March 1999

Seriously Gay

I am standing in a line with all the other guys in the room. It's "Bring your Straight Friend Night" at Queer and Questioning Students, so all the guys are being lined up according to sexuality. More specifically, the women in the room are placing us on the Kinsey Scale (0 is totally straight, and 6 is completely gay). They don't know us, so they're going by looks. It is with great dismay that I find myself placed at the zero end of the scale. I outdid every straight guy in the room. I knew I wasn't flaming, but I didn't think I was freezing.

When I started coming out, I expected people to be shocked, to be confused, and to misunderstand. I never expected them to think it was hilarious -- they thought I was joking. I guess it's only natural that some people don't take you seriously, but when a lot of them don't, it becomes a cause for concern. I've also begun to discover gay stereotypes that I never knew existed when I came out; everybody had an excuse for being surprised.

"You look like you get dressed in the dark." I often do; it's the result of morning practices and a roommate who doesn't want to be awakened at five in the morning. The results of this combination are some profoundly uncoordinated clothes that bring stares from my gay friends. But all the straight people are oblivious to this. Despite these aspects of my fashion life, I've become a fashion consultant to the guys on my floor -- they want to know what goes with which, and whether or not that lavender jacket is too gay. I tell them I haven't a clue, and suggest they ask the blind student down the hall, since his answer will probably be more reliable than mine will be. But they continue to come in droves, like lemmings to the sea.

"You're an athlete." Yes I am -- so were Greg Louganis and David Kopay. But apparently, upon coming out I'm supposed to give up swimming and take up something queer -- like cooking or needlework. I think that these people could use a dose of Woog's Jocks; gay athletes aren't oxymorons. I could go on and on with these stereotypes that I either fit or don't fit or sort of fit, but I think that the point is obvious: a stereotype, while it does occasionally exist, isn't always true. Now I just need to convince my family that I'm not a stereotype.

When I came out, my parents promptly went into hysterics. I wasn't thrown out of the house, but I was thrown into a mold that wasn't who I was. My parents stopped calling their son, and started calling their gay son. They stopped sending me humorous e-mails, and sent newspaper clippings of Matthew Shepard, of Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche leaving Hollywood; in the margins were notes scrawled in my dad's hen-scratch, asking me if I really want to do this to myself. Since he is also a doctor, he also recommended that I get checked up once a month. When I asked what for, he replied that "gays have very high rates of STD's, and I don't want something to go unchecked." I tried to mention that I'm not going to an orgy every night, am still a virgin, and am not going to have sex until I'm in a relationship, but he doesn't hear me, doesn't listen. I suddenly understand what the parents of toddlers go through -- only these "toddlers" are in their forties.

Nobody is taking me seriously when I talk right now. Well, I'll just have to be a parent for a while -- if they can repeat themselves a million times, so can I.

About the author: Mike is a college student in California. In his almost nonexistent spare time, he attempts to run his college's Gay-Straight Alliance. If you have any suggestions for activities, please e-mail them to him at hubbabubbafly@hotmail.com. In his responses, he promises to drop the third person bit. Thank you for reading his column. He apologizes for missing last month's deadline.

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