Thoughts on being closeted.
Full disclosure before I continue with this: I am a gay man. As for my gender identity, after research and personal exploration, I have come to realize it is very likely that I am nonbinary. For those unfamiliar, that means identifying as something that is not fully described as either male or female. In my case, it's more like I identify as male in certain areas and female in other areas. If that sounds weird, I can assure you; yeah, it kind of is. But there's really nothing wrong with weird. It just means it's different. It really doesn't change too much for me around here because I am fine with identifying with him/his pronouns.
So, what is it like to be closeted? What is it like to be queer in the modern age? If personal identity does not define a person's content of character, then why is this such a big issue? These are all questions I hope to address and answer by the end of this entry. Before I answer these, I think it would help if I explained what growing up was like. This is just a quick synopsis.
As a child, I originally had crushes on girls. They were just crushes and they only went as far as imagining holding hands or maybe a peck on the cheek. Once I hit my teenaged years, however, I noticed that those crushes had limits. Middle school was a very confusing time. I never expected to be queer. It was also when everyone stopped being nice and started using crude humor. Among them, the word "gay" was used to be synonymous with "stupid." I was scared. I was already being bullied at the time. I grew up overweight and I was teased for it once I hit middle school. At the time I didn't tell my family about it. I knew they would yell and get angry. I was tired of that. I didn't want yelling, I wanted to be what at the time I thought was normal. I was afraid of more bullying if anyone found out.
So, I tried to deny it. I told myself that I was just bi or that I was pansexual after I learned what that was later. I didn't want to be gay. I didn't want to be queer and questioning. I just wanted to be accepted, and my peers clearly would not accept me. Being gay wasn't the problem, it was, for the most part, how my peers treated the subject of homosexuality.
Time passed and I went into highschool. My friends at the time were less than progressive on the subject of homosexuality, to put it lightly. I was afraid. Long story short, our friendship was toxic for everyone involved and I cut ties with them. I got pretty depressed after that. I felt like I needed a distraction, and online games like Runescape, Gaia Online and Virtual Magic Kingdom were fun enough. I still wanted human contact, even if I was afraid of talking to anyone in my family or seeking help from peers. Chatting and goofing around online was enough, even if it was just a text-based communication. And time continued to pass and I made friends. We joked around and gossiped. We shared secrets and complained about heavy subjects over time. And once I hit my junior year, I started reconnecting with old acquaintances in school. And the same things happened there as well. I ended up telling one friend from each group that I was queer. They were both women.
Now, I know this can be a touchy subject, and every situation is different. However, the biggest offenders, the people I was afraid of the most? They were always men. That's not to say I wasn't around homophobic women, I was. However, there is a world of difference between hearing a person who happened to be a woman say "I disagree with it, and I don't think homosexuality actually exists." and a person who happens to be a man threatening violence, constantly complaining, and expressing worries about "the ones who are normal" (as in they don't act stereotypically flamboyant or have a voice without an accent) and claiming they are something to be feared. And I personally have yet to encounter a woman who acts in such a manner, even when they hold similar beliefs. And don't misunderstand me here: I am a man. I know that we are not all like this. However, the people I fear the most? They are problematic, aggressive men who do not know what they are talking about. And in my new group of friends in highschool, there were men I wasn't afraid of.
They were just dudes that didn't express an opinion either way or honestly didn't care. Also, there was a reason I didn't tell all of my female friends that I was queer and questioning. I was afraid of them too. I only told two people at this time in the entire world that I was queer. The only reason I came out to them was because we developed a close friendship. And even then, that's not always enough. I had a male best friend since we were in elementary school. We talked about almost everything. I cut ties with him, even though he was a good friend just because I was worried how he might react if he found out. He wasn't the most progressive person at the time, and neither was I, as much as it pains me to say it.
Something that really helped me at the time was the author Hans Christain Andersen. The author of the Ugly Ducking, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen among others? He'd written letters confessing his love to not only women, but also to men in his lifetime. Not only that, but scholars speculate one of his stories, The Snowman, was based on a relationship he had with a man. It's likely that there is a fairy tale about being queer. When I found out, I was ecstatic. I'd been feeling alone and isolated for such a long time, and this famous author that people base movies off of to this day, was like me. Even if his situation was different from my own, that was a tremendous help. It helped me realize that I wasn't unnatural. It made me realize that I'm probably not even the first member in the history of my family that was queer. His stories and his history gave me hope in a time when I needed it the most.
After highschool, I went off to college. I went from the countryside to a city, and I was way out of my element. I had a lot of anxiety still and I was also going through a depression that had never really left from my sophomore year of high school. When I got to my baking and patisserie classes, I noticed that over half of my class consisted of women. Half of the men in the class, as I would later learn, were queer. No one really talked about it, but it did come up in conversation. And the men taking the classes? None of them were really that problematic. I was probably the biggest issue to be honest, and I was just clumsy and socially awkward. And not being around any problematic and aggressive men? It was refreshing, even if it was just for one class. My roomates both took issue with homosexuality. I only really feared one of them, though. Being a man is not an issue; being problematic and aggressive is the issue based on my experience (I'm saying this a lot because it's a hot topic right now. Sorry if this gets old). Do I regret not talking about this with other queer people when I had the chance? Yes. Those conversations that never happened probably could have saved me loads of problems. I didn't because I felt like I would just be an annoyance.
And after that, I moved back home and I'm still here now. I've got a job, and I've been making a lot of progress. I'm out to my brothers and certain members of my social group that I've known for years and feel safe around. As for telling my parents, I ask myself one question every day: "Do I feel safe telling my family about my identity?" Every day, the answer is "No." Not yet. There is a world of difference between saying you'd accept someone and then actually accepting them. I should know. I've said for years that I don't care if someone's gay, and then there I was struggling to accept myself for the majority of my life. Honestly, I knew I was gay sometime when I was in college. I accepted that part of myself a little after that. As for my gender identity, I've only just come to terms with the fact that it's pointing away from cisgendered. Personally, if I could have chosen, it would have been something that wouldn't have been anywhere near as problematic to fit society.
So, what is it like to be closeted? It makes me feel unsafe around the people who are closest to me. What is it like coming to terms with being queer in the modern day? Honestly, it was a lot of unnecessary fear and doubt. And the problem was not just with me, but also with the people around me and the enviroment I was in. If a personal identity does not define a person's content of character, then why is this issue being discussed? Because even in the modern day I grew up miserable when I didn't have to. I could have gotten treated for my depression sooner. It's even possible that I wouldn't have been depressed. I could have saved myself more than one existential crisis. I am one of the lucky ones. Many have it worse. I am turning twenty three tomorrow. Not everyone makes it to that age. That terrifies me.
Honestly, if nothing else, I can say this experience has been an eye-opener.
I asked B6 if this blog entry would be allowed. I was told that as long as I kept it true to a personal experience and kept political stances out, it would be fine. I tried to do just that the best I could.
I'm locking this entry because I know this can be a sensitive issue. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to send me a PM.