Good morning, queer! Hello, flamer. Howyadoin’, homo?
These are common greetings that I hear almost every morning at work. They are the unexpected result of coming out to family, friends and coworkers. After all these years, I wish I could say I have a thick skin, but, alas, those words can still feel like daggers.
Sure, I could go to the superiors to complain and have these guys reprimanded, but what would that accomplish? This is the way that most of them deal with an uncomfortable situation – they joke about it. Considering that I’m the only openly gay person that most of these guys know, I’d say they’ve handled it pretty well. I haven’t experienced any real problems, and the majority of them have been somewhat accepting. I even took my partner to the company Christmas party in 2005 and everyone was very polite and courteous.
Coming out was probably the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret it. There have been times when I have wondered if it would have been more convenient to stay in the closet, but I believe the necessary deception and lies would have eventually driven me over the edge.
Even though the people around me know that I’m gay, there are times when I don’t “shout it from the rooftops.” Those moments may come when I’m in a restaurant, attending a rock concert, or simply getting medical care. Just because I choose to inform people that I know personally of this aspect of my life, that doesn’t mean that the whole world deserves to know all the intimate details of who I love. Self-preservation can also play a role, as there are times when it would literally be unsafe to announce my sexuality to complete strangers.
There are many examples over the last few years of being open and honest about my sexuality, too. We started attending church as a couple, we live together, we shop together, etc. We definitely do not make any attempt to hide it on a regular basis, only when we feel it’s necessary.
I suppose one of the things that bothers me most about this whole process is that once people attach the word “gay” to you, that’s all they see from that point on. The other facets of your life and personality are all overshadowed by your sexuality. You become the “homo,” the “queer,” the “flamer” instead of a person who simply loves someone of the same gender.
I have so much respect for the crusaders of our day – Rosie O’Donnell, Elton John, kd lang, Melissa Etheridge, Ellen – but there are a few huge differences between them and most of the homosexuals in the rest of the country and beyond. They have celebrity, wealth and personal security; those are things that most of us can only dream of. I still believe that they are on the frontlines in terms of changing the way that society views homosexuality. They define and redefine what it means to be famous and open, unwilling to compromise, regardless of the consequences.
Perhaps, I can also have some impact on the perceptions of people around me. Maybe, with time, they will see that loving someone isn’t just something to joke about or make light of – it’s an admirable, honorable state of being.
Love is everything it’s cracked up to be… It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
– Erica Jong