and while at first I was just kind of “meh” about it all, after getting out of the comfortable college atmosphere and thrown into the world of working 9-5 and still living with my parents (who don’t know I’m gay) I’ve started to make some observations. Nothing profound or monumental, just logical conclusions about where my life is headed.
Let me put this out there–I’m proud to be who I am and all that, and I don’t hold any malice towards what life has handed to me at all. I also figure that once I settle down and actually do the “man having relationship with man” thing, any semblance of insecurities will continue to die down. However, there are things that will occasionally pop up in my brain and make me realize “Holy shit, this kind of sucks hard sometimes.” And thus, regardless of scientific evidence, my belief that homosexuality could not be solely choice comes from the idea that I sure as hell wouldn’t have chosen it.
Before you jump to conclusions about that statement, read on to see my explanations laid out in a way that in-no-way-whatsoever resembles a Cracked.com article that I in-no-way want to write for one day.
First of all, in my own ideal relationship, I’d want both of us to wear the pants. I like dudes who are dudes, because they are dudes. But I also want to be a dude myself, because hell, being a man is just awesome. You can fart, grow a beard, pee standing up, and go all day without a shirt playing video games and drinking beer and eating beef jerky and all people do is think you’re fucking manly. I like that about men and I like that about me, so obviously I’m not looking for a guy that’s just a carbon copy of a woman but with a dick and (probably) not boobs.
The thing is, though, when it comes to this man-on-man thing where we’re both totally manly men, unless I just haven’t discovered the Secret Manual to All Things Gay–which is actually a plausible theory–I don’t know any overarching societal conventions to follow.
Oh…there it is.
I don’t usually pay close attention to the inner workings of “gay culture” aside from important political things and a few key words that help me look up good porn (like any good man, straight or otherwise) so conventions that more experienced people might be aware of go over my head, and all I have knowledge of is what you see in movies. Essentially, I just don’t know how to date in this kind of relationship.
This first occurred to me when I went on my first date with a guy just a month or so ago…and realized I had no idea who was paying for the check, or if we should just split it. In the movies, the chivalrous guy pays for the check, unless the woman specifically says she’s too progressive for that and takes the check, impressing the guy and making him notice the first thing that isn’t her boobs the entire night. Hell, even feminists apparently think men should still offer to pay first whether they’ve gone dutch or not, if only because men still generally make higher wages.
Sure…NOW chivalry is okay…
That’s all well and good, but I doubt my date and I are going to compare our yearly salaries. In my case, after stumbling over answering the question, the other (more experienced) guy offered to pay it, leading to me feeling guilty and the entire situation being awkward. It didn’t destroy the date or anything (though I haven’t been out with him since) but it’s still an avoidable thing that just hadn’t occurred to me, and thus I was blindsided when it happened.
But even from there, in any normal dating situations–who asks out whom? Who picks the other person up? Who proposes? Should we wait until gay marriage is allowed in our state, or bite the bullet and get a civil union, or travel to another state to do it? When you have the ceremony, does one person have all guys in their party and the other have all girls, or do they mix? And if they mix, do they still get divided by gender on each side? Do we adopt or use a surrogate? Who can go out and make a living while the other spends the day in the kitchen cooking and cleaning and making sandwiches? Because between having someone making me sandwiches and being allowed to hang around the house and cook all day, I really don’t know which side to choose.
No one said I couldn’t be gay and misogynist at the same time.
No relationship is cut and paste, of course. Everyone is different and everything takes time. But it’s always nice to have some template to go by, instead of all these vague choices and loopholes. Especially for someone as goddamn indecisiveas me. It’s infuriatingly confusing in a society of hard-to-break and oddly easy-to-love conventions that no longer apply to you.
This and #2 are about as pessimistic I’ll get, but it’s also the knife that’s been twisting in my gut for a while. As a kid, “gay” was tossed around as just another swear word that meant absolutely nothing except “it’s bad,” so that’s not really an issue. But then, when we got older, we gradually understood the differences between a penis being one place versus another place, and thus if kids wanted to make fun of you, they could very well make up rumors about you being gay and people knew what it meant. If you were in a rural hick school like I was, then there was a total of about 5 people who didn’t think homosexuality was evil and stupid, and all of them were probably bullied into submission.
Naturally, not being inherently popular, most of the assertions people made about me between getting pushed into urinals and body-slammed onto bathroom floors were that I was gay.
The best years of your life!
The thing that made this pretty harsh was that close friends and apathetic classmates alike often asked me why I would never even try to get a girlfriend, or when I actually had girls who were outwardly interested in me, I still turned them down out of “fear” or “not being ready” (considering how abstract my excuses were, I have no idea how I didn’t see it sooner.) People did legitimately wonder about me, and therefore when douches decided to use this as a bullying tactic, it was less name-calling and more actual accusations based on solid evidence.
Now, any unpopular kid had the dream of triumphing against the people that doubted us by marrying a supermodel and making billions of dollars after amassing fame as the next badass action hero.
You KNOW he played DnD in high school.
And even if we don’t achieve that level, a family, a good job and respect from our community is enough to throw back in the faces of assholes who got fat and divorced.
The problem? In this case, all of the assholes were right. I never will get a girlfriend, I totally was looking at that boy weird, and “suck it” actually wasn’t an insult. No matter how much respect I have for myself, how successful I am, and even how happy I am…I’m exactly the same in their eyes, and they were justified in saying what they said, in a weird way. They were totally right about their accusations, and worse, they figured it out before I did. It sucks hard that I can’t give them the finger the next time I see them.
