14 May 2013

Closets Are For Clothes, Not People

Pride: a satisfied sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people. A product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging.

This is gay pride, or rather, a gay pride.

I publicly declared on FB today that I am a proud Midwesterner, what with the state of Minnesota legalizing gay marriage. It is a huge step for the Midwest, considering the only other state to legalize it in that area is Iowa, who is best known for...um, well, I'm not sure. Corn fields, perhaps? Regardless, it makes me proud to see my Midwest area on the right side of history.

But it also reminds me that I'm proud to be a woman, and more, a proud gay woman. I guess you could say I have gay pride. The gay community is open, understanding, and compassionate. It’s a place where you are always welcome, no questions asked because the person next to you has been where you have been. The people in our community have all worn the same shoes (most likely Birkenstocks for women and pumped up kicks for the boys) and can relate our experiences on many complex levels. Our stories may be different, but we all have a collective understanding of the gay experience, both good and bad.

Everyone has a reason to be proud, whether it’s because you are an accomplished athlete, successful in your career, or are just proud of who you are as a person.  For me, I’m just proud to be different, proud of being strong enough to admit who I really am, and who I want to spend my life with.

Gay pride month is upon us in just a few short weeks which begs the question: Why are we as gays so proud? What sets us apart from say, heterosexual pride? Because being gay is different and it takes incredible strength to be different.

There are many reasons I love being gay. Probably too many to count; but for your entertainment, I am going to try and list a few, put this gay pride into perspective. Let me preface this by saying I am not a man hater by any means, but in order to drive home my points, I gotta compare the two sexes.

Men are disgusting and women are beautiful. You all know this is true. Women don’t have that inherent “man reek”. Well, with the exception of my best friend Jes. Girl is naaaasty, but I digress. You know the stench when you walk into a guy’s bedroom? Or a frat house? Or even a man cave? That stale odor of wet socks, ball sweat, and morning breath? G to the ROSS. Thankfully, women like to smell good and use things like candles, exotic body sprays, and often baking to induce pleasant smells. Guys like their natural musk and are often quite proud of it. Women can be disgusting, but at least we try to hide it.

Men are hairy and again, women are beautiful. Yes, women have body hair (in areas some are ashamed of, but that’s what laser hair removal is for) but we don’t have chest, back, or armpit hair. Not typically anyway.

Men do not menstruate; women do; therefore, they understand the pain and suffering on a monthly basis. My wife Emily doesn’t get upset with me if I am not feeling well due to my angry uterus like a man would. She doesn’t blame my crankiness on PMS immediately. Periods are not a mysterious puzzle to be solved, a code to be cracked. It’s just menses guys, learn about it. 

Women are beautiful, or have I mentioned that before? Have you ever looked closely at a man’s genitalia versus a woman’s? I mean, it’s like comparing beautiful golden apples and a papaya to an ugly purple sausage and dried up prunes. The two are simply not comparable. And who doesn’t love boobs? Straight men, straight women, and even gay men love boobs. 

Women know what women want. That can be helpful in almost every single scenario in a relationship. Sex, sharing clothing, food choices, activities, communication, and the list goes on. I don’t wonder what my wife means when she says something. I don’t wonder if I have to read between the lines or make assumptions. She says what she means, and means what she says. Simple as that. 

Being a lesbian comes in handy when in public, particularly bar scenes. Not only do we have the best reason to deny a creeper, it is also a great way to score free drinks. It seems when you deny a creeper’s advances, the cute(ish) guy who hears that you’re a lesbian wants to know more and buys you drinks. Of course secretly, he thinks he’s just scored a night with two chicks, but he really knows he’s going home alone, but he can’t stop his curiosity. Downside, sometimes you have to explain intimate details, but hey, a free drink is a free drink. Ladies, am I right?

We have the option to shop in the ladies and men’s sections of clothing stores. We can mix and match clothing if we choose. This idea extends outside the stores; many gay women also shop in the ladies and men’s department. It’s called being bisexual, and I have done it.

Being a woman in a same sex relationship offers me everything I want. The wife and I have a best friend relationship. She understands everything about me. She knows what it’s like to be female, so she understands why I ask her to help me with a self breast exam, and she knows what to look for. Being of the same gender, we have common interests and we do more things as a couple than some of our straight friends. And women are naturally sweet creatures, full of love, piss, and vinegar. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

We gays have the best gay jokes. Seriously, we do. (See: Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, Neil Patrick Harris, Mario Cantone, et al.)

Joking aside, the best thing for me about being gay is the sense of pride I get when I say it out loud. The sense of pride I get when someone I love and care about introduces me or my wife to someone new and is not uncomfortable doing so. Admitting you’re gay forces you to realize things about yourself you were too afraid to see before. It forces you to be strong willed, caring, and understanding of people who have difficulties. 

I acknowledge everyone has a story, everyone has hardships. But for the sake of argument and to further my explanation about why I'm proud to be gay, I say this: everyone has hardships, sure, but not everyone has had to face adversity, public judgment and humiliation, or estrangement from friends and family simply by declaring their sexual preference, who they like to have sex with, or who they want to spend the rest of their life with. Can you imagine if straight people were forced to come out and admit their sexual preferences? Oh, the guy sitting behind you on the bus likes to wear a strap on and give it to his wife in the butt. Or, the waitress at the restaurant where you’re enjoying lunch likes to blow her husband while he takes a shit. Or how about your college professor who likes to hire prostitutes to beat him with a whip and then pee on him? Yes, these are extreme and unpleasant examples, but sometimes this is what “coming out” feels like to us. It feels like we have to put our sexuality on display to set the record straight. I mean, isn't your sex life EVERYONE else's business like ours is?
Everyone in the gay community has a “coming out” story; some are great, some are not so great, and some are just horrifying. Although coming out is a process to admit your sexuality, a process no one should have to go through, gay or straight, it’s just the way our society is. If you’re different, you have to declare it out in the open for the world to hear and when you do, you have to stand by it and defend it. Coming out is also a way to expose yourself and see your own strengths and weaknesses in the open, raw and vulnerable. For me, it has made me become a better person. I may be proud, but I’m not too proud to admit my faults, work on the way I react to things out of my control, and I attribute my inner growth successes to the fact that I am gay and therefore, proud. Having a great support system also helps that feeling of pride, no doubt. 

I have changed a lot since “coming out” years ago. I still have a temper, but on a scale of 1 to blind rage, I’d say my temper generally falls between 1 and seeing red. Like an alcoholic, I have chosen to accept the things I cannot change; I can only change my reaction and give things meaning if I choose to. I am more selfless than selfish, because I am in love with a girl for whom I would lay down my life. But let’s be real; even with all those positive changes, I’m still an asshole, but at least I’m a cool gay asshole. Settle down gay boys, not that kind of gay asshole. You know where to go to find that.

With that said, being who you are is something to be proud of, regardless of the reason. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Life is too short, tomorrow is never promised, and the best people in life will love you because you’re you.


Kathleen Kelly said...

I love you for you!!

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