Pressure is a universal theme no matter whom or where you are. Everyone has experienced it in some form. High school seniors are pressured to get into a good college to better their chances at a future. Women are pressured to get married and procreate. Men are pressured to be the masculine provider, keeping food on the table with a hard day’s work. Peer pressure can affect the ideas and actions of those impressionable enough to be a follower. And no one that I know of is completely free from outside influences and weights on their shoulders.
I know of a lot of GLBTQ people that will agree with my next statement:
Not one person in this entire world knew that I was gay before I did. Period.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “…okay, that’s a bit weird to just blurt out.” Buckle up; I’m going somewhere with this. There is a serious epidemic of people, both GLBTQ and straight alike, who think they have this magic little thing that I find to be so offensive it makes my hair stand on end: “Gaydar.” To those that have never heard of this before, Gaydar is a term used when someone is convinced that someone is gay, regardless of their personal feelings or their life choices. You may have heard someone say, “oh, so-and-so is definitely gay. I have great Gaydar. I can always tell. He/She just doesn’t know it yet.”
…I’m gonna ask my loyal readers to forgive my candid voice in this week’s issue of My Big Fat Gay Column, ’cause I’m about to serve up some “How Dare You Impose Your Opinions on Anyone Else Like That” realness. To say that someone is gay and doesn’t know it yet, especially to their face, is one of the saddest pressures placed on people of alternative lifestyles. I have stated previously that I had a very easy time with “coming out of the closet” (another term I fuckin’ hate). I think that I need to clarify what I meant by that a little more.
Once I realized who I was and what path I was going to take in life, be it sexually and spiritually and everything in between, things became a lot clearer for me. Up until that point, things were very difficult a lot of the time. I didn’t have any gay friends. I was the oddball in my circles of friends, because I liked theater and music and fashion. That’s when everybody took it upon themselves to tell me “Conor, you’re gay. You just need to come out of the closet already!” At that point, I was getting attitudes like that from all angles. And while I did have the realization that I am attracted to men down the road, I was almost forced to play a part that I was ill-equipped to play at the time. People argue now that they were right all along, but I disagree 110% with their method of execution.
Ho·mo·sex·u·al·i·ty [hoh-muh-sek-shoo-al-i-tee], noun: Sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one’s own sex.
Last I knew, my boner had nothing to do with the theatrical endeavors I have pursued, or the music I choose to play, or anything else besides with whom I was sharing it. It had taken me years to get to the point where I am comfortable publically doing my part to put a stop to this. I feel so terrible for the people who are cut from a different cloth, and just want to go about their business as a straight male or female but are constantly being told that they are gay and “just need to come out”.
I heard the story recently of a heterosexual couple that really got to me. They are just like any other couple; they cook dinner together, they enjoy their sexual experiences, and they share finances and household duties. They go out with their friends as a couple, and leave together. There’s only one thing keeping this committed relationship from being picturesque: the man involved is a performing artist, and his stage persona is very androgynously flashy which leads many people to believe that he is gay. They are often met with accusations that she is just his beard**, and that he is gay and that “he needs to stop lying to himself”.
Just as it’s unfair for a conservative person to tell a homosexual that they are “straight and being influenced by sin”, I can completely relate to the oppression that this man is receiving. No one wants to be marched up to and told that everything they know is wrong. And furthermore, who out there actually thinks that they have their shit together so well that they can go around and dictate other people’s lives? Let alone their sex lives! This man can’t simply love a girl and be himself in the process without people butting in and saying things that aren’t necessarily accurate in any way.
I will say that so far I have spoken mostly towards the straight community, and want to offer the gay version of this problem. To all you gay men and women out there that are out at the club and a straight person walks in with a few of their gay friends, THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT HUNTING SEASON IS OPEN. You look stupid and slutty going up to that person and saying “you don’t know that you’re not gay ‘cause you’ve never tried it” and insist that you’re going to “turn them gay”. You should know above all that being gay is not a choice, and if you’re going to preach that in a Pride parade or on your Facebook wall, you need to follow through with it and not set our people back decades of hard work just so you can maybe get your dick wet. Grow up.
The point that I’m trying to make is that unless you walk in on your friend and someone of the same sex ACTUALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF SEX, you have no idea what you’re talking about. And you should mind your own business, however much you think you might be just trying to help. If there’s one thing that I know about the process of coming out, it’s that it is a personal journey that cannot be rushed and cannot be forced. “Just come out already” is one of the rudest, most insensitive things I’ve ever had the misfortune of being told. That never helped anything. That just pushed me further into the so-called closet, ’cause I wasn’t ready to jump through the straight world’s hoops of confirming their fabulously on-point Gaydar, just so they could pat themselves on the back and say “see, don’t you feel better?”
I’ll feel better when I’ve got a cocktail, ’cause our community deals with struggles every day. Just because you watched Queer As Folk doesn’t make you an expert. Just ask the man mentioned above. He can’t enjoy the things that make him happy without being pigeonholed into a lifestyle that everybody would rather he have so that they sleep better at night. You wanna help? Tell the friend whose sexuality is in question that you love and support them unconditionally, and make sure they know that they can always talk to you about anything. After all, that’s your job. It is NOT, however, your job to slam some character in the painting you’ve created in your mind on their shoulders until they confirm what you pressured them into in the first place. Let it happen naturally, and celebrate their lifestyle choices accordingly. Trust me.
Again, please forgive me if I come off brash. You know I love all of you little weirdos. Just tone it the frig down and do you. I’ll do the same.
**A “beard” is a significant other that is put into place, usually for a public figure, to keep up an image of being a heterosexual when the reality is the opposite. You remember them, right gays? They went to the prom with you.