I recently came out to my friend’s mother on accident. I told her I was gay, but she was very nice about it. She expressed her sympathy about the matter and expressed the requisite amount of pity for my parents. She was also nice enough to pray for me so that this ‘phase’ of mine would pass quickly in order for me to be back to ‘normal’. I can confirm now, that I have indeed successfully passed my ‘gay phase’ although I don’t think I am normal yet, at least not by her standards (and I doubt if I ever will be). The easily offended, please refrain from being offended before you’ve heard the whole story of how I overcame my ‘gay phase’.
Since childhood, I have gone through several phases in which I have assumed numerous labels trying to define my sexuality. The first of these was ‘straight’. Although I have always been attracted to males, being one myself, I, in my youth vehemently tried to feel attraction towards the opposite gender in a vain attempt to fit in. I justified my attraction to men as admiration. As a guy in a BuzzFeed video very eloquently noted “I was looking at guys and I was thinking, I wanna look like that, but then I was like no…I think I just want that”, except that realisation, in my case, came after a very long time.
The second phase was my ‘asexual phase’. When I could no longer make myself believe that I was attracted to girls, I chose to tell myself that I was asexual, conveniently neglecting to take into account my attraction to guys. This phase came to an end when I heard about a new term – ‘graysexual’. Graysexual is the “magical place between asexual and someone who is sexual” said Google. So, essentially, I could now say that I was only attracted to pictures of men but it was women that I desired when it came to relationships and sex (It was no surprise that I had neither, which did make things easier for my denial).
The next phase was my ‘bisexual phase’. In this phase, I finally came to terms with my attraction to guys but I told myself that I could keep it a secret and tell people that I was straight. I thought that I would just not tell people about my attraction to guys and continue to live the straight life since I was also attracted to girls. This delusion was finally broken when I left school and went to college, to a more liberal and accepting environment where I finally came to terms with my sexuality and adopted the label ‘gay’.
After numerous YouTube coming out videos, I realised that I was not alone in this phasic process of coming out. Tom Daley (part-time Olympic diver and full-time Gay Icon) too came out as bisexual first and then later came out as gay. He says in his coming out video, “Of course I still fancy girls… but right now I’m dating a guy” as a consolation. This was probably because consciously or unconsciously he thought that being bisexual was better and more acceptable than being gay. This misconception is common among many homosexual people who even come out to friends and family as bisexual because they think that bisexual people are more readily accepted in the straight world. Therefore, all the phases I went through, identifying with several labels, were a vain attempt on my part to be as close to ‘normal’ as possible.
Kate Bornstein, a trans theorist, and activist speaks about the difference between ‘straight’ and ‘queer’. She says that ‘straight’ stood for everything conservative. ‘Straight’, according to her, represents all the values associated with the patriarchy: heterosexual, gender role conforming, monogamy etc. ‘Queer’ on the other hand stands for the exact opposite of straight. Thus if you’re not a cis-het gender role conforming male or female, then you automatically cease to be ‘straight’. Therefore it does not matter if a person is homosexual or bisexual or pansexual, they can never fit into the ‘straight world’.
Bornstein also said something else in reference to this which stuck with me. She said, “you can never know what you are for sure because you are constantly changing, but you do know what you’re not”. What she meant by this was that a gay man may suddenly one day fall in love with a woman because you can’t control who you fall in love with. So that person isn’t ‘gay’ in the strict sense of the word anymore. However, that man can never be ‘straight’.