May 1997

My topic of choice today is mostly inspired by a misguided need to get on IRC. IRC is the only place I have even been (I've never been to the headquarters of Coloradans for Family Values or Newt Gingrich's office, so this is absolutely true) where the word faggot is an accepted and widely-use insult. I had not been on for more than thirty seconds before everyone on my channel was echoing the well-placed, eloquent comment of one of their peers: "Enough talk of homos; it's making me freaking SICK!"

Naively, I supposed that I might make it through the rest of my session without seeing such silliness again. A fluke, that's all it was. Five minutes or so passed before all the young people present were hurling epithets at each other. (Hurling epithets and begging for porn seem to be the primary if not sole activities of frequent IRC visitors.) "Faggot!" "Your a faggot!!!!!!!" (Notice the misuse of the possessive "your" in the place of the contraction "you're." The other major pastime of many chatters seems to be plastering their ignorance all over screens worldwide.)

So, still hopelessly naive, I surfed off to another channel that didn't have "teen" in the title. I was hoping, I suppose, to find more maturity if not better grammar. The only difference here was that the word FAGGOT was capitalized and highlighted in red, green, and black. I posted something snippy about this being the nineties and cleared the scene.

I go to a very tolerant school where homosexuality and bisexuality are less accepted than worshipped or coveted as valuable signs of liberality and worldliness. In fact, one of my favorite jokes to emphasize my own straightness (hey, I don't need anyone suspecting, thanks very much.) is that I go to the gayest school in the nation. Of last year's senior class of fifty students, at least twenty were openly gay or "bisexual." (The technical term for this state of keeping-all-the-options-open bisexuality, by the way, is BUG or Bisexual Until Graduation.) Recently, I had been wondering if it wouldn't be all right to come out since so many of the students (even the straight ones) at my school had done it so successfully.

While IRC cannot be construed to be even slightly in touch with "reality," it certainly did give me a healthy reality check. No, it would not be OK to come out, not unless I had some sort of masochistic wish to lose everything I have. Our crunchy counselors and advisors, online and otherwise, would have us believe that being gay is just as easy as being straight and that outing ourselves should be the breeziest thing in this idyllic, free world. They like to cover up or ignore the general hatred that runs amok here in the U.S. and elsewhere, but in so doing, they are over-protecting us from things we really need to know.

I have compiled a list of little things my cynical, embittered mind has collected that every young gay person should know about being gay:

Don't EVER let anyone tell you that being gay is easy or OK. It is OK in the sense that everyone you meet will assume that you are a misguided (possibly psychopathic), AIDS-infected slut. "Augh," you think, "don't tell me that! I prefer my happy, insulated, loving world."

None of this is here to scare you, and it doesn't mean you have to give up that happy, insulated, loving world either. In spite of what it may look like, I am not trying to raise gay youth's suicide rate. But I think that the people we talk to about being gay aren't giving us the whole story. They're trying to preserve our innocence.

Well, the news flash for the day is that we haven't got any innocence left; we're gay. All my naiveté, at least as far as being a lesbian is concerned, collapsed into pent-up, bitter anger when I told my mother and she said, "Well, I just don't remember having so many OPTIONS when I was young." (You'd be surprised how many people I meet who think it's like a fill-in-the-bubble thing: pick one a) straight, b) gay, etc.) Don't get me wrong; I love my mom, but the only person you can count on for support is yourself. I just wish someone had told me that.

"So what do I do?" you ask, "If everyone's against me, why should I not play straight, pretend to be what I am not?" (Now, if you don't like cheesy, gushy stuff, skip this. And I want all my readers to know that I NEVER say things like this; I don't like cheesy, gushy stuff.) The answer is this: if you know who you are and you feel strong, you will be strong. The answer is this: the only person you can count on is yourself, so you better be as real as you can get. The answer is this: being you for you is much more important than being anything for anyone else since you're the only person you have to be around forever. The answer is this: it honestly doesn't matter how many times someone calls you "faggot" and spits in your face, the first time you ever look at someone and feel that first pang of very real, guilt-free passion, that moment makes it all worthwhile. My name is Riki, and I hate being gay, but I love loving girls. 

[About the Author]

©1997 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.