A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Gay

I want to talk about my sexuality today, on National Coming Out Day, because it’s something I can speak of unabashedly, and I have no shame whatsoever. I like men, and I like women, and I like people because I’m not going to deny myself any sort of human pleasure available to me in the world.

I started to question things as I entered high school a freshman. Then I found solace in a person I thought to be exactly like me, but that was just as toxic as that was helpful, a little more so the prior. And there were too many other things that year happening in my life that I had no capability whatsoever to develop any sort of identity. Identity is an important thing. The most difficult aspect of growing up sexually ambiguous is the severe aloneness. Because there is no such thing as a community for someone closeted. You’re forced to grow up in a culture of straightness, and there is no one around you, no group of persons just like you. No one can help you because no one can understand you. You’re alone and impelled to accept that. I swiftly learned that in order to live any sort of life I can deal with, I had to resolve that I was my own person.

My lack of identity throughout high school left my mentality up in the air. Still, no one quite understands why I had been so sad, and I think that displays a complete worldly lack of comprehension for the life of a homosexual man. My entire adolescence appeared to be observing heterosexual teens have the time of their lives, while I couldn’t discern what differed between them and me. I should say, I knew what the signifying characteristic was, but I couldn’t understand why it ostracized me.

I started to affirm my identity when I stumbled across feminism. Feminism is the most misunderstood word in the English language, because it goes against English language. The language that stresses tradition above all. It takes popularly preconceived notions and turns them on their head. I would go on and on, but certainly the reader didn’t click on this intending to read a thesis.

I debated and debated to write an essay on National Coming Out Day, because I don’t agree with the notion of “coming out,” per se. I feel like, if straight people don’t have to, I shouldn’t either. Coming out is just another way, to me, of saying to the people around you, “I’m not straight,” rather than, “I am _____”. I think that only others an individual more, and I am sick to death of thinking daily how easier my life would have been had I been straight, had I been beautiful. I came out in the ninth grade to my best friend, and then I never came out again. Simply I just stopped hiding it one day. One day something clicked, and next thing I didn’t care anymore. But this is my view. I recognize that coming out is a monumental moment in many people’s lives, so I do not want to take away from their experiences.

I am proud of my sexuality, proud beyond belief. I am proud because everyone tells me I shouldn’t be. I am proud because every single day of my life I deal firsthand with the societal effects of liking men, and every day I triumph over that. I triumph even when people tell me there’s nothing to triumph over. Never let another person define your experience for you.

Speaking of that, I’ve found men can be quite the obstacle. I’ve never had a relationship with a man, platonic or not, that I haven’t faced the harsh realities of gender. My first fling with a man was summer of last year, and it ended as soon as it started because the worst possible thing for him to realize was that he liked men. I’ve seen internalized homophobia at its worst, or I’ve been objectified just the same. Dealing with male masculinity has consistently loomed over my maturation as a predominant force of nature. I like to think I’ve risen above that, but I’m a lightweight too. It’s necessary to maintain a separateness when dealing with relationships, is what I’ve discovered. I don’t believe in soul mates because no one is crafted for another person. I am myself, independent.

I know now that being straight is not tantamount to being normal. I am just like anyone else, and who I sleep with means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

I didn’t intend on this being so much like a motivational speech. But I figure I should end on this important note, being that it is National Coming Out Day:

Take your time. Never feel pressured to come out. When it’s time, you’ll know. I spoke of being a freshman and having a gay friend to look up to; except, they criticized me regularly for not being out. Anyone who does that clearly hates themselves. Take your goddamn time. You never have to do anything to suit others.

picture: Campbell’s Soup Cans, Andy Warhol (1962)




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