This opinion was written in response to a collaboration question of how I self identify? Am I gay? Bi? Straight? Well, the answer is gay, but I'm so much more. We are so much more than the terms by which we identify ourselves.
A Gay Opinion 6/19/00
by R.A. Melos
We all identify ourselves differently; some by jobs, some by looks, some by relationship status, and some by number. When we look in the mirror what do we all see? Are we looking at our reflection just to check our hair, or make-up, or the way our clothes look? Are we looking for perfection, or flaws?
When I look in the mirror I see different people at different times. A long time ago, I would wake each day and when I looked at my reflection I saw a liar, someone who couldn't even face his own reflection for very long because the reflection told the truth, and I didn't want to see the truth.
No, from an outward appearance, if you were to look at me I might not appear to be gay. It wasn't the outward reflection that was bothering me, it was the reflection of my soul, something only I could see, staring back at me, mocking me, calling me a liar because I was trying to pass for something I'm not; straight.
What was worse was the self loathing I was creating within myself. I knew, for a very long time, I was gay, but I didn't want to admit that dark secret to myself, so I would fight the desires, and cause myself more damage on the emotional level. I wanted something which I was raised to believe was wrong, so I was denying myself the right to live my life as I pleased.
This denial ended up costing me more than I can sometimes bear. To think I could've been out as a teenager, to look in the mirror and see a happy young man, adjusted to his sexuality, and accepting of himself, instead of the man who was self-loathing because of brainwashing by an uncaring society, still hurts. These are emotional scars, caused by that very same society I was trying to fit into, and these scars will never fully heal.
No matter what I've become, as far as looking in the mirror and seeing a gay man who is adjusting to the shift in his own perception of himself, and the shift in societies attitudes toward homosexuality, those deeply embedded scars are there for life.
Now the identity, the name I choose for myself is G-A-Y. I've come to accept this term more than queer, which for me has its own deeply scared memory, or homosexual which I find too clinical. I'm a gay man. Gay has happy overtones, derived from the original meaning of the word before it was adopted by a community of people looking for a term which would describe them more fully, yet not carry the disparaging connotations placed on other terms by the medical community.
Possibly I identify with gay because it's a simple straightforward term, without need of more explanation. If you tell someone you're gay, they no longer assume you are happy, they usually don't bother to ask if you're sure, and they either accept it as fact or leave you alone.
Am I happy with the person I see in the mirror?
Am I content with that person, as I am, or is there room for improvement?
There's room for improvement.
How might I improve on that reflection which stares back at me from time to time when I glance in the mirror? I'm already working on that by writing this article. By opening my life up on the Internet and allowing people to read my deepest feelings, opinions, emotions, I am making homosexuality more accessibly to the general public who may not have access to homosexuals.
What do I mean by that? Aren't there homosexuals everywhere?
Yes, homosexuals are everywhere. One may be living right under your own roof, and one might even be you. By my opening myself up, as often as possible, I'm hopefully helping some gay person who, for whatever reason, is still in denial or closeted, to know they are not alone and maybe someday that man or woman will have the real courage to face their own reflection and step outside of themselves to face their own homosexuality in a productive way.
With all the talk of same-sex relationships and marriage filling the airways, you would think all homosexuals are accepting of themselves and out and proud, but this is not the case. My own history shows not everyone is ready to come out.
There are those who will probably be in denial for the rest of their lives, fearful of a society which really doesn't care about them, but they feel they must assimilate into. These people are the ones I'm trying to reach, the ones who might read this late at night, in the dark of their home offices, allowing themselves the brief pleasure of being themselves for a few minutes before returning to that bed they share with someone they may or may not love (I truly challenge any one living with a member of the opposite sex as your life partner, who is harboring doubts of your own sexuality, to honesty examine your feelings for that other person and think about how you are hurting that person with your lies) to dream of a world where they might be free.
Alas, many of these people don't dream, they simply live to exist until they die, never really knowing the pleasure and freedom of being what they know in their hearts they are, and this saddens me to know there are homosexuals living this kind of existence because they feel they must deny themselves in order to fit into society.
I'm not only referring to my ex-lover (see the relationships section), but the many people I've begun to meet from having become more outspoken on the subject of my sexuality.
Yes, I identify myself as gay, and I am happy with that designation, but it is not my only designation. I am also a freedom fighter. I fight for all people to have the security to face themselves, in a safe environment, and to allow themselves to grow and flourish. By this, I mean I want people to have the freedom to stop lying to themselves and to the rest of the world.
I'm afraid my dream is just that, a dream. The human race will never allow itself the freedom to openly accept all its diversities. The closeted people I'm referring to are the very ones who will fight against the very things which will set them free to truly explore their greater potentials. Every closeted person, passing for straight, living what I call a straight lie, is taking something away from those of us who know who and what we are and desire the freedom to be ourselves.
They are taking away from us the full enjoyment of our own freedom when we must see those like us who feel they must hide themselves metaphorically speaking with rules like "don't ask, don't tell," or by simply lying about themselves out of fear of repercussions from society. If these people would have the nerve to stand up for themselves, instead of trying to keep the peace and quite of society as it is, claiming they aren't the ones who will change history so why not let someone else do it for them, we would be centuries ahead of where we are today.
As for these closeted people waiting, probably through another lifetime, for someone else to change the world so they can then reap the benefits of other's actions, I am disgusted.
Yes, I might still be one of these people if it hadn't been for one of these spineless people who thought by outing me he would destroy me, and thus any determination I had which might help the GLBT community have equal rights to the straight society, but I'm out now, and I'm not quiet about it, nor will I be until the day I die.
So my self identity is not only one of being gay, but also one of a voice for those who won't speak for themselves. Our world is so complicated, when we look in the mirror we don't have to see just one image, or one label, but many labels and many faces.
I'm still evolving into whatever and whoever I'm going to be in this world, and I'm not going to do it silently. It's time for all same-sex oriented persons to face themselves, and look at their reflections with a personal pride at their ability to stand up for themselves and be able to say with pride, I'm gay.
Now, each morning, or afternoon, when I get up, I look in the mirror and say to myself, sometimes aloud, I'm gay and I'm proud of who I am.
Now people might argue they don't want to know I'm gay, nor do they see a reason to proclaim it themselves. They might argue that their sexuality is a personal thing, but it isn't. No one's sexuality is only for themselves to see. The simply fact we can identify men from women with a look (usually) makes sexuality something which effects everyone, so by being open about my own sexuality I'm effecting society in my own positive way.
Hiding effects society in a negative way, and I don't hide, and neither should you. Go to your mirrors, look at your reflections, and think about what you see.