What’s it like to be gay? What’s it like to be bisexual? These are tough questions to answer. What I can tell you is that it is not like being straight.
From the time I was in preschool I noticed grownups shaping how children behave. This is a part of parenting, but I also noticed suggestions that made me nervous. Boys like girls. Girls like boys. Boys wear blue and girls wear pink. Blue was my favorite color, but I also admired pink. Boys play war with army men and girls play house with dolls. I loved commanding armies, but playing with dolls was just as much fun.
It didn’t take me long to see that no one was allowed to like both ends of these pairs. For some reason, unrealized to me, boys and girls were only supposed to fit specific molds. From preschool until I graduated high school this really bothered me in the way dark back alleys in dim lit cities bother me now. Something about those alleys are ominous. I don’t know why they worry me, but it seems there is some unspoken truth about them.
I can feel it in the pit of my chest, deep inside where it’s dark like the ever-expanding abyss of space. The emotion is fear. I was afraid.
Like a play that never ends, I starred as the small town, all-American, white boy trapped in a world of peers that were unforgiving when I read the wrong lines from my script. Faggot. Queer. Homo. The words dripped from the mouths of my attackers with pure disgust. They taunted me, poked and prodded, and waited to squash my sole. They were afraid.
Many of us fear the unknown, the uncertain, and the yet to come. Our nature is to defend ourselves from attack and to follow the rules that create the least resistance. That’s why the bullies and my friends came after me when I slipped up and missed my cue. They were afraid. They experienced fear. For they all saw me in those moments as a foreign force, nonconforming, and with no context to ground them in understanding. Therefore, their reaction was raw, it was human: defend myself from the unknown.
I don’t blame my peers for being mean. Any child that has every gone through school knows what it is like to be embarrassed. What we go through, those of us in the LGBT+ community, is something deeper and more unnerving. It’s that undeniable ache in the pit of our chests. It is fear. But more than that is the experience of being terrified. It’s built into our DNA. I hid for years and I didn’t know why I was hiding. That feeling in the bottom of my chest was the concern of being discovered to be different than everyone else. To be bisexual. To be gay. To be unique.
Looking back hurts, but it helps me realize that I am a fighter today because of those experiences. Bitchyness is a stereotype frequently associated with gays. I prefer to think of it as feistiness.
I was persecuted for being myself. Today, I lead an intentionally against-the-grain life. I choose to be different in my work, my passion, and my expression. I did not choose to be bisexual. I would not choose to be straight.
While I don’t face the same peers that ridiculed me back in grade school, I face a new antagonist. The fear of failure, the drive of success, and my own judgement.
I walk the path less traveled and I ask others to follow me, knowing that tomorrow could bring complete failure or total success. I am building my empire slowly but surely and so much stands in the way. From the complexities of running an organization founded on truth in a world less trusting than ever before to my own hesitation to show my true self, there are plenty of battles waiting to tear me down.
Hate builds in the gut and scales to the top of your chest. It feels hot on the face before rushing to every part of your body. I hate when I choose not to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public because I fear the snarling glares. I hate when I lower my voice in the presence of my family because it makes me seem less feminine. I hate when I hesitate to embrace the style, clothing, hair, and gestures that I so long for.
I am out of the closet. The first closet.
In front of me is my apartment door. I must step out of the closet again today. I must step out of the closet again tomorrow.
For me, like many in my community, we must step out of the closet every day. We must choose to be strong and forge ahead. The path less traveled is rough. Around every corner there is a cliff that drops into total darkness. We know the risks, but forge ahead because the darkness is lurking close behind. If we don’t keep moving a fault will open beneath us and drag us into that same darkness.
That darkness lives within us, it is all around us. Remember this: today we must open the door to face what’s next. If we keep fighting we can open the door again tomorrow.
We must show the world our unwavering faith in the steadfast nature of our community. For I long for my persecutors to see my success, to admire my perseverance, and to silently ask my forgiveness.
What’s it like to be gay? What’s it like to be bisexual? These are tough questions to answer, but I can tell you that it’s special. The darkness is darker. The path is rougher. The love is stronger. The passion is deeper and the success is sweeter. Forge ahead and be thankful that you’re a part of our stonewall community.