Being gay is not a choice, and I know because I thought I would outgrow it when I first realized that I might be gay when I was ten. Year after year, I fluctuated between pretending to be straight and wanting to be straight. I befriended the tough guys in my class to keep that masculine aura, but I also fantasized about getting in their pants when I was alone in my bedroom. What I knew for sure when I was ten was I wasn’t allowed to like boys. My father made that clear. Over dinner, whenever something gay would come up on TV, he would start a homosexual rant that my mom would later join. He would then remind me and my sisters the grounds upon which we would get kicked out of the house: either they get pregnant or I become gay.
It was scary to have that planted on the back of your mind when there was a possibility that you were gay. I was forced to hide that part of myself because I didn’t want to lose my home, or at least I forced myself. When I wanted to play with Barbies, I had to pretend that I needed a damsel in distress for my action sequences with my Batman figure. Really, I just wanted to admire Barbie’s wardrobe. When I drew princesses in gowns that I designed, the drawings either had to be buried in my backpack or torn to pieces before being thrown away, so that no one would see them. I learned to live a secret life, and the more I did, the more I realized that I wanted it to be my only life.
It’s not like I wanted it. I just couldn’t force myself to want anything else, and for a while, the reasons I felt that way towards whatever it was that I didn’t like seemed to be detached from my sexuality. I hated playing sports because sweating made me feel uncomfortable. It also made me smell, a trait that I did not want to be known for. I didn’t want to be in a relationship (presumably with a girl) because I didn’t have time to juggle love with my studies, and I had a stellar academic record to protect. I wasn’t into superheroes because I preferred real people who made a real impact on the world without relying on “super powers,” unless brain power counted as one, and I identified myself with those people. As I’ve learned throughout puberty and through the solidification of my preferences, the only definite thing that could be linked to my being gay was my liking for boys.
When it comes down to that, there seems to be no excuse not to come out of the closet. You see, not everyone gets that being gay means that you like people of the same sex. Take my mom, for example. While I’m sure that she knows about my “situation,” I’ve never admitted anything to her, nor do we talk about it except for the few times that she asked while we were watching TV, “Are you gay?” I always answered with a nervous but firm no, and she always followed up with, “You don’t want to be a girl?” She obviously doesn’t understand what a gay person is or could be. She always has to box things up. For people like her, relationships have to be between a man and a woman, or at least between their “equivalents.” By this, I recall her lauding a couple on a documentary we saw. The couple was an effeminate gay man who married a butch lesbian; they were expecting a baby. My mom commended them for getting over their gay phase and for returning to normalcy.
Unfortunately, most of my family members think that way. My grandma insisted on buying a gay aunt a present from the men’s department and made a joke out of it. My dad openly and angrily doubted why people found a certain senator-boxer’s comments about homosexuality atrocious. My sister consistently joke-asks for support for her “decision” to become bisexual. One of my uncles commented on my cousin’s coming out post on Facebook that “No matter what, his favorite nephew will always be his favorite, even if he has turned into a niece.”
Props to my mom, though. She did try to educate herself. Once at a meeting she and I arranged with a local drag queen whom we wanted to perform at an event, she asked the queen about those gym-fit gay men. She desperately wanted to understand how it was possible for a masculine man to fall in love with another masculine man because it was clearly impossible. I wanted to speak, but I kept quiet in fear of outing myself. Besides, she was talking to another gay man, and a gay man, of all people, would know how to best explain it… Or at least I thought. The drag queen said in a matter-of-the-factly tone that men like the ones my mom described were bisexual. They are gay for other bisexual men, but in the end, they become straight for women. To make things worse, he proceeded to explain that gay men, such as himself, go for straight guys with girlfriends. Gay guys pay straight guys to spend the night with them, which motivates them to work hard because having no money means having no boyfriend. He concludes that all is fair in the end because the boyfriends give their gay for pay earnings to their girlfriends who spend it at the salon, which of course is owned by a gay man who repeats the homo-circle of cash.
I wanted to throw up. Not only was that the most fucked-up explanation I have ever heard about being gay, but now my mom thought of it that way, too. If I do come out, I’d be reduced to a guy who wants to be a girl and to own a salon, so I could have money to fund my relationships. Fuck.
I’m doomed to never come out. Surprisingly, it’s only been an issue on select days because I’m not one to let my sexuality take over my life. It’s such a small part of myself that it shouldn’t even be one of the things that describe me, if I had my way at least. I’m so many other things beyond being a closeted homo. Nonetheless, I’ve been living a pretty gay life, marked by dates with strangers I met online, messy long distance relationships, and a hook-up’s semen stain on my bed, and you know what? It’s a pretty interesting life, too, even if it is from the closet.