What Gay Rights Mean to Me

I haven’t been posting as nearly as much as I would have liked, but since starting Spring term, I’ve had my hands full with things that take precedence over this blog. ┬áTrust me, though, writing a post for y’all has been niggling at the back of my mind for the past two months or so. But here’s something I need to get off my chest.

When you hear the term “equal rights” you probably think “ah, gay marriage, yes, okay, that’s cool.” Because that’s all it consists of, right? Is two dudes being able to marry each other? Maybe adopt someday in the far future? Not much more to state there, and we’ve mostly got equal rights everywhere in the United States! Hell, Ireland has legalized gay marriage as a whole country. Humans are certainly making progress into the future!

Now lemme tell you the story of a person who only gave gay rights a passing thought, and it didn’t bother this person whatsoever, until something happened, that opened their eyes.

Growing up, I can only describe the area I grew up in as out-of-the-way, quiet, and red-neck as heck. I knew one gay person up until I entered high school, and that was my cousin Tom. He’s a cool guy, nice, my mom’s partner-in-crime when they were growing up. For a long time, I didn’t really understand what gay meant, and I didn’t really care – it wasn’t something that affected me.┬áThat’s how I felt when I learned anything to do with sexuality that didn’t pertain to heterosexuality.

At least, that’s what I told myself.

I think the first time I truly had an inkling that I was not straight, was in 7th or 8th grade. I found myself sexually attracted to a female classmate, and I can remember telling myself, “Nah, you just wanna know what another person’s boobs look like, that’s all – you’re not gay, you’re not gay, you are not gay, do you hear me, you cannot be gay.”

And I can remember thinking that every ‘crush’ I had on a guy, felt a little forced, and a little weird. I mean, there were some that I had a crush on, and I knew I liked, but I never really understood the hurt that comes with liking someone you couldn’t have – Mitch got a new girlfriend? Eh, whatever. Brandon didn’t like me? I don’t care.

That’s what it was like through middle and high school; I kept myself in the dark and anytime I felt myself looking a girl as anything more than aesthetically pretty, I’d shut myself down. “No,” I said, “you’re not gay.”

I think it can be chocked up to living in a tiny, redneck town – diversity was not something that happened. We had one kid who was of Indian descent, and a black kid who moved to town in my sophomore year of high school. We were like the San Francisco of diversity in this town. Because, trust me, Mexicans and Orthodox Russians did not count as diverse. And to top it all off? There were like two openly gay kids in the entire school. Both male, so the idea of a gay woman was more like a novelty and only found in pornography.

So I suppressed it. That’s all I could do – I had no one to talk about this to, I had no idea how to deal with my feelings, I didn’t even know if it was normal or not. I’ve realized that this is probably a large part of why I felt like an outcast during high school.

I’ve never understood how people just know they like men or women or two genders or if they don’t like sex at all. Like, how did you figure that shit out? Especially when you were, like, five.

But you know what really takes the cake? What should have sent up red flags to me?

All the goddamn lesbian porn I watched as a teenager. I literally justified this fact as nothing more than simple curiosity – but at some point, it’s no longer just curiosity.

Yet, a year or so out of high school, I finally realized: I am NOT heterosexual. But I’m not homosexual either, I’m something… else. Something more than a mix of the two, and while I know I have a preference for women and feminine non-binaries, I do like the idea of being with a guy. In fact, I realized, I would probably be okay being romantically and sexually involved with someone, as long as I loved them, no matter their genitalia.

This realization, this coming out to myself, it was like an explosion went off, and everything that had been blocking me in that part of my life disappeared. It’s liberating, because no longer do I have to fight myself on how I feel, and that’s so important. Whether I call myself pansexual, polysexual, or demisexual, I don’t care – I’m queer, I’m here, and I’m gonna kick ass.

So what do gay rights mean to me?

They mean being able to be open to your own feelings, and not feeling like you have to shove them down, because you don’t understand them. It means not feeling like you’re gross, because you don’t know what’s wrong with you. It means being able to tell your parents and not feeling like they’re going to disown you – because some will, and some won’t. Gay rights mean so much more than just marriage. It means giving hope to girls and boys and non-binary kids that they aren’t weird, that there’s nothing wrong with them, or that they are sick and twisted.

It means being able to be yourself to yourself.

That’s what gay rights mean to me.