It’s not easy being gay. It’s easy for me to think it is, because when you surround yourself with good, open-minded, accepting people it’s easy to think that’s the way the world is, but periodically – on the news, on the street, or in the office – I’m reminded that we are still different. We are still ‘other’.
Much like any minority, being openly gay opens you up for feeling different. For anyone who’s ever felt different, for anyone who’s ever been pointed at or whispered about, for anyone who’s had a dream about being in public and suddenly realizing you have no clothes on, imagine that feeling ALL THE TIME. If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable in a gay bar, imagine that feeling EVERYWHERE.
This world is a straight world. Every restaurant is a straight restaurant. Every office is a straight office. Every bus, train, or plane is a straight bus, train, or plane. Heterosexuality is the default setting ~ wide-ranging, far-reaching, accepted and commonplace. Homosexuality is the exception to the rule.
Every so often I feel it – the weight of it – the burden of being different. It’s a cumulative thing, built up year after year, little by little, whispered word by whispered word ~ and the effects are mostly deleterious. A fatigue, a vague mistrust, a twinge of paranoia that eventually, and always, turns out badly. You have to be careful with what you do with it. Too easily does it turn against the very people who are there to help you, too easily does it turn you against yourself.
Over the years, as I’ve grown into myself and become more genuinely confident in who I am, this battle fatigue has become more manageable, and I’ve been less affected by it. But it has taken years, and the war rages on in lands beyond my backyard.
If I seem too sensitive at times, if I come off as prickly, stop and think where I’m coming from, and where I’ve been. If you spend your life in a world largely foreign to you, where 97 percent of where you are and what you do is the opposite of your nature, what would you feel? How well would you cope if you had to wake up every day in a gay world? How would you feel if those seven awkward minutes in which you shared a quick drink with me in a gay bar turned into seventy years?
That’s what it’s like when I wake up every morning, go into work, walk around downtown for lunch, go out to dinner, the movies, a show (well, maybe not a show…) and all the other things we do on a daily basis. As accepting as most of my friends are, it’s still there. There’s still the burden. There’s still the difference. And until you’ve been there, you can never know. You can sympathize, you can relate, you can support and you can love, but you can never fully know.
I guess this is my roundabout way of saying that there’s still a need for Gay Pride. As comfortable and as proud as I am to be a gay man, there’s still a glimmer of doubt, still a shred of uncertainty I feel whenever someone attacks marriage equality, calls someone a faggot, or kills a gay person. That doubt and uncertainty is what they want me to feel. That’s how you stifle a group of people, that’s how you silence those who are different. And though I’ve learned to embrace being different, there will always be a cost to it. All the rainbows in the world can’t fix that, no matter how pretty.Back to Blog