I am more than a single opinion. There are so many issues that need to be addressed I can’t just focus on one. How do I wrap up over 20 years of my life in a thousand words? Being gay today is so much more to me than that.
Even though I am 26, I think of myself as truly acknowledging my homosexuality when I was 18. I told my mother on the first Friday in January of 1998. Yes, I still remember the exact date. We both cried. She felt she lost a son while I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. That feeling, by the way, was only temporary.
I was very afraid growing up. Never about being beaten up or dying of AIDS, but about simply being treated differently for something I had no control over or had no say in. People think they have a right to get involved in your life and determine whether or not you deserve common rights. That sucks. It’s just like being discriminated against for your race, your religion or anything else encompassing your personal character.
I wonder if there are black people who hate gays, or gays that have ever treated a disabled person differently? Are we all guilty of it? Should any of us be throwing stones when we live on a glass planet?
As I get older, these fears subside as I gain more and more confidence. I am growing to realize that, for the most part, if I am good then good things will come to me. It’s a lot like karma, but it has to be a sincere desire in me and not something selfish I do just so I will have good fortune.
Should I assume, then, that Matthew Shepard wasn’t a sincere person, or a jerk? And even if he wasn’t the nicest guy (which I have heard is the farthest thing from the truth) does that mean he deserved to get tied to a fence and beaten to death?
Now that I am an adult, I am concerned with things that I couldn’t have cared less about when I was younger. My community, a serious relationship, getting married one day, finding a good job, maybe even adopting a child – these are all concerns I have as a young adult, many of which are exactly the same as all of my straight friends.
I’ve also had my heart broken more times than I care to admit. A lot of gay men are afraid of commitment because they don’t know what they want in life. How can they commit to a life partner when they can’t even commit to one solid hair color? I think because I am focused and determined and know where I want to be in my life. Many guys are intimidated by that and, as a result, are turned off by me because they feel they don’t fit in the picture. I get dumped a lot. It’s embarrassing.
And seriously, what is up with all of the drug use and unsafe sex? No, I am not stereotyping so please, please, please calm down right now. I have friends where this is a reality for them and not some cable television show. Stereotypes aren’t lies; they’re just not an accurate portrayal of every person in that community.
I am not into the whole “gay pride” thing. I think parades are silly. Being gay, to me, is like going to church. People make a big deal about going to church on Sunday. If you are religious or spiritual, it’s something you should embrace all the time. I’m gay every day, so why should I celebrate it once a year with rainbows and pink triangles?
However, just because I’m not into gay pride celebrations does not mean I am ashamed or unsupportive in any way. I am tired of waiting for people to make a difference for me. I have to do it for myself, along with my community. I need to get involved because I want the struggling to end with my generation. I love who I am and what I represent, I just don’t want it to be a predominant label in my life. I think it’s possible for someone to go through life and not need to make everything they do “gay themed.”
As you can see, I struggle with many issues on a daily basis but I suppress them. If I don’t, I allow myself to be filled with rage. Instead, I save these feelings for special occasions, such as “The Not-So-Straight Issue.”
When I look at society today, as opposed to 10 years ago, I feel we are headed in the right direction, but there are too many distractions. One day, gay marriage will not be a headline in a newspaper but a part of everyday life. I’ve been wanting to get married since I was 18, so I know that it will be something I experience one day. If I can help make that dream a reality for the next generation, I will be there with pink triangles and rainbows on.
Jason Tanner can be reached at email@example.com.