I didn’t know how to start this article. Normally I put some awful pun about being gay, or try and quote some middle-aged author who has somehow managed to create a quip about gay rights. It’s a good formulation. I’m hilarious. But in my comedy gold, I’ve done something completely regrettable. I’ve trivialised being gay.
Homosexuality is not this glorious form of self-expression: I don’t scream ‘Yas Queen’ when my flatmate Sophie does a slut-drop in SWX, nor do I quote ‘Mean Girls’ in my Instagram bio. Growing up gay is not fun, it is not an excuse to have fun and break stereotypes. It’s heartbreaking. When you first realise you might be attracted to the same sex, you are not excited. You are not curious. You are devastated. You spend years hoping it was a phase. Praying that the fact you just checked out my friend’s ass (Jack, it is phenomenal) in the locker room was something that will just blow over. This is why homophobia is so challenging. It is not the fear of being chased down the road by the local vicar claiming he can convert you to the grace of God. I, myself, have loved Jesus. And Mike…Harry…Tom. Instead, homophobia is the careful and calculating way of in an instance reducing you to an individual who is not proud of their achievements, but ashamed of their very nature.
I remember sitting in a cafe with a guy I was (then) dating and after he fixed my scarf, hearing over my shoulder ‘Those two are disgusting. They shouldn’t do that in public’. Now, pray excuse my blunder, but I was expecting some uneducated English Defence League knob behind me. It wasn’t. It was a selection of middle aged, middle class women who (probably) were very highly educated. Now most who know me would expect me to challenge her. I was expected to confront her, question her views. But I didn’t — I said nothing. I sat there, silent. Close to tears, feeling so embarrassed and ashamed of myself that I couldn't speak. I couldn't even bear to catch their eye in case they knew I heard. The thing with gay guys and homophobia is not that you blame the homophobe. You blame yourself. You were reckless, stupid — it was a situation you could have avoided if you had just avoided the PDA. I wasn’t angry at the women, I was angry at myself. By frivolously allowing someone I was dating to fix my scarf, I had, in essence, brought it upon myself.
Now, many people will argue this is stupid rationality. And they’re probably right. It’s not my issue, but theirs. But this completely ignores the years of constant and relentless careful behaviour you enforce upon yourself. In the cafe I had broken the cardinal rule I had set upon myself — avoid acting gay. Protection in your own individuals sized closet is something every gay guy comes accustomed to. Not expressing being gay, will, in most public circumstances, be a safe and relatively easy choice to make.
Unlike the rest of the LGBT community I don’t know what the answer is. I wont reinforce the pressure put on by other members of the LGBT community to challenge homophobic views. I’m not the individual to scream ‘homophobe’ at every person who makes a gay joke at my expense (to be fair, most of them, like my articles, are hilarious). Im not even a person who has stopped using gay as an insult since I came out (old habits etc, etc). I'm just telling what can only be described as a tragic story to help show that although I am thick-headed, ostentatious, arrogant, pretentious dick — someone, even a stranger, can make me ashamed of who I am by a simple passing remark.