I’m gay. Whether or not I, or anyone wants to believe it, it’s an important part of me. I love being gay, but I hate being gay. Well, “hate” might be a strong word. It makes it sound like being gay is a truly miserable experience. I love it more than I hate it, but society doesn’t make it easy to love being gay. But if you don’t love being gay, people will try to change you. By default, if you want your life to be easier, more fulfilled, and less impaired by your own, downward spiraling thoughts, you almost have to love being gay. Of course, I don’t feel forced to love being gay. That just happened due to a small desire to spite everyone who thought that I would hate myself after coming out, but a side effect from it was actually being comfortable in my own skin. I have to live with it every minute of every damn day of my life, so anyone who tries to make me feel like shit about it would have a more productive time forcing their words down a garbage disposal.

I wouldn’t ever tell someone that I don’t love being gay, because first of all, it’s not true. I love it way more than I hate it, because this community I’ve ended up in is the most loving, accepting, and powerful community I’ve ever been a part of. It’s put me in a community that truly understands me without feeling like they have to infiltrate my personal life. They understand me without me even having to ask if they understand me. They make me feel comfortable, safe, and accepted just for existing, whereas straight people create the feeling of crippling uncertainty. I’m not necessarily crippled by how uncertain I become, but the uncertainty itself is so crippled, it takes a good amount of hobbling before it can see itself out. 

The community isn’t all beautiful rainbows and unicorns, though, that’s for damn sure. I love being gay, and I love the gay community, but sometimes, I kind of hate being in it. Sometimes I wish the community would get itself a moral face lift, because we can’t tuck away those racist, masculine-worshiping, misogynistic, elitist attitudes unless we’re all willing to tactfully pull that skin back. A procedure like that requires the power of choice, and lord knows only a fraction of us have used that power. Of course, if we really want to eradicate that kind of behavior, it would take more than a face life. But, you know, baby steps. Regardless, you’d think a community that’s known for being vain would hate having that kind of a blemish. 

I hate being in it because it can be just as isolating as it is welcoming. We separate ourselves into twinks, jocks, bears, otters, tops, bottoms, and so many other random, arguably unnecessary categories. We have to find our place in a community where we already feel like we have one, and if we don’t struggle to find a place among a group where we should feel welcomed, we basically become a blank page in a coloring book with no direction on which hue goes where. They’ll color us incorrectly, or think that one color is actually another, filling in our identity with a shade of their choosing, and putting us into a box of their creation. You’re probably thinking “Jeff, straight people do this, too. Why is it a gay thing?” You’re right, of course. However, this “gay thing” shouldn’t be a thing when being gay, or any other part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, is already it’s own thing that people can’t color correctly. I don’t want to have to define myself again in a community that has to define itself constantly.

I hate that we celebrate “pride,” but don’t take pride in the diversity within a community that’s already considered diverse in society. We come together and celebrate how our identities make us stronger, and how we’re all beautiful, complex, and inspirational in different ways, but only if you’re beautiful, complex, and inspirational according to some mysterious gay doctrine. I wish I could describe the gay doctrine for a better impact, but I’m pretty sure it just has something to do with “being gay enough.” I hate that I can walk into a Pride festival and immediately revert to isolation when I see bodybuilders in underwear talking only to other bodybuilders in their underwear, when I had felt the most warm, welcoming vibes just moments before. Am I not allowed to celebrate by covering my lack of abs with a Trixie Mattel t-shirt, with some denim shorts that go just above the knee? Does the doctrine say that this is “gay enough?” I should probably read it before I attend another Pride event.

I hate that gay boys with abs will post pictures on Instagram with only their other gay friends who have abs; did the average-to-plus-sized friends shoved to the side right before they took the photo? I hate that our bodies are fetishized or ridiculed. I hate that even our racial identities are treated pretty much the same way. I hate that so many of us say they “don’t really want to date, right now” when they really just don’t want to date you, or I, or somebody with a beautiful personality who just wants an honest answer. I hate that we argue about monogamy and polyamory when it’s nobody’s business but your own as to whether or not you should participate in it. I hate that if you’re not “masc,” then you’re femme, and if you’re femme, then you’re “basically a girl,” but if you’re neither, then you might as well just be femme. I hate that we put so much importance on being “femme” or “masc” when being either, both, or neither of those things is only a small fraction of what makes someone attractive. I hate that many of us think the LG is more important than the BTQ+. I hate that we appear to hate each other in times when we need to love each other.

I hate that we can’t be more functional, but I guess that just wouldn’t be realistic. 

Families always have some form of dysfunction. They don’t always love everything about each other, but that doesn’t mean they stop loving each other. Though I hate our dysfunction, I’m far from hating us. I love being in this community, because it’s humbling to know that I have this community to make me feel more accepted. I love being in this community because though we have moments of tearing each other down, and moments of judgment, the amount of love we have to give is bigger than I’ve ever seen come out of any other community. I love being in this community because I have never felt more accepted, more in-place, and more free to be who I am. Sure, we often don’t accept each other over the most trivial things, but in the end, we all love each other in the face of having one aspect of ourselves that society may not ever fully accept. I’ll deal with all of the shortcomings if it means that this one thing keeps us knitted tighter than any community out there. 

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