by Samuel Garcia
When I came out after many years in the closet, my friends were very surprised. Their reaction was not unexpected, I had hidden a part of myself from the world for 18, almost 19 years. What was unexpected were some of the reactions I got from acquaintances. Some claimed that they could tell I was gay by the way I walked, stood, or dressed. In the months after I came out, as more people heard the news, some were shocked. The people I had known for years were surprised that I hadn’t changed any, that I didn’t adapt to fit a role that culture has predetermined. The fact is that I didn’t change any because nothing about me was new. New people I met commented on how I didn’t fit the “gay” picture.
The word “gay” often conjures up stereotypical images of a skinny, white man with a high-pitched voice. These preconceptions typically fall flat when the person prejudging actually meets and gets to know some who is LGBTQA. So, is there really such a thing as a “gaydar,” some built-in detector that goes off when we pass someone of a different sexual orientation? What is it that makes a voice sound “gay?” What looks “gay?”
Even though I knew the negative reactions to my coming out stemmed from a limited point-of-view, it still hurt. The comments that hurt the most were from people who questioned if I were really even gay. They did not realize that homosexuality was something I questioned my whole life, something I beat myself up about for years. I was ashamed, hurt, and broken by this point because my spiritual leaders told me my sexual preference was a sin, that I was not normal. Now I know they were wrong to deny my sexual orientation.
The question that was the most aggravating is “how do you know you’re gay if you never have done anything with a female.” Who are they to confirm who I am? How do you know your straight and not gay if you’ve never done anything with your gender?
In my experience, being gay was not a choice. I know that my life would have been easier, perhaps, if I had been “normal.” If I were a straight man, I would have not let my family down. I would have loved having biological children. Life might have been a whole lot easier if I were straight. But the most important thing is to be comfortable with whomever you are. Do not let others determine your destination, be it a college or career path or sexual preference. You are who you say you are!