So today, in the weekly The AfterEllen Huddle, we were posed the question, “Why are you glad to be gay (or however you identify)?” I hope you get a chance to read all of the writers’ responses, because they are interesting and telling and at times quite moving. I wanted to share mine here as well. Because it was a question I never knew that I wanted to answer until it was finally asked. Happy weekend, all.
When I was in grade school, the coolest thing was to sit on the back of the bus on the ride home and make fun of the other kids. I wasn’t cool, but I wanted to be. One week, everyone in the back of the bus decided it was cool to call this one girl – who was awkward and scruffy and different in ways grade schoolers despise – names. The only one that stands out to me all these years later is “witch.” Don’t ask me why, I really can’t recall. But, remember, I wasn’t cool – I just wanted to be. So I called her witch with them one bus ride home. It was a mean and terrible thing to do. And I regret it to this day. But I wanted to be cool, and cruelty seemed the fastest way there.
Years later, when I began to realize my own difference, the urge to hide the “not one of us”-ness of my very existence grew to an unmanageable din. I won’t be cool, I won’t be liked. I’ll be the witch at the back of the bus.
But learning to accept and own and honor that very differentness that is inherent in every single gay person is the reason I am most glad to be gay. For those who fit effortlessly into the back-of-the-bus crowd, coming to the realization that coolness or sameness or whatever-ness you hold dear doesn’t really matter often comes more slowly – if at all.
Being gay has afforded me a front-row seat to what otherness means in America. (So has being a minority, being a woman, et al – as it does for anyone outside the descriptors of the pre-prescribed societal norms.) But what it really has done is make me a kinder, more open person. It has made me realize for all of our so-called differences we are actually all terribly the same. We are just tiny humans spinning around the sun on this crazy blue marble for a ridiculously short period of time. So, really, what’s the use of being cruel?
Being gay also means I get to kiss girls. Which is awesome. So there’s that, too.