I’ve written about how I feel about being gay from a variety of different angles before, from the more traditional coming-out story to the the hints of the Early Gay Crushes series, or how I’m somewhat uncomfortable with comforming to gay stereotypes, even though I use them myself to navigate. But there is one thing that’s more important than any of these when it comes to what kind of gay I am, and that has to do with how I talk to other people about my gayness.
Like pretty much every person in the world, and especially anyone who writes a blog, I love to talk about myself, and thus I would like for people to talk to me about this stuff (at least some part of me continually hope that I have more closeted gay friends than I know, heh). But still, every time anyone make a reference to my being gay, I find it slightly uncomfortable, because I’m no longer necessarily in charge of where this very personal conversation is going. On the one hand I guess I’m still not past the point where I want the whole world to know, but on the other hand I don’t want that information to make them see me in a different way.
These reflections came to me when I incidentally caught a rerun (season three, episode nine) of Weeds the other day. During season three it is revealed (minor spoiler ahead) that Sanjay (played by Maulik Pancholy), one of Nancy’s dealers, is gay. A scene in which the Botwin family and associates discuss their dealing policies, perfectly captures my own attitude toward other people about my gayness. Nancy has just given Sanjay his instructions when he adds:
And gay bars and dance clubs, ’cause I’m a fag***. I can call myself that, but you can’t, ’cause I’m gay and you’re not. I’m not ashamed. This is who I am.
The ‘I’m not ashamed. This is who I am‘ part is probably added as some sort of joke about the correctness of it all, but to me it carried some significance still. Having been out to everyone for more than two years now, I still have to tell myself that if I don’t want this to be a big deal for my friends, then it shouldn’t be a big deal for me either. In the next moment, Sanjay’s sudden need to re-introduce himself comes to life again, as he blurts out that he’s gay to Nancy’s son Silas (played by the incredibly attractive Hunter Parrish, who currently rests at #3 on the Sexiest Males Alive list). I imagine I would have done pretty much the same thing, just not nearly as confidently.
People who think they might be gay are often told that it’s just a phase. I’m well past that. The phase that’s not talked nearly as much about, but it implies that you actually are gay, and that you neither can nor want to change that, is what happens after you realize you’re gay. I’m talking after the coming out process, about learning to live a gay life without the need to defend yourself against what you think others might think of you, or perhaps just as important, what you think of yourself. Let’s call it the Life is gay. So am I phase. Weeds doesn’t give out the answers, but in a way it made me understand myself better.
I think this is my favorite piece you’ve written. I’m going to share it with a few friends.
Thank you very much, Bryan.
I love this post as well, especially that part where you said you’re uncomfortable about conforming to gay stereotypes but you nonetheless use them to navigate. In some ways, I can relate to that.
For me, being gay is not something that defines me. I think that’s why I do everything in my power to not lead a streotypical gay lifestyle such as constantly going clubbing, having multiple partners, only hanging out with other gays or mostly women, acting really feminine, the list goes on.
I mean, yeah, being a homo is a part of me like the color of my skin. But I’d like to be known for something else. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it. It’s more about fighting the initial assumptions.
Unlike you, I guess I’m still at that stage where I still need to defend my lifestyle against such assumptions. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll reach that point in my life. But right now I don’t see myself leading my life in another way. For me, if you don’t correct people’s mindsets (especially when they don’t know they’re doing something wrong), they can’t learn to at least consider the alternative.
Thank you very much for your comment, and thanks for sharing. I generally agree with everything you said.
It’s not that I don’t want to correct people if they don’t know they’re doing something wrong, it’s just that it’s a damn uncomfortable thing to do. It highlights your different-ness, and also other people don’t like being labeled as bigoted, however unconciously.
When it comes to how I use gay stereotypes to navigate, this has to do with something of a double standard: I hate it if people judge me on the basis of those stereotypes you mention (generally because neither of them fit me), but still, if I’m trying to find out if a guy is gay or not, I’ll look for exactly the same stereotypical signs that any straight person would.
This is probably one of my favourite pieces too. I feel exactly the same way. I’m to the point that I’m comfortable with my “gayness” and most of the people I’ve told are okay with it, but it’s not something I want to tell the world.
A good portion of my reluctance is due to me working in a school. While I believe that most of the staff would be okay with it, we also have a religious program at the school. I know they wouldn’t be okay with it (they’re an extremely conservative group). Regardless of them I also am not comfortable with the way it changes how people look at you. Something you say innocently suddenly has strange hidden motives.
Thankfully I don’t fall into the stereotypes propagated by the media. While I don’t have a problem with people who do fit the stereotype I don’t want to be one either. In fact, I came out to a couple of friends in the last couple of months (I usually like to get to know them before telling them) and the reaction I received from both was “no you’re not!” One friend that I told refused to believe me until I took him up to my bookcase and pointed out some of the literature there. He still had to ask two mutual friends to confirm it before he believed me (it was annoying…if not amusing).
While I don’t hide my sexuality I’m pragmatic about it. I tell those who are important to me. The rest don’t need to know.
Thank you and welcome back to all of that, Smilie.
“I also am not comfortable with the way it changes how people look at you. Something you say innocently suddenly has strange hidden motives.”
Those two sentences make my point better than I did in this entire post.