I know what you're thinking..."GAP?" Great Art Professor? Good Amish Prostitute? Gay Asian Professional? No. It means Gay American Prince (or for some, Princess.) You know, kind of like JAP (Jewish) or BAP (Black) or, well I don't know if there are any others. But I digress.
What does it mean to be a GAP? It's a combination of different things. First off, you have to be gay (duh) and since this isn't a "mainstream" publication yet you're still reading this, well, one point in your favor. It also helps if you're American though this club doesn't discriminate so we can have room for a couple of Gay Russian Princes, Gay Nigerian Princesses-whatever. However, the most important part is that one must believe that he or she is truly a prince.
I know. It sounds egotistical, vain, even self important. Though you do want to know how to do this. How to see yourself as royalty. Well, I did it and I have friends who've done it too. It's a little tricky but maybe I can explain it so you can join in.
See, I used to be the class fag in high school. You know who I'm taking about. The quiet, usually chubby, always effeminate boy in every graduating class since the beginning of the modern education system. The one who likes Shakespeare and art club and sings in chorus but doesn't like sports and is always the last picked in gym. The one that everyone calls "faggot", "pussy" and/or "wuss". The lonely one.
Now this class fag is actually gay and in a terrible place. Repressed from expressing any form of longing for fear of further isolation, this person usually continues to believe that they are alone and wrong. That their ideal love, their heart's desire cannot and should not be expressed. They continue to sink deeper into a hole of depression and begin to find themselves closing off. Understandable, right?
It doesn't have to be like this. Now, I'm not advocating some crazy coming out scenario; it's usually not the best thing to do on some whim after reading some half assed columnist rant about the lameness of high school and the freedom of screaming your sexuality from the nearest roof top. Instead, I'm going to tell you what I did to get through four very tough years of my life. Here goes...
One night, after a long day of verbal harassment at school, I was sprawled out on my bed, crying my eyes out. Just sobbing, cursing God, my parents, myself. Why did I have to be gay, why did I not fit in, why did I have to wear that "Backstreet Boys" T-shirt to gym class? (Sorry. I had to have a moment of levity.) Basically I was just ripping myself apart for every reason in the book.
Then suddenly the tears stopped. I don't know why but I couldn't push another one out. I remember sitting up and catching my reflection in the bedroom mirror. Staring at the red face, the messy hair, the chubby boy in the glass. I couldn't look away. For some reason I just knew that something was about to happen to him. And it does.
Acceptance. The pansy, candy assed, queer of the class realizes that he is totally gay and that nothing was ever going to change that fact. God, his parents, his classmates, none of them were going to be able to make him straight; no matter how he, or they, wanted it to happen. And he sure as hell didn't understand why all the magazines and TV shows called it a choice-it definitely wasn't like the first twelve CDs you got from Columbia House or a free parting gift.
This is rather messed up, huh? Now the class fag realizes he is a homosexual and isn't exactly happy with that revelation. He would pretty much give anything to be normal. So what does he do? The newly aware gay boy tries to ignore the feelings. He secretly watches every "gay" episode of Jerry Springer and reads every copy of "Kinsey Report on Male Sexuality" and looks up every web page with the word gay on it.
He doesn't find anything he understands. This now self-identifying gay boy has never stolen someone else's man or had that creepy bunkmate at summer camp or even knows what Chi-Chi LaRue is. So now he's stuck with different images of what it means to be gay, none of which seems to help him at all. His classmates tell him it wrong, the TV shows seem filled with either sexual deviants or sexless wonders and the serious sexual and psychological books just talk about sexual predators. So he keeps looking for something else that might explain how he is supposed to be gay.
Maybe he stumbles across a dog eared copy of "Tales of the City" or catches a late night showing of Beautiful Thing or reads a review of that "gay" singer Rufus Wainwright or something. The important thing is that he now begins to suspect that maybe there is more to being gay then what society tells him. Perhaps he can start to see all the positive and brave things that are out there; the Stonewall Riots, James Baldwin's novels, the legacy of people like Harvey Milk and Matthew Shephard.
He begins to notice that not every gay person ends up alone and maybe they can be smart, funny, even respected. Not much later the same boy starts to speak back when people call him a fag or a queer because he thinks it's wrong to use that slur against someone. He's not ready to come out yet but he is ready to speak up for what he understands to be a misunderstood and misrepresented people. His people.
That's how I became a prince. The formerly ashamed class fag now saw, understood and, even more important, demanded respect for his community. This doesn't mean that I defended everything that went on at say, Gay Pride or "Will and Grace" or that I even had to. For every good person in the "gay" history there is a comparatively bad one; we have Andrew Cunanan and Roy Cohn to name a few. Now I began to respect my people and myself.
This acceptance and pride is the most important thing. That we all learn and understand where we come from and where we are going. No one else is going to go out of their way to tell us how noble and worth while the gay community is. Yet it's all true. Don't just believe this column, find out yourself. Discover all you can about our community and take in and spread it on. And since the easiest and most fun way to empower ourselves is to give it a title then why not royalty? Use your new knowledge to create a legacy for yourself. Why not be a prince or an empress or duke or baroness? Just pick something that makes you feel like the interesting, important and valuable person you are. No one else is going to do it for you. Really.
So join in and be a GAP in all your glory. Realize that you are everything that the outside world assumes you are not. Share that power with others. I want to hear about it, okay? And maybe next time we can talk about how cool we all are. And I'll have a picture. Promise.