In the end, I don’t care why he voiced support of same-sex marriage. The flapping lips of Biden, a reelection ploy, a lightning strike spurring along his evolution, it does not matter to me. He said it.
When I realized I was gay as a teenager, I felt broken. Something had clearly gone very wrong with me, something that could not be fixed, something shameful and mortifying. I wanted to die rather than live with the stigma of being gay, condemned to hell by my grandmother, told by my awful younger brother* that gays were worse than child molesters, my mother** bewildered that anyone could be gay when men and women’s bodies fit so well together. Gay people weren’t aesthetically pleasing, and so they should stop being gay! Tab A goes in Slot B. There, all better.
I grew up in a very straight world. There were no gay characters on my TV shows or in my books; there were no gay people in my community. All I knew came from the news (gay people are pervs with AIDS!), from kids at school (we’re not sure what gay people are, but they’re weird!). Other than that, these people were largely invisible. Once a year they crawled out of the woodwork for a parade in which they danced on floats, and their pants had no backsides. Being gay would condemn me to these outskirts of society, and I wanted no part of it.
For me, coming out was like walking down an endless hallway having doors slammed in my face on either side. My mother slammed the door. My siblings and friends and coworkers slammed their doors. When I came to the door of my beloved mentor from high school, I couldn’t even knock. For her to slam the door in my face would have broken my heart. So I walked on, letting the relationship lapse, because I couldn’t risk it. This was wrong of me not to give her a chance, but I had nothing left.
The hallway is endless because it will go on as long as I breathe on this earth. Sometimes it’s easier to withdraw from these doors altogether. To be judged on a part of myself that I don’t control, a part that impacts other lives not one bit, a part I don’t even consider that interesting makes me angry. I’m the equal of the people on the other side of those doors. Being gay tells you nothing about the kind of person I am, any more than being blonde or right-handed or freckled does. If you know someone is gay, that’s all you know. It is part of their definition, but it does not define them.
President Obama opened the door this week. What he said will change very little, and at the same time, it changes much. He acknowledged that being gay is an irrelevant criterion when judging worth, that my sexuality isn’t the punch line of a joke, that I am seen. I’m not sick, and you can’t fix what isn’t broken. I don’t deserve to be relegated to the fringe, to receive a smaller cookie than my straight siblings. It may be another forty years before that is recognized in legislation, but this week I heard that there is no contradiction between I’m gay and I’m whole.
* My brother’s FACEPALM view of the world:
Jews are just afraid to believe in Jesus, and if they would only try, they would be so much happier! C’mon, Jews! Rock the boat and give yourselves over to Jesus!
Dishes aren’t fun. Therefore, it is women’s work while he plays video games, because those are fun. Also, girls are delicate flowers who don’t possess the ability to fart.
** My mother’s FACEPALM view of the world:
The Spanish Expulsion of Jews in 1492 was the right thing to do.
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ADOPTED GRANDCHILD:
An adopted grandchild would not be allowed to come in her front door. No, sir! To the back with you! Only natural grandchildren in the front!
ON REALIZING YOU’RE GAY:
Suck it up and pretend to be straight. If you pretend long enough and hard enough, you will be straight. You see, being gay is unfair to the opposite sex. They have a right to your body. They have the right to ask you out with the possibility of hearing yes. If you are gay, you have taken away that possibility. That is unfair to straight people. It isn’t nice to take away their rights.
To all of the straight people out there who lust after Caulay C. Hunter with no hope of return, I apologize for denying you your rights. Maybe one day I’ll evolve.