By Andy J. Salgado
here is a belief or, better said, a concept that within society if you are gay it is something that needs to be announced. Now, I am not negating the idea of being proud of yourself, comfortable in your skin, or self-assured. In fact, I am referencing the idea that the coming out process is something that does not need to be viewed with fireworks and a block party. The moment that you confidently decide to label yourself is the moment you begin to distinguish yourself as a member of a certain community. You then begin to identify with that community for their actions and beliefs. By default, through doing so, you are perceived into a group of people that act a certain away, even if you do not.
A Swap of Perspectives
As a whole, we need to shift our perspective, gay or straight, from a space of tolerance and separating each other into certain categories to acceptance, love, and understanding that, at the core, we are all more alike than separate. The separation between “I, gay” and “You, straight” is what is causing a border and separation between us. This border masks itself with the idea that we are all defining ourselves and our individual voices. The more we define our individuality, the more reasons we create to keep ourselves separate from the rest of the world. You can be an individual, have a goal, a life-purpose, and, in turn, still not fall into the confinement or prison of being a certain label and then ONLY being seen as that label. A swap of perspectives is essential and a two-way road. Not only must society and humanity begin to transform but so must you.
From Birth to Now
The moment two parents decide to call the Universe to bring a human into the physical world is the moment expectations or put forth upon the unborn child. It’s here that the separations are created. The expectation and belief that every child that is born is only seen as straight, as a result, cause that child to feel as if, at a certain point in their life, through his self discovery of being gay, he/she must, by imposed expectations, then announce to his/her environment an opposing belief to that which has been externally imposed upon that child since birth. No matter where you are at now in life, the simplicity behind being gay and not being looked at as gay has already started for you. If you are gay and desire to not be looked upon as gay simply be YOU. You do not need to explain your self-discovery to your environment – just as a straight person does not tell the stories of when he/she discovered that they were straight. This is your part of the swap of perspectives – your part of the road. Be the best you that you can be NOW. Do not define yourself into a category for which you cannot relate to, if you do not desire to, NOW. At the most primitive level, you are a man that loves another male, that is okay. You do not need to restrain yourself to the exterior world’s opinion of what defines a gay male. That is society’s part in the swap of perspectives. Yes, the process would be much easier if the exterior world didn’t judge as much as it has into the gay community or what it means to be a gay person. However, the process to simply be accepted as YOU, can begin the moment you accept yourself fully as you are, and not make it a bigger deal than it should be.
Now, in the midst of all of this, I am not saying to NOT come out. In fact, in many cases, coming out can provide a sense of relief and increased happiness. This was proven true by The Atlantic as they performed a research study that discovered, “LGBT adults who were out were just as happy, healthy, and satisfied with their jobs as their straight counterparts. Out gay and bisexual men actually had lower rates of depression, and were more physically fit, than straight men.” With that being said, the idea that I want to put forth is that problems occur after the individual comes out. In this process, many individuals lose track of who they really are and define themselves based upon the labels set upon them. That’s the true source of the problem. Discover who you are and be that! Not what you think you should be because of a label.
From Separation to Coexistence
Look at yourself as the authentic, self-accepting image that you desire to be, not the image you think should be self-imposed, due to your new-found discovery of your sexuality. Let the world find out on their own. Actually, is there really anything to find out? You are not a herald to proclaim the messages of your personal life – there is a reason why it’s called a personal and private life. When you saw your straight best friend with his girlfriend, did you “find out” he was straight because you had a preconceived notion of what you thought he was? Society has to end the preconceived notions of what defines a gay person and simply allow their life to unfold and be as that certain individual desires for it to be. It’s called respect and acceptance. Once this occurs, we can drop the labels and expectations, and stop being looked upon as gay, and simply be loved.