Sí, soy gay.
I’m not a very good gay. I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t go on a lot of dates, I don’t go to Pride, I haven’t even gone to either of the gay discos in Bilbao in the three years I’ve lived here. I don’t fight for rights (but I do support LGBTQ rights, of course). I don’t have a six pack, I’m not a bear, I’m too “overweight” for the twinks, too thin for the bears, too young to be a daddy, over 30 so non existent to many. The people who I leaned on while coming to terms with my homosexuality are an ocean away with their own lives. I’m too well-adjusted with my homosexuality for the gay support groups, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t use that support. I just feel awkward in those groups…very out of place.
I was cut off from communication in the Sierra de la Demanda (entry coming soon, I think June 27th ;)) Sunday when the Internet was shocked by the news of the shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. When I got back in the land of 4G, it was my turn to be shocked. The news is affecting me a lot. It’s triggering my anxiety and depression. I thought it might be a good way to deal by writing out my coming out story and my first trip to a gay club and where I am now.
Growing up, I had some notion that I was different, but exposure to my father’s conservative radio programs meant that whatever “gay” was, it was a choice, so I chose to ignore those feelings. It worked during high school, but after a year in a Christian college (university) group, I was feeling very confused. When Ewan McGregor broke into “Your Song” in Moulin Rouge, it made me realise something. I was attracted to men.
I spent the summer agonizing what this meant. In October 2001, I went to a college newspaper conference in New Orleans, snuck away from my friends and went to a gay bar where I saw that hey, there were other gays in the world! I wasn’t alone!
I continued to struggle with accepting myself, and my struggles increased with every broken heart. In autumn 2003, I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain, and on a trip to Barcelona that October, I went to a gay club called Arena. I loved dancing and the Catalán nightlife. In 2011, I went back to Arena and relived my very first time. It was in Spain where I felt it was truly okay to be gay and started to accept myself.
Ever since, though, I feel pressured to go to gay bars/clubs even though they’re not really my thing. I’m not a big drinker, as the second glass of wine can have me tipsy some days, and instead of hang overs, I have anxiety the day after. Not worth it. I am pretty introverted, so it’s hard for me to meet people in that context. Once in a while, I need a night dancing, and it usually happens when I’m in Barcelona.
I struggle to find my place in the gay world where I don’t fit into any of the subcultures. I keep feeling like I’m trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. I’d rather spend my money on travel, and I’d rather spend my weekends in nature than at the disco. Different strokes for different folks.
Saying this, the news is upsetting because for everyone there, they just wanted to have a good time and to dance the night away with their friends and loved ones. This night was turned into hell on earth for them.
I still deal with a lot of fear that results from being born gay. I’m not out to my family for fear of their disapproval. I don’t talk about it at work (but if a co-worker asked, I wouldn’t deny it.) for fear of what may happen if someone who is homophobic found out. Many in the gay community need a place where they can be themselves without fear. Although more and more people find the courage to come out and be themselves every day, there are even more who are scared of this.
The anxiety and depression that this fear creates is not healthy. It causes undo stress. I fear that after the attacks, it could create more and more fear. My heart goes out to the friends and family of the people who lost their lives in Orlando. Hug someone you love today, if you can. Or let people you know they care for them. Try not to live in fear.
As I am embarking on my move to Valencia next week (!), my heart continues to hold to hope for the future. A future where no one has to be afraid to be who they are. A future for me that involves a great Valencian guy, two golden retrievers, a writing career and a house on the Mediterranean. A future where stories like this are a thing from the past.