29 September 2014

Why conceptual gayness is different from practical gayness

When I came out to people, they were largely supportive. In fact, people I thought might disown me or turn their backs on me didn't. Some people were confused and sad and angry, but they seemed to accept it.

And then I started dating, and things shifted.

What was once a non-issue became an issue. People who had once been comfortable discussion marriage equality and LGBTQ rights with me were suddenly nervous about the topics, or were much harder to get in touch with.

A couple of friends seemed to drift away entirely, and this has prompted me to think about conceptual gayness and practical gayness.

For the purposes of this post, "conceptual gayness" refers to someone being gay but not in a relationship. For the purposes of this post, "practical gayness" refers to someone who is gay and in a relationship.

There can be a bit of a shock when someone comes out as gay, even if they are not already in a relationship. Saying you're gay is a shift in thinking for family and friends, but it's manageable. It's just something you are.

But when you make that shift to practical gayness, and show that not only are you gay, but you have every intention of living a "gay lifestyle," people can no longer ignore the fact that you're gay or pretend you're still straight and single. You are really gay.

It's a strange shift because, to me, there was no shift. I was the same person I always was. The only difference was that I was in a happy, healthy relationship. When I said I was gay the first time, I meant it, after all.

And still, conceptual gayness and practical gayness makes things different, I guess.

Is this what people mean when they say they're not opposed to gays as long as they don't "flaunt it"? I have heard people (I know) say, "What you do in the privacy of your home is your business, but don't throw it in my face." Does the public declaration of my relationship constitute flaunting my sexuality?*

Here's the thing: I'm not in the closet anymore. And it irritates me that those in my life who claimed to be supportive of that are now balking at the fact that I closed the closet door behind me.

I haven't changed. I'm still Puck and Tink's mom. I'm still a writer. I'm still mildly addicted to coffee.

I'm just me in a relationship with an amazing, beautiful, wonderful woman whom I love very much. I am gay in the conceptual and practical sense.

And it shouldn't be any different.

*Let's pretend we don't see teenage (straight) couples climbing all over each other and making out in public, oblivious to the world around them. Because that's different from me holding my girlfriend's hand in public.

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