How Being Ambiguously Gay Can Make You Feel Invisible
So yesterday I went to a screening at my school’s React to Film club for a documentary about Matt Shepard (it’s really good by the way check out the trailer). The subject is an interesting one to me, which is why I wanted to go. When I got there, this girl in one of my classes who I don’t really speak to was there as well, and she told me how it was so cool that I came, which was kind of a weird remark to me, so I said “Why?” And she was like “Not a lot of straight guys are gonna come to this.” So I had to explain to her that I was also gay, and she looked pretty surprised and we kinda laughed it off after that. Now in retrospect I really missed an opportunity to use the line “Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not.” which would’ve been a lot funnier, but she got the point humorously or not. And stuff like this is something I deal with often, but it’s always refreshing to let people know that extra bit of information about me, even though it can get kind of awkward with some people.
With that said, it’s also kind of annoying because often times for people like me, you tend to feel invisible in the LGBTQ community. Like I love and admire more obviously gay people because they’re shamelessly expressing who they are and not giving a shit what people think because they’re proud of who they are, I think that’s awesome. I’m also proud of who I am as a homosexual and I always stay true to who I am no matter what. Unfortunately, what I truthfully am isn’t exactly the common image of a gay man, and I get mistaken for straight a lot, and it can be annoying sometimes. The femme gays have it easier in the sense that they don’t have to tell people they’re gay every time they meet someone new because they don’t require an explanation. At this point I can probably count the amount of times I’ve had to verbally come out to people on about nine people’s hands. The worst is when I see a guy (in class for example) that I really like and I want them to notice me, but I don’t know how to approach them correctly (I’m also hella shy around guys I like it’s the worst). Thank God for things like OkCupid and so help me Grindr where it’s easier to spot the other fish in the sea.
Speaking of connecting with other gay guys, another big problem is not having a whole lot in common with my already limited dating pool. Now that’s not to say I’m into like super macho hetero things because I’m not, but I also never got into much of the campy stuff either (I have a soft spot for John Waters though, but that’s the die-hard cinephile in me coming into play). And while some of the stuff I do like (i.e. movies, video games, comic books, good wine, etc.) are shared with others in the gay community, and we do bond over things like that, one of my own personal problems (I can’t speak for anyone else in this case) is I’m not usually the type the kinda guys I like are into, but that’s a story for another day. Essentially it’s one of the silly reasons I’ve felt trepidacious about going to LGBT meetings at school and things like that. It’s that fear of feeling even more like an outsider in a marginalized group of people. Over time, I’ve taught myself that that’s just one of the things that makes me even more unique and I should be proud of that, but in rare situations, that fear kind of takes over again.
But probably the most frustrating aspect of it all is the way (dun dun dun) straight men in partiuclar handle it. It’s not so much aggressive homophobia that I have to deal with which I’m thankful for, but it’s more them liking me because I’m “not one of those flamboyant gays,” which is more subtle homophobia. They basically just like me because I fit closer to their norms and the way I carry myself is more comfortable and familiar with them. Like it’s just a really backhanded compliment that I have no time for (same goes especially for “you’re pretty cool for a gay guy”….BARF). Putting down gays that are more feminine to give me a “compliment” is not the best approach. It just makes me want to wrap a rainbow around me while throwing glitter in the air while blasting some Britney song just to test how much they genuinely like me (man I should really try this on a couple people just to weed out the fakes).
Now don’t get me wrong, I know this makes me come off as a bitter homosexual, but I’m really not. I really do love my straight friends and my fellow gays, and I don’t blame y’all for not picking up on my sexuality straight away, I’ve had my share of surprises too. Connecting with both types of people have resulted in some nicely built bridges and hopefully many more follow over time. This also doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the perks and the privilege that comes with this, but every person of every age, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. has their own unique set of problems, and these are just some of the ones that people like me deal with.
Oh and one last thing because I couldn’t fit it in earlier: if you’re reading this and you’re inconspicuously gay (and presumably out) like myself and you identify as “straight acting” and god forbid are proud of that, please stop thinking like that. That phrase reeks of internalized homophobia and there’s better ways to identify yourself. At least use “masculine.” Like I understand that society unfortunately teaches us that femininity is seen as a weakness and your male pride is too precious to you, but there’s nothing straight acting about a man sucking another man’s dick and there’s nothing attractive about self-loathing either. Please love yourself and unlearn this behavior, it makes life easier.