I’m a writer, a student, a hobbyist photographer, a political aficionado, a runner, a reader, an editor, and a very ambitious and passionate person, and yet above it all I feel as though the label that sometimes defines me most is “gay”.
It’s hard to go longer than an hour around a group of my friends without being reminded about my sexuality, and while it’s never in a mean or condescending way (and in fact, is far more often in the form of artfully crafted and genuinely enjoyable jokes), it’s hard not to notice it, and even loathe it. While I think daily of many of the other “labels” that define me, such as being a student, or focusing on a story or a campaign, the one that stands out the most at times is that same recurring label.
I’m not a person who’s obsessed with their sexuality like perhaps some can be. I don’t have any rainbow flags (okay, I ordered one), or big HRC stickers, or any posters of cute guys hanging around, and yet I feel that being gay comes up again and again and again, intentionally or not.
There are moments when this annoys me, as I suppose it does with everyone and every label, moments when you want to be the regular friend, not the gay one, or where you want a relationship to be “regular” and not “gay”; but there are far more moments when I feel oddly warm about it, as though committing just the perfect crime.
Perhaps it was going through the whole long experience of immense and aggravating denial over my sexuality (about which I shall surely write in the future) that makes me feel so satisfied to finally be done and have one definitive and confident label. But I feel that even now that I am out, now that I am comfortable discussing every aspect of my life with those I’m close to, now that I am just another gay in millions, there’s still a larger “warm feeling” than one might get from other labels or categories they belong to. I don’t get as excited when I see someone with a school lapel on their backpack as I do when it’s a rainbow Mickey Mouse, and I certainly don’t watch YouTube videos from runners or read news directly oriented towards writers.
In a way, I feel that perhaps it is because there’s a community behind the label, that because we have all gone through the experience of realization (perhaps also of denial before it) and eventually of coming out or working towards doing so, there’s a key similarity in so many of us and that we have shared many of the same significant experiences. That while our friends were getting their first relationships while young and stupid, we were perhaps more often left out, still panning for another person that fit our sexuality and interests, or still struggling with determining who we really even liked. That a lot of us in the LGBT+ community have felt an odd period of isolation or complete confusion, and that this mutual understanding builds a certain excitement of being a part of a larger community that reflects your own life.
Perhaps it’s because I feel that I am more accepting, more open, and more responsive to others as a result of my long process; that I never find myself judging someone’s dreams or decisions, but rather that I make it a key aspect of my personality to encourage people’s passions. Whether or not this part of me is because I’m gay (which I don’t entirely think it is), or has merely been strengthened by it, I like to think of others as each holding their own special difference or passion, similar to me, and I like to think of how they should receive the encouragement that I would have loved to have years ago.
And maybe it’s simply fun to be different. Every time I meet someone else I have one interesting secret about me that always surprises people just a bit, no matter how little they really care, that my friends from middle or even early high school would be shocked by at least one aspect of me at a reunion walking in hand-in-hand with a hot British Academy Award-winning actor (or someone nice might work too), or the feeling that I get to be a least a little bit more of a special snowflake than all the straight people out there and even get a hot little flag and symbol to be excited about it with.
Often, it’s also because of my excitement to be even more open with the whole “gay thing”, that I’m thrilled to get to go to college and be around more than two other gay people (small school), join clubs focused on that and my many other passions, and even perhaps attend a pride event or parade.
Being a homosexual doesn’t define me, just as being LGBT+ doesn’t define most of the entire community, but it is an aspect of me that I have come to think of as fantastic. When I first began to truly realize that I was gay, I could only think about how unfair that seemed to me. I got one life and had to live it so abnormally, without a standard family, a standard picture-perfect life, and yet eventually you realize that, firstly, not only can you still have all of that, but secondly, who wants normal? Who wants to be another face in seven billion? Eventually I realized that there are much worse “handicaps” to be born with, and that guys are pretty damn hot and very worth it in the end. So yes, I bought a rainbow flag to join my collection of 40+ world flags, and yes there is actually an HRC sticker on the back of my laptop right now (don’t judge); but while there are many other stickers there with it, and many other things about me that I explore and love deeply, in the end this is one that I am oddly proud of.