What gave me away?

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It was almost a year ago that I first saw a video of Panti Bliss giving an impassioned talk at the Abbey Theatre in Ireland. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve never had to deal with the level of abuse that she describes, but it makes me incredibly sad to think of the many LGBTQ people who do face such overt hatred.

Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car drives by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window and they shout “Fag!” and throw a milk carton at you?

Now it doesn’t really hurt. It’s just a wet carton and anyway they’re right – I am a fag. But it feels oppressive.

When it really does hurt, is afterwards. Afterwards I wonder and worry and obsess over what was it about me, what was it they saw in me? What was it that gave me away? And I hate myself for wondering that. It feels oppressive and the next time I’m at a pedestrian crossing I check myself to see what is it about me that “gives the gay away” and I check myself to make sure I’m not doing it this time.

That part I can relate to, as I imagine many LGBTQ people can. I’m not talking about the abusive behavior, which somehow I’ve largely escaped. But rather the self-doubt that turns to self-hatred. The persistent fear that I will be “found out.”

Have any of you ever come home in the evening and turned on the television and there is a panel of people – nice people, respectable people, smart people, the kind of people who make good neighbourly neighbours and write for newspapers. And they are having a reasoned debate about you. About what kind of a person you are, about whether you are capable of being a good parent, about whether you want to destroy marriage, about whether you are safe around children, about whether God herself thinks you are an abomination, about whether in fact you are “intrinsically disordered”. And even the nice TV presenter lady who you feel like you know thinks it’s perfectly ok that they are all having this reasonable debate about who you are and what rights you “deserve”.

And that feels oppressive.

I let this happens to myself far too often. I keep revisiting the same online forums where I read this kind of debate, this hostility, this hatred. I tell myself I do it because I don’t want to be the kind of person who shuts out anyone who disagrees. But maybe I’m just a masochist.

Have you ever been on a crowded train with your gay friend and a small part of you is cringing because he is being SO gay and you find yourself trying to compensate by butching up or nudging the conversation onto “straighter” territory? This is you who have spent 35 years trying to be the best gay possible and yet still a small part of you is embarrassed by his gayness.

And I hate myself for that. And that feels oppressive.

If you haven’t seen Panti’s talk, it’s worth a watch.

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14 comments

  1. I live in pretty much constant fear of being found out. I was sure having Grindr on my phone would get me fired. I worry about what people would think if they found out that I liked guys and was married to a woman.

    But then sometimes I just want everyone to know. I need to be careful what I wish for.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes – the being married to a woman certainly adds a layer of complexity. :-/

      Just curious – your fear of being fired, is it because you work for a religious organization, or something like that? Or just the regular old abstract fear that bad things could happen if people find out, because of prejudice, etc.?

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      1. I think that it is largely just an abstract fear. It’s not a religious organization and my state has LGBT employment protections. I just know that if my work were to find out, it would change my life utterly and completely. I worried thatI was identifiable on Grindr even though I had hidden “my location” mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to turn the app off. Eventually I deleted it for other reasons, but it still kind of scared me.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I guess, at the most basic level, I just wish I wouldn’t have been so afraid to just be myself and see where that would have led me. I wrote a little about it in my post on OGTs – “Obviously Gay Traits” ( https://gregcomesout.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/embracing-my-ogts/ )

          There were things that I was good at, that I was afraid to pursue, because I was afraid it would make me look “gay.” That’s so pointless and so wrong! Imagine if we said things like, “Oh, I don’t want to do this because it will make me look like I have brown hair.” “I don’t want to do that because it will make me look like I’m 5’11″” I AM those things, so why the angst, right?

          I hope for young people today to grow up without that pointless line of thought.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello. I hated that I could be fired from jobs I have had and was really good at because I was gay. I have had to deal with insults from gay bashers at places where I worked. I have had my stuff vandalized just because I was gay. I was assaulted by my supervisor who then claimed he was just fooling around with me “guy to guy” style and I was too sensitive. I scored highest on the promotion list, and passed the supervisor test with the highest score ever and was passed over because I am gay. I think the saddest part was these people doing this stuff to me thought they were right and they were justified in acting this way because I was the one who was wrong. That is why I think people who get on TV and radio and say such hurtful untrue stuff about gays and politicians who make hate laws against gay people are so harmful. They give cover to these people who felt it was OK to hurt and harm me. Hugs.

    Like

  3. Scottie – wow. When I think of what a positive presence you are on your blog and in your comments to others, it’s amazing to see such a litany of ways you’ve been mistreated. It’s a testament to your inner strength that throughout it all you’ve remained true to yourself and kind to others. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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