My struggle in penning this essay is rooted in me trying to write it from the perspective of a man who resides in a place too many outside factors won’t let me rest in contently.
Initially, I wanted to kick things off with recalling how I was once told by a dear friend and lesbian friend of mine, “You dance like a f*ggot.” It was said as a compliment, but it struck a nerve because it was a realization I long held myself, which is why I used to not dance publicly. I didn’t want to be pegged so easily, you know? These days, as noted by other friends, you can find me twerkin’ with no shame at a tourist attraction or sidewalk near you.
I wanted to use that transition as some larger metaphor to explain how I’ve become at peace with some of the feminine traits attributed to gay men that apply to me in the midst of all the ones that don’t, and as a result, get me called things like “fauxmo,” “non gay-gay,” and the like (which make me laugh). The goal was to show I’ve meshed aspects of myself that are considered “manly” and “womanly” and became a better person overall – regardless of what anyone thinks.
It sounded so nice when I envisioned this piece and that sense of relief I wanted to convey. But I just couldn’t and finally it hit me: my anger lingers. Hauntingly so.
There were a few reminders already floating around me, but my feelings were magnified following Frank Ocean’s revelation about his first true love.
I was already irritated by Ocean’s words being twisted to fit everyone else’s agenda, though what truly pissed me off was how quickly Frank was feminized. Not just by straight people either. Many gay men are just as guilty for taking such a beautiful and courageous act and trivializing it by referring to that man as “sis,” “butch queen,” musings about his butt and other stupid little quips that should’ve been kept in whatever cellar they choose to keep things best left unsaid.
Nothing Frank wrote warranted those juvenile responses.
Don't other gay folks see what is happening? Does it not dawn on any of you that you’re succumbing to stereotypes invented by people who, no matter how much they may humor you at times, continue to look at you as secondary? How can you miss that these sorts of sentiments created the very kind of environment that left whoever Frank was in love with unable to admit his feelings?
I know how Frank felt when he wrote: "I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn't imagine keeping up my life without him."
I’ve been there.
I’m still there.
These men don’t want those stigmas attached to them, and no matter how hurtful it has been, I understand. Sometimes a bit more than my self-righteousness on the matter usually calls for.
Frustrations notwithstanding, I’ve come to see the beauty in gay men who can be as genderless as they choose to. There is bravery in that, and I’m grateful to call many of these men my friends now. However, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that for others, such behavior isn’t who they are but who they feel they have to be in order to belong.
I know the personalities that make up the gay community are varied, but so many still don’t and refuse to challenge those arbitrary depictions — gays included.
Such is the reason why when my homegirl’s girlfriend asks me if I’m one of those “messy gays” or readers of my site assert “I just know you love RuPaul’s Drag Race,” I can’t help but feel a certain type of way.
That’s not me, aren’t you paying attention?
I try hard to live by this Muhammad Ali quote: "I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."
Thing is, you can choose to see yourself however you want, but you still have to contend with everyone else around you. Those outside forces can wear thin after a while no matter how strong a person you are.
There is this mantra touted among us that dictates if you allow those outside factors to wear you down, you’re weak. It is a gross oversimplification of much more complex issue of identity.
I almost made the error of perpetuating that in this piece.
Maybe I will eventually be the man I wanted to originally portray myself as. That isn’t who I am today, though. I am a gay man who knows who he is, but remains occasionally hurt over the fact that living life on my own terms doesn’t preclude me from certain harsh realities. It’s whimsical to think otherwise.
It remains to be seen if I do ever end up the kind of guy who can find complete peace in spite of that. Until such revelation presents itself, in the meantime I have no choice but to take comfort in at least being a man of honesty.