The Glass Closet
It took me awhile--make that a long time--to admit I was gay. There were all these stereotypes of a gay person and I grew up with it.
I have a cousin who was effeminate, who came out to his parents the day he was born. He played with girl's clothes and make-ups and soon started wearing them. My relatives never took him seriously. Behind his back, he was mocked and laughed at.
How can I be like that? I thought.
It was a struggle coming to terms with my orientation, because I can't see myself in my cousin. I can't imagine being in his shoes, even if it's a Manolo. I like guys. That was the only similarity I saw between us. In everything else, we were vastly different.
Maybe I'm not, I thought. Maybe I'm bi?
There was that big question mark hanging over my head. And for a time, I had described myself as bisexual. Because till the end of time, I will love Natalie Portman. And I've had girl crushes more than guy crushes. The ratio was probably 1:4. For every one guy I had a crush on, I would have 4 girls. I get easily attracted to beautiful girls, while I would hardly notice a guy unless he's got hunk written all over his six-pack abs.
It was an easy escape, to have a bisexual definition of myself. After all, a large part of Kinsey's scale shows varying degrees of bisexuality from 1 to 5 with only 0 and 6 as exclusively heterosexual and homosexual, respectively.
But I wasn't comfortable with the definition. It felt like an excuse to please the world, while having a secret life. I couldn't admit it to myself. I wasn't straight; I wasn't curious; I wasn't bisexual. I wasn't any of those variations. They were things I told myself to fit into some mold that couldn't fit into the gay stereotypes.
I've noticed some articles in Philippine showbiz asking actors if they get indecent proposals from gays. It's like a standard question for any actor already. It always makes me wince. There's the underlying notion that gay love comes with a price, that it's not true. It's just money and sexual favors. If not that, then gays are played for laughs and ridicule. Nobody will respect you if you're gay.
I guess it boiled down to that. I don't like to be ridiculed or scorned or stoned for who I am. Just because I'm gay doesn't make me any less human. That was the difficult part, not letting my orientation define who I am. There's this notion that gays are the weaker of the weak sex. And then I thought, if I'm gay and I can outdrink all my straight friends in a drinking session, does that make them gayer than I am?
Yes, I'm gay; but no, I'm not weaker than the next regular guy on the train.
There was an unconscious effort on my part to distance myself from the gay stereotype I grew up with. It wasn't hard. I took the focus out of my being gay and simply did what I wanted to do. I took it out of the conversation; never denied it, never confirmed it.
I never came out of the closet. There were no grand coming out parties or teary revelations. I'm still inside. But this time it's a little less opaque. More like a glass closet, where I'm seen from the outside. I'm out in every way but a simple confirmation statement. My Facebook is littered with pictures of me and my partner and everyone in my friends list can see it, including relatives, high school and college friends. I've heard of speculations, but I don't feel compelled to make a statement worthy of a People magazine cover.
I guess this is my middle ground. The balance from which I can live my life in my own terms without being ridiculed or pigeonholed. I'm a human first. And there are all these secondary things I can say of myself. I was a brother; I'm a son; I'm this and that. I did all these things and more. The last thing I can say about myself is that I'm gay.
Maybe someday that glass will be shattered, but for now, I'm fine with it. It's a degree of transparency that's not too intrusive.