My mom is gay, many of my friends are gay. I support gay marriage, gay rights, gay adoption. I'm pretty open about my feelings, and I splash my Facebook wall with pictures and slogans and blog posts about how I feel it is OK to be gay. I am not shy about it.
But I won't wear the t-shirt to the mall, or the park, or anywhere in the straight world. I might wear it to a gay bar, a pride parade, or around the house. But I don't want to mark myself in the greater world as being gay. I don't want anyone to mistake me for being gay. It's not that I think being gay is shameful. I am even happy to identify as bisexual or heteroflexible. But I don't want to be a target.
I can still close my eyes and hear the taunts of my grade school classmates.
L--- the Lezzie!
Look, it's the Lezzie!
I even have a yearbook entry from a friendly acquaintance addressed to Lez. It wasn't my sexuality. It wasn't my label, it was my mother's, but it was applied to me just the same. It was convenient that my name started with L, it gave rhythm to their chanting. They yelled it in the halls, they used it in the classrooms. Not one teacher stopped them.
I used to hope and pray that I would get hit by a car on the way to school. I used to yearn to have a steady boyfriend to prove I was straight. I knew who had outed me. It was a girl whose mother was also gay or at least bisexual and knew my mother socially. My classmate had deflected questions about her own household onto mine. It was easy; she was popular, I was not. I understood, and I never hated her for it. She had to save herself.
I like to think I have grown up. I like to think that in the 17 years since junior high I have moved on. But I won't wear the t-shirt. I won't take that risk. I don't know how to be that brave.
Some People Are Gay…Get Over It. It sounds so simple.
Gay people are still harassed. Gay people are still beat up and left for dead. It's still not safe to be gay. I know that I have so much less to fear, because I am not gay. I can take off the t-shirt in the way a masculine looking lesbian girl or a gay male twink can not. I have the ability to leave the shirt in the closet. And I know I am not brave.
previously published on BlogHer