To Young Straight People:

I’m hardly the first queer person to write this, but for whatever reason I’ve had a few personal epiphanies tonight and it came to mind as something I wanted to try to explain in my own words. I’m so fortunate to know so, so many fellow LGBTQIA activists and straight allies and advocates — the outpouring of support I’ve gotten from so many of you, from men and women I’ve known since elementary school to people on Twitter who live in Indonesia who I likely will never meet face-to-face (though I hope to!).

This is directed at people in their teens and early 20s, not with any policy in mind or to give any advice. I’m 27, I’m still figuring shit out. I just hope you’ll read it, consider it and share, if you would be so kind. I didn’t come out until I was 24. Part of that had to do with the fact that I met an amazing woman, a best friend to whom I became engaged and to whom I wish nothing but the best. There are other factors in that particular story (one that I’ll eventually tell), but she’s a straight (to my knowledge) woman and I’m a gay man. It obviously wasn’t going to work out.

I’m from Illinois and graduated from a relatively decent-sized high school — over 2,000 students with a decent-sized LGBTQIA population. …except that not a single one of us was out or open about our sexual orientation. Out of 2,000 people, I did not know a single openly queer classmate, me perhaps least of all. Representing only myself — I felt as if I had no one to talk to, no one with whom I could sit down and say “listen, this guy in my trig class is really cute… should I ask him out?” or even “wow this usher guy’s really hot and he’s performing at the united center next month… maybe wanna go?” Thankfully this has changed and is continuing to change in the decade (yes I’m old) since I graduated from high school, and even in socially conservative areas and with socially conservative politicians on all levels, awareness that sexuality is an orientation and not a “lifestyle choice” is growing.

I knew I was gay when I was 12 or 13, basically as soon as the biology associated with that age kicked in. I focused in on Jennifer Love Hewitt’s outfit more than her body (or any thought of her body) as I was far more focused on the body of the soccer and baseball players’ bodies I was watching with.  Yet, as I’d been told my whole life that homosexuality is both evil and basically a permanent one-way ticket to be set on fire for all eternity, never could say a word. That kind of attitude has an impact. I remember sitting alone in my room with tears running down my cheeks asking whatever god is out there what I did to deserve this. Why I’m a mistake. Why I’m wrong. Why — speaking of Jennifer Love Hewitt — I watched “Can’t Hardly Wait” for Ethan Embry (in the late 90s, he was cute, trust me)? I think back and just remember how absolutely desolate and alone I felt. It’s a powerful feeling to believe that, despite the fact that you at no point chose to be attracted emotionally and physically to an individual of your gender, you’re a lesser person and unworthy because you do. No one chooses this. It is not a choice. And even if it were, it would be a choice in so many places to isolate yourself, loathe yourself, and despair that you’ll ever be able to feel the happiness your straight friends show after receiving a flirty text or a simple gift. Who chooses that?

As there was no GSA or support network at my high school, it was a pain directed entirely inward. In my case, I dealt with it by sublimation, reserving for after college, and directing every ounce of energy toward succeeding academically. Most of that was because I’m a driven individual who’s interested in everything, and the work was gratifying on an intellectual level. But — and what I’ve never shared with anyone — is also that so much was based on the belief that I had no right to the simple pleasure of being me.

What I’m asking of you, young straight women and men, is to support with all your heart and all your voice equality for your peers who are LGBTQIA and advocacy for increased awareness of LGBTQIA issues. It’s the right thing to do, and, while I respect the tenets of various faiths, the only moral thing to do. We’re brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, we queers. We’re your friends, mostly… and so often and in so many places, we’re your friends suffering silently, but suffering not an iota the less. We want and need your help!

~ by Benji on March 12, 2013.

One Response to “To Young Straight People:”

  1. Reblogged this on Fractured Ideals.


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