Here’s a text that I wrote in April for Bandersnatch, an alternative press student newspaper at John Abbott College. It deals with my experience being a queer male in today’s society.
I belong to one of the most hated minority groups on the planet. Yet being queer is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I live every day in the middle of this uncanny contradiction.
I’m male, and I live with a boyfriend whom I love dearly. I have sex with men, and I’ve been fantasizing about it since I was a young teenager – men are yummy! I lead a happy life, and I have a fulfilling job as a community organizer. I write and read a lot, and I spend a healthy amount of time playing all sorts of games, for fun. I also put my life in danger daily, biking through downtown Montreal.
My previous job was being a video game tester in a work environment where the young heterosexual male is the norm. I would always hear people say stuff like “that’s so gay” or calling each other “faggots” – not that they were the real thing, mind you (although you never know). I was pretty open about my sexual orientation there, and people were usually pretty indifferent about it, unless I asked them to be more careful about their language or hinted to the fact that I had a sex life, in conversations where everybody else was already talking about sex. Some people were cool with that. Some others were quick to question my sense of humor, or to ask me to just shut up. One of them even said once that if I have a problem with that, it must be because I have a hard time accepting myself. Nah, I just have a hard time accepting self-centered idiots.
I could have become a statistic: 1 gay male in 3 has made a suicide attempt at some point in his life. In comparison, less than 1 straight guy in 20 has done so. Violence could have happened, too. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who works in a gay bar put posters up to remind people to be careful in the Village, because a few people have been recently beaten up there for being queer. I steer clear of places like Jamaica – notorious for its homophobic violence – and Iran (President Ahmadinejad boasts they don’t have gays there – they hang them). My life is valuable enough in my eyes to protect it – I’m going to be a famous queer sci-fi Quebecois writer someday, and it’d be nice if the honor was not posthumous.
Obviously, I don’t spend my days dodging threats to my life – except when I’m biking, of course. The threat of homophobia rarely comes to the foreground. But it’s there. Sometimes, I wonder at the restaurant if I should say “my friend” instead of “my boyfriend” to the waiter – after all, he could spit in the fags’ dish when we’re not looking. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m being too bold when I hold my boyfriend’s hand in the street – I occasionally look over my shoulder, just to be on the safe side.
I said that being queer is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It is. In the end, it made me brave. It made me cherish how different and unique I am, how I belong to something special. It has led me off the beaten path, let me see secrets beyond the seeming normalcy of people’s lives. I have bonded in friendship with other males to an extent that most straight guys will never experience. And as I said, men are just yummy.
Still, sometimes, it’s not easy being queer.