Never Straight


I’ve been struggling to write about this for years: I do not remember a time when I meaningfully was parsed as straight. Even conservative family members who wouldn’t willingly have understood me as gay nevertheless knew to treat me as a nelly. Long before I came out as gay, I was visibly-gay enough to be targeted for sexual violence by a gay man, my viola teacher, who won my trust by being ‘someone I can talk to about it’. (I never did talk to him about it. He didn’t need my confirmation.)

And I came out at eleven, to my entire school (well, to my sixth-grade science class; it was immediately common knowledge). It is easy for people to hear this as an encouraging sign of progress, a touching liberal cliché, rather than the desperate last stand of a cornered child. It made my life harder, to have people Know in my own words, but the writing was on the wall long before I confirmed it.

It is difficult to verbalize how I feel about gay people who came out as adults. Jealousy is not really it. Frustration is part of it. Voyeuristic curiosity makes up an embarrassing portion of it. And, as with all my gay siblings and brothers and sisters who have not specifically invited my scorn, the bulk of my feelings is love and awe and compassion.

Not knowing your sexuality is painful, I hear. I don’t really know; the first time I had a sexual feeling, it was the last piece in a thousand-part puzzle, and I knew all at once. Being forced to hide is painful, I hear. I don’t really know; when I started hiding, immediately after that first gay desire, it was already far too late to conceal what I was. Nine months later, I conceded the point.

It is very painful to be bullied by peers and abused by teachers for being so rude as to make my faggotry overt. Middle school is hard on gay kids, and it was very hard on me.

I have never been acceptable as a straight person. I have only gotten more clearly-impossible-to-be-straight with time and transsexuality. It is inconceivable to me what it must be like, to have the option to hide and thus be hidden, to not know and thus be unknown. I have always been a lightning rod for homophobia, earlier than anyone else I knew. I cannot be normal, I cannot make being gay marginal to my personality, I cannot fantasize ways of being gay that need no reference to homophobic violence.

Every memory I have is shaped by homophobic violence. It is stamped in me deep. I will not apologize for being warped by it; I will not disown my bitterness.