I Seem Like an Average Straight Guy
Should I Out Myself to Everyone I Meet?
I came out just a few weeks before coming to Montreal.
First I told some friends. They were surprised. Some of them thought I was joking, but when they realized that I wasn’t kidding they took me seriously, listened to what I had to say and ultimately were very supportive.
Then I told my family. My parents were cool with it, but also pretty surprised. My sisters, although supportive, were a bit taken aback and not sure how to react. Even though I was given love and support, it still wasn’t that easy.
I think it’s because of society’s stereotypes and the notions we’ve internalized about how a gay man is supposed to act, dress and sound. With many gay people, it’s not hard to tell. But for me, since I’m still greeted with surprise, coming out hasn’t gotten easier.
I realize that part of it is my fault. I haven’t put myself out there that much. I haven’t integrated myself into the gay community. I’ve only been to Montreal’s Gay Village a few times. I have a few gay friends, but most of the people I hang out with are straight.
Since coming to Montreal, I’ve been in something of an open relationship with a guy who used to think he was straight. He now identifies as bisexual.
Last year, we lived in residence together and no one knew we were more than friends. I think most people knew I was gay. I told a few people in the first few days and that’s all I had to do. After that, I think people pretty much just asked around and found out, or didn’t care.
But I still didn’t talk to anyone about the fact that my friendship was actually more than that. And even though he’s now “out” (as bi) to most of our friends and to his family, I still sometimes find it difficult to talk to friends and family about my sexual orientation.
In this age where being gay is way more accepted and seems to continue to become more so, as a gay man who on the outside seems straight, I feel like I’m in a weird place.
When I meet someone new, I still don’t know when the time is right to out myself. Unless I can rely on someone else to break the news, I feel like it hangs like a cloud over our conversations and interactions. It seems like unless I get drunk, we get close enough or they find out from someone else, I’ll continue to feel just a bit awkward.
I’m not sure what the solution is. I know a lot of it’s on me—to be more comfortable with myself, proud of myself, and maybe to claim my identity a bit more. I’m not sure how to make it easier for other people unless I change the way I speak, act, or dress to conform closer to society’s expectation of a gay man. It feels like I will always surprise people when I tell them.
Most of the time, it’s not that big a deal. But then there are those awkward situations. When I was at my sister’s birthday party, my sister’s friend and her fiancé, both native Montrealers, asked me how I liked the French-Canadian girls.
My straight friend and I exchanged awkward glances and I wasn’t sure what to say. I tried to brush the question off. Are there language barriers, she asked? Yeah. Language barriers.
I talked to my friend about it later. He told me how at his college, they have a saying. “Sexuality is a spectrum, not a binary.” Given my own experiences with other people, I completely agree.
Although I think our society is still far from it, maybe we will eventually be able to accept that sexuality is in fact, a spectrum.
And in an age where our generation is constantly criticized for our political apathy, poor communication skills, and self-centredness, I think something beautiful is surfacing: People are beginning to no longer give a fuck. Sexuality is becoming more fluid.
I feel like I’m always hearing about “straight” people being in same-sex relationships, or considering themselves bi, or not putting labels on their sexuality. One of my sisters, after I came out to her, told me how she has experimented with her sexuality and considers herself bi.
I recognize that decades ago, considering my appearance, behaviour and the potential repercussions, it’s possible I wouldn’t have come out. For people like my “friend” and I, it might have tortured us. We might not have been able to tell our friends or families about our reality.
Even though we still have a long way to go to fight for equality, as LGBTQ people are still being discriminated against in many areas of society, I think we’re on the right track.
And while I’m not holding my breath, maybe in the future people will stop making assumptions about people’s sexuality. Maybe then I’ll no longer feel like I’m in limbo.