I can't tell you the number of times, as a result of this blog, I've given a gay person the advice to accept his sexual orientation, because he is what he is. And to hate what you are essentially amounts to hating yourself, or, at least, a critical aspect of yourself–one you can't turn your back on and still live a fulfilled life. But I wonder if it's ever truly possible to make peace with being gay, to get over what you are completely.
Perhaps I'm only kidding myself, but I think I look gayer some days more than others. That is, sometimes, I think I do a better job of hiding it. Like when I'm unshaven for a week, wear clothing that would look appropriately masculine on any male, and put a cap on my head. Then, maybe, I might just pass as straight. Like I said, maybe.
Sometimes, I just don't want to look gay. I've attracted enough attention to myself over the years. Now that I'm in my mid-fifties, all I want to do is get from point A to point B without anyone noticing me. All I want to do is go about my business, just like everyone else, not have to face the looks I get from some people, and be reminded of the way I'm different.
Take today for example. I shaved this morning, and my hair turned out a little swoopier in front than I would have liked.
Before I left to go to Save-On Foods, to pick up a few groceries, I looked in the bathroom mirror. Gay. I looked gay. I saw it, and I knew some people who saw me would too. Should I hide under a cap, cover my swoopy bangs? Or should I say, "Fuck it, they can think whatever they like; they're no better than me"?
I decided to go cap-less. I also wore a pair of khaki walking shorts, a navy blue "Grouse Grind" T-shirt, and running shoes. At least I thought my attire worked for me.
So there I was, walking through Save-On Foods, toward the self-checkout, and I passed a man, obviously straight. Taller than me and about as grey-haired, he looked grubby, like he'd just gotten off work. I saw him take a glance at me.
And, in that instant, the look that crossed his face was the one I've seen countless times over the years–the very one I needed most to avoid today. In that instant, I saw him judge me, make an assumption about me, right or wrong, saying what he thought of me without uttering a single word.
For all the advances gay people in general have made over the decades, there are still those who will always disapprove of us, no matter what. They don't have to say what they think about me to my face. I'm not stupid. Their expressions say it for them.
Most of the time, I can shrug it all off, tell myself that whatever he thinks about me is his problem, not mine. Most of the time, I feel positive enough about myself to make that choice, to feel impermeable to the judgments of others.
But not today. I was out of sorts. Something was bugging me, and I didn't know what. All I knew was, I didn't feel like myself. So those looks I'm used to getting, that I've learned to shrug off…well, they're difficult to take sometimes.
Honestly, I don't think I should have to take them–ever. Because I don't think I should ever have to receive them. I don't deserve them. I don't think anyone has the right to look at me the way he–and it's always a he–did.
This is my appearance. I have no choice about that. Like it or not, it's how I present myself to the world. And I'm sorry I can't look the way you'd like me to (although, admittedly, I sometimes try). I'm sorry the gay person I put out there offends your sensibilities. I'm sorry you have to know I'm here when you look into my face, when you see what I wear, when you watch me walk, when you listen to me talk.
But, most of all, I'm sorry you have the opinion you do of gay people. Because, if you got to know me, you'd find I'm not so bad, after all. Actually, I'm a lot like you. I'm in a long-term relationship, I love my partner very much, I live a settled life. And I struggle with getting older, and fulfilling my purpose, and making a difference, just like you do.
So what do you gain by looking at me that way? Does it somehow make you feel superior to me? Do you see yourself as being right, and me as being wrong? Do you wonder why people like me can't just go away, so you don't have to look at us, so you don't have to deal with us, so you don't have to be reminded we're here? And so your children don't have to look at us, they don't have to be exposed to us, and they don't learn people like us exist?
I'm okay with being gay. Or, at least, I've learned to be okay with it, because it's what I am, and what I will always be, and what choice do I have? I just wish I didn't have to look like me…sometimes.
Okay, all the time. Because I'm tried of being judged. And because I never know when I'll be made to feel like I did all those years ago, when I hated myself, when I wished I was anywhere but here.