I’m From Pembroke, MA.

by John H.

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I am cursed with two dueling character traits that very often test the limits of this gay seventeen-year-old. On one hand, I am very proud of who I am. I wake up in the morning and I am happy with the person I see in the mirror. Part of who I am is gay, and I wouldn’t change it if I could. But on the other hand, I have fairly developed social skills. I recognize that sometimes “going with the flow” is the best way to keep friends. The issue I so often have is when to stand up for gayness in an overwhelmingly straight world.

I guess I don’t fit into people’s expectations of what gay people are like. Straight people often expect their neighborhood gays to be “camp” or “fem”. And if you don’t fit the stereotypes people are expecting, I suppose most people you encounter in daily life just assume you’re straight. But that creates some challenges for a guy who’s happily gay.

When a casual acquaintance says something like, “How you managing with the girls?”, what do I say? My typical response is to smile, laugh, shrug, and move the conversation along as quickly as possible. Socially, that’s the easiest thing to do. But really, it kills me a little inside. I feel like I am giving in. I feel ashamed that I’m being dishonest about something that doesn’t warrant dishonesty. If I responded with “Oh, I’m gay”, the conversation is dead. A lot of straight people still find gayness awkward. But I think sometimes, I’d feel much better about myself by sacrificing the conversation instead of lying by omission about stuff like that.

When is truth worth awkwardness?

When someone who doesn’t know me well enough to know I’m gay drops a “Zac Effron is such a fag” or “that’s so gay”, what is the line before I should do something? What do I do when the line is crossed? Gentle reprimand? Punch in the nose? Cold shoulder? Making an issue out of something like that is very difficult considering how common it is in teenage vernacular. The person would tell me they intended no offense and I would be inclined to believe them. That doesn’t make it right.

When are principles worth friends?

Perhaps this wisdom comes with age, but at seventeen, this little dilemma eats away at me.

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