November 1999

The Closet Shuffle

Most of the time you can tell with one glance what race a particular person belongs to, and although that isn't always the case it holds true in most instances. I'm not saying I'm a racist, I'm just pointing out a fact. With gays however, this isn't always possible...oftentimes members of our group are without a steadfast identifying marker.

Until you bring stereotypes into play, that is.

The "gay culture" has so many different splinter groups that it's almost impossible and even ridiculous to try to find one term or concept to characterize us by, yet some of us seem to do this quite well. The older generation of gays used (and often still use to this day) the pink triangle introduced by Nazi Germany as their "symbol", while the modern gay likes to employ the rainbow and all of it's deviations as theirs. Men who are overweight and are often hirsute use either a bear or a bear's paw print, and so on, I'm sure you get the picture.

Wearing any of these symbols is a way to either show that you are gay or that you are gay friendly, and while there really is nothing wrong with that it does certainly set you apart from others who are not gay. It also makes things harder for those who are still in the closet, either by choice or by their own set of circumstances because it can also create an environment of exclusion.

Let's face it, in our culture if you're openly gay that means that either by how you act or the way you conduct your lifestyle you're letting everyone know clearly that, yes, I am gay! These are the people who are given the most attention in the media...heck, they are what the gay media is mostly about. They are the visible members of our "group", the trendsetters who at least in their world make the rules that the rest of us are supposed to follow.

They are the same people who criticize anyone who stays in the closet yet will gladly turn around and put down those who they feel are "too straight" or "not gay enough" according to their standards.

Or as I see it, be a living stereotype or don't even bother. I'm not putting down anyone who happens to fit this image because I know things aren't always easy for them, I'm just talking about those who make their "gayness" their selling point.

Open up any gay magazine and you'll probably see the same thing: Perfection, or what they would like us to think of as such. What is possibly the most popular gay print magazine with gays of my age group is filled with similar, cookie-cutter images of young gay males in expensive designer threads. After a while I almost feel like you have to dye you hair and at least have one earring in to qualify as being gay.

While I'm sure many of you may think, so what Ty, that's how I am? Do you have a problem with that? Well, I do and I don't. Hey, even I am entitled to be wishy-washy sometimes!

While it's fine and dandy to have this one popular image of how a young gay teen should look on the outside, do we all actually look alike? The popular gay culture seems to like looking the other way when it comes to a large number of us, just like the "popular" cliques in just about every high school (and junior highs and middle schools for that matter) have a superiority complex over anyone who doesn't fit their standards. If your even a bit chubby, don't wear the popular fashions, are a member of certain minority groups...you get the idea...then you're invisible.

A non-person.

But those of you who are put into this group know better, don't you?

One thing that puzzles me to no end is when my reader's write to me and make statements such as these:

"I sure hope your not a straight boy!"

"You like Metallica? Country music? What kind of fag are you anyway? Get with the program and listen to cool music like (their favorite artists)"

Or those aimed at my longtime boyfriend Eric:

"Dump him pronto baby and get a skinny guy!"

"You need a fresh [expletive for a male bodypart] dude! I could never go that long with the same guy! Yuck!"

Sorry, but I love Eric as he is.

The funny thing is, even though I'm only out to a few people, I'm still gay. No matter what I wear, or listen to, what sport I like and sometimes play, none of that has any bearing or changes the fact that I'm still a homosexual. When being gay revolves around what you wear and look like, who you admire or hate, and generally every aspect of your life in between, well then maybe you didn't really come out of the closet at all?

Maybe you just walked into another one and didn't even notice?

The out closet.




Ty is a pseudonym for a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore who lives in the Midwest. In his free time he likes to be with his family, play guitar in a heavy metal band, and ponder what his future will hold for him. He loves hearing from his readers and reads every letter but he doesn't always have time to reply. Be sure to say hello if you see him online!

About the Author
©1998-1999 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.