The first person I came out to was my high school English teacher. And before I get any further into this story- no, I did not come out to her because I trusted her or looked up to her as some kind of role model. In fact, I actually hated the bitch. I came out to her because I knew it would guarantee me an “A” on my final.
You see, we were assigned a final essay that involved us writing the first chapter in the story of our lives. I felt very uninspired by the topic and by the course itself which made writing the essay incredibly frustrating. And my teacher was not the gentlest of graders- in fact, she hardly ever gave out any “A’s”. And after getting a poor grade in the class a quarter earlier, I decided to do what I had to do to guarantee a good grade in the class. So I played the gay card. I knew that my egotistically maniacal teacher would LOVE to hear that she was the first person I came out to and I knew that the ego stroke would make her grade me in a more favorable light. I mean how could she give me a poor grade? I was the first person she came out to! As far as she knew she was my savior.
Now don’t get me wrong, being gay is not at all a walk in the park. But instead of looking at me being gay as some sort of handicap I’ve learned to strategically employ my identity to get ahead in life. In classes I’ve used my homosexuality as a way of setting myself apart from classmates. I was the most well liked boy in my Women’s Studies class because I was the only gay one. I had a different story than my straight classmates, I had a certain kind of vulnerability and individuality that made me somehow more worthwhile in the class. It’s almost as if I got a free pass from her condemnation of men because I operated outside of the standard of what it means to be a man.
Where’s other places I “play the homosexuality card?” I play it when I interact with women, especially the one’s I’m just meeting. Girls have a tendency to like how sassy and effeminate I am and it helps me to land new friends. I’ve found that being gay has made it easier for me to get away with saying certain incredulous things. In fact, I’m much more likely than a straight guy to get away with calling a girl slutty or fat. It’s as if being gay is somehow a free card to say and do whatever I want. I mean what are they going to do? Punch the poor, cute gay guy? I also plan on using the homosexuality card when I audition for the Real World or Big Brother. I mean I have to play it while being gay is still seen as being trendy!
It’s my opinion that all people, majority and minority, have some way of using their social identity as leverage. Although, each group has different leveraging power. Straight, white men certainly have more opportunities in life than black, trans* women and I don’t think people should feel guilty about living their lives in a strategic manner. The issue is that we shouldn’t use our identity in a way that promotes dishonesty or any unethical behavior. I mean what I did to my teacher was certainly not the most ethical of things and I know that. But it’s something that I did. And you know what, sometimes people do bad things and that’s okay. I mean we all do unethical things at some point in our lives, as long as we’re not doing any real damage what’s the harm?
Beyond ethics, I think that our minority status impacts our own individual identities. My experiences as a gay man have shaped who I am as a person. I think a lot of my humor and creativity stems from the fact that I’m gay. Being an outcast led me to pursuing creative outlets, such as theater, which helped me find my passions and become a more artistic person. In fact, I’m kind of glad I’m not a straight guy because I’d be boring as shit. The point is- I’m gay, I’ll always be gay (unless science intervenes) and that will always play a role in what I do and how I do it.