It’s not like it’s a mystery why–all of that obviously comes from the societal views of gay = bad. It’s not something that keeps me up all night contemplating at all. But it’s the thought that they’ll happen upon my marriage announcement in the paper one day, and laugh about how “they always knew” and getting one more check in the “win” column, even if only in their own eyes–that’s what’s bothersome. I can’t get that one last “fuck you” in, and instead they manage to get the last laugh even though I should have won.
And by other people, I mean the people who are being okay with me being gay but aren’t completely comfortable with it. In my case, family members. As I’ve said before, I haven’t come out to my family yet. One of the major reasons is the clashing with their own beliefs: can they have faith in their god and their son at the same time? Considering how much of a struggle it was for them to come around and support me growing a beard (arguably the second best decision of my entire life) I know coping with this will mean we’re in the long haul.
It literally defied God himself.
But even with that, I think one of the biggest things keeping me from it isn’t as much their reaction as it is how they’re going to live with it as it goes more public. They still go to church twice a week, they still have old-timey family members who would be against it—and they see these people often. And sure, they aren’t going to go blabbing “my son is gay omg lol!” so I guess it would take a while before word gets around. But it will. Oh, there’s no way it won’t.
Despite the growth of progressive LGBT-accepting churches around now, I had the luck of being raised in one that has no issues with quite literally shunning members who do “bad” things (come out as gay or have sex before marriage, for example) and, while the religion certainly preached remaining civil towards homosexuals and never encouraged outright homophobia, that didn’t mean people weren’t judgemental. Specifically, the gossipy old ladies…my god the gossipy old ladies.
The things of fucking nightmares.
With them it sucks because, no matter how much you know what they think doesn’t matter, and you know they’re either senile or insane, you still hate the fact that they could be talking to their old lady friends about you behind your back. And it’s worse than in school, because you can’t get back at them through wacky “Revenge of the Nerds” antics because they’re your “elders” and punching an old lady is only one step below punching babies and kittens.
I spent about 19 years with the church members there, and while there’s a handful of great people, there are many others that will never let my family live it down. They’ll be poking and prodding to get the truth out, asking questions, trying to figure out what went wrong with me, or if they’re really evil, what my parents did wrong. All this on top of the internal struggle my family will undoubtedly go through, trying to wrap their brains around being happy for their son, even though God thinks I’m an abomination. Worse yet, in their eyes, they won’t see me when they get their variation of the heavenly reward because I’ll be so steep in sin.
I’m not trying to trash the religion by any means, but I was raised around these people and I know how they act. My parents’ reputation will be forever tarnished, and considering how quickly gossip spreads, everyone will know about it. The same goes for other friends of the family and extended family, too; we don’t live in the most progressive area ever, and many of these people have excessively conservative values. And that’s fine, but it’s not just me who gets branded as resident weirdo, but my entire immediate family. And, again, all of this is going to be happening at the same time that my family will be inevitably vulnerable trying to sort out their own beliefs and whether I’m right or wrong.
Oh shit, you’re talking about ME now, aren’t you…
Okay, one cool thing about being a white guy coming out as gay is that you’re not a racial minority, so you still get all the perks of being in a white man’s world, but you can still feel “special” for being that “other” kind of minority. Also, people call you an inspiration when do little more than change your “interested in” on Facebook, so it’s a cool ego booster too.
But then you realize what being a minority means when you read the news. Controversial issues on CNN become completely relevant on a terrifyingly personal level pretty much overnight, and the moment I realized it was startlingly surreal. I’m not saying politics weren’t relevant before, but there’s certainly a difference between seeing politicians debate over the economy, taxes, even wars, as opposed to whether or not I’m a human being.
I mentioned before that my big worry is not knowing how to go through the relationship process into marriage, but then I find that the word “marraige” is so deep in political muck that I’m even more confused. Maybe this is how military families feel when they debate about war, but at least that’s not a debate overyour entire fucking state of existence, right?
Beyond that, having the crux of the issue be a Defense of Marriage Act sort of implies that there’s an attack on it. This in turn implies there’s a war going on that I guess I was drafted into, which puts a hamper on my initially detached “everybody just needs to chill” approach to politics. Suddenly, the thing 12-year-old girls plan to have with Robert Pattinson is how I’m destroying America, just by thinking. By saying “I want my wedding cake to be Red Velvet,” I’ve effectively launched plasma particle lasers at the American Dream.
The current state of America.
That whole idea that I’m an issue–me, this 20something college graduate with an English Degree who wants nothing more than to be a Power Ranger, is such a threat to America that the President of the fucking United States has to argue about me–it’s absurd. Since when did presidential candidates care what I thought before, anyway? I guess one good thing about having an economic crisis and that war everyone forgot about means at least dudes in wedding dresses isn’t the top issue ever. But it’s still big enough to make you really wonder what sanity is actually left if I’m what some people might base their votes on. I’m all for being the center of attention, but come on.
This is your threat to America. THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS.
As I’ve compiled all of this (and hopefully as you’ve read it) you might have noticed the one constant thread that has persisted throughout: Most of this shit? It comes from outside sources. It honestly isn’t my own insecurities and indecisiveness and self-doubt that makes it suck, it’s the juxtaposition of trying to be cool with myself and living in a society that isn’t cool with me.
All that being said, the external struggle? Much, much much better than the internal one I had for years before coming out. It’s like how you have to get out of the Matrix first, in order to fight the actual machines on the outside. The inner battle might seem easier, but it’s the tough-as-nails outer battle that will win you the world (barring extraneous sequels.)
Artistic representation of me coming out of the closet
Either way, these are my observations. And they’re just that: observations. The world is a really, really stupid place, but there’s a way to get past all this stuff, and you do it for good reason–being happy and finding love and having sex with whoever you fucking want to. Because you’re awesome, and that’s why you exist. To be awesome.