You Don’t Look Gay

The Hamilton Spectator - - OUR PULSE - NAME WITH­HELD

“Are you sure?” “You don’t look gay.” Man, if I had a dol­lar for ev­ery time I have heard some­thing like this, I’d be liv­ing in L.A., best friends with Kim Kar­dashian. Now, I know I’m not the poster child for all things girly, but ap­par­ently, I’m not “butch-look­ing” enough to be seen as gay. I was sur­prised con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of flan­nels and jean jack­ets I own!

Now? I am proud of who I am, but when you are 13, you just want to be “nor­mal.” So, I de­cided I wasn’t gay; I liked boys and I had boyfriends. When this didn’t work, I told ev­ery­one I was bi­sex­ual —still “some­what nor­mal” in other peo­ple’s eyes — a good com­pro­mise. Sadly, I knew I was hid­ing my true self, try­ing to shove the gay 13-year-old me into the closet where I thought she be­longed. When I had fi­nally hated my­self long enough, I de­cided I would not care what any­one else thought and I dropped the straight act. I told my mom, who may still think I’m kid­ding, and hon­oured my com­ing out by get­ting the req­ui­site shaved hair­cut and dat­ing al­most ev­ery other les­bian I could find.

Yet here I am, not gay enough! When some­one first sug­gested that I just didn’t “seem” or look gay, I was frus­trated! Did I shave my head for noth­ing? I come out to ev­ery­one in my life, and still don’t get the stamp of ap­proval?! I was shocked to dis­cover that even other les­bians used stereo­types, cre­ated by straight peo­ple in the me­dia against other les­bians.

I was forced into a box of un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions, plans for the fu­ture, and gen­der norms on the day I was born. When I “came out” I thought I was break­ing out of that box; turns out I was just placed into an­other one filled with ideas on how I should look to be ac­cepted.

When you hear the word “les­bian” you prob­a­bly pic­ture the stereo­type cre­ated by the me­dia, and we all know how per­va­sive me­dia stereo­types can be. Even I have fallen into the trap. When a beauty and life­style blog­ger I re­ally liked, In­grid Nilsen, up­loaded a video com­ing out as a les­bian, I was shocked! Far too pretty and girly to be a les­bian, I thought! I as­sumed she was straight.

Surprise! Les­bians come in all shapes and colours, just like all other hu­man be­ings. Nilsen talks about how hard it was to hide her true self, and I un­der­stand that. There is free­dom in be­ing who you truly are and show­ing that face to the world, no mat­ter what it looks like!

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