Before I make any sweeping statements or wax philosophically, I feel the need to say that it’s pretty clear to the world that I’m a flaming homosexual. I’m tiny, I employ the limp wrist at a moment’s notice and I get heated whenever anyone brings about the Lady Gaga vs Madonna debate. Now I don’t necessarily think or believe that my personality stems from my homosexuality. I prefer to think that from a young age I knew that I was different and that I cultivated interests and friendships with people who were less likely to judge me and who were open minded. For the most part, my effeminate personality has helped more than hindered me in life. My love of Pretty Little Liars, celebrity culture and drag has helped me when befriending girls and gays. In high school I had a large network of friends and I think that one of the reasons this blog has been successful is because of my sassy sense of humor and gay persona.
With that being said, there have been times that my personality and behavior has put me in rather uncomfortable situations. I remember being teased and called “faggot” in middle school. I remember students staring me down while dressed in drag for the student drag show at my college. But for the most part the feelings of discomfort and isolation have been perpetuated more by myself and others. And I think this is what people who aren’t a minority or who haven’t truly been bullied don’t understand. They see bullying and intolerance as something that is perpetuated by others. Simply put, if people aren’t calling me a faggot or threatening me than I don’t really have the right to say that it’s difficult to be a gay man or that the negative feelings I have are justifiable.
But after years of bullying and judgment all of these feelings become internalized and self imposed. I don’t need to be bullied or beaten up to feel like an outsider or that I’m inconveniencing people just by existing. For example, whenever I am on the train or subway and I have to sit next to an older man or any person that seems a bit rough around the edges I automatically feel uncomfortable. I sit there, uncross my legs and I turn my music down so that they can’t hear what it is that I’m listening to. I try to make myself disappear and be as nonexistent to them as possible because I don’t want to cause problems for them or myself.
There’s this culture often imposed by the majority on the minority that often times when something bad happens to them it is because they were asking for it. People think that if I walk around with a limp wrist or audibly listen to Britney Spears that I somehow deserve to be called faggot or that it is somehow okay for that person to call me that. And what’s worse is that I often employ that method of thinking- I often catch myself rolling my eyes at an obviously gay person on the train and judge them for what I believe to be an ostentatious, unnecessary social presentation. I’ve been conditioned to judge anyone operating out of the social norms for being attention seeking or crazy. And what’s worse is that I’m often consciously doing it because when I do it I get to escape being part of the minority for just a second. When someone invites you in on the joke you’ve become assimilated and often times we’re willing to do anything to be included in the group.
It’s possible that when I’m on the train that no one gives a flying fuck about what I’m dressed like or what music I’m listening to. At the same time, however, there have been several incidents where I’ve caught a man across from me glaring at me simply for minding my own business. It doesn’t matter that I’m being silent and keeping to myself- to him, I’m an inconvenience and an abomination simply for existing in his world. And what can you do about that? I can’t stand up and yell at him or tell someone that he’s glaring at me or making me uncomfortable. It’s not like he’s yelling at me or beating me up. But sometimes just looking at someone with disgust is just as bad if not worse than those other two things.
The sad reality is that we don’t need people telling us we’re inferior to feel inferior ourselves. And people love to say, “Be yourself” and “don’t care about what other people think” but that’s so much easier said than done. It’s extremely difficult to be yourself when you feel like it would be so much easier for everyone if you weren’t. And at the end of the day it’s not like I sacrifice my entire self. All I do is turn down my music a bit to make a 30 minute commute less awkward for myself and others. Is 30 minutes of that a day or a week really worth complaining over? We all have to do things in life that inconvenience us. And maybe there are people in the majority that have to do the same thing. Who knows? All I can say is that you can’t stop me from listening to my Mandy Moore, goddammit. Even if it does mean that I have to listen to it at the lowest volume level possible.