Be proud: I’ve been peppered with little reminders lately that I live in a straight world. The most recent example: I told some of our co-op students today that I grappled with learning French last year and found it really difficult. This was met with a pretty predictable response: “You just need to find a French girlfriend!” And I laughed it off, I said something like, “Haha, well, hey!” I need to do more. I’m a proud gay man and I don’t want to be afraid to share the fact that I’m in a relationship with a wonderful guy, especially somewhere like the office where I feel comfortable and safe. Taking this small step for myself is going to make a tiny impact on the world around me and will help to make other gay men safer and more comfortable too, I hope. Small steps.
I appreciate it. Reading Jamieson’s goals for the new year, I’m reminded that as a gay white cis male (often cast as N. America’s lone politically ascendant minority of the 2010s), I too still live a double life and feel this most strongly as a linguistic burden. I work at a public school, and while on one level I’ve never felt so comfortable and safe at a workplace, I guess I really don’t feel comfortable and safe, because almost daily I find myself readjusting my language to avoid using the words “my boyfriend” (of six years! and a close friend for a decade! and intertwined with my life in such basic ways–money, transportation, meals, free time–that to not mention him must make me appear as some kind of phantom, with no physical existence in the outside world). And I feel I’m betraying him much more than I’m betraying myself. Even outside of work I’ve never found a way to use the words casually, so every time someone asks me if I have a girlfriend and I simply say “no” and change the subject, I burrow a little deeper inside myself. If gay men become talented writers, I sometimes feel it’s partly thanks to the constant syntactical work demanded by our deflections every time we leave home, and to the particular kind of interiority and introspective nature this creates. Aside: I’ve tended to prefer Perfume Genius when he’s challenging the kinds of sounds and sentiments that the listener typically equates with power, but maybe right now I need “Queen” more than I need “Take Me Home,” if you know what I mean.