I recently heard Macklemore’s song Same Love (yeah, I know..behind the times) and the song struck a chord (no pun intended) in me. The first few lines of the song made me cry. I remember being a kid, maybe 8 or 9, and realized I looked at girls and boys the same way. I didn’t know what that was called, I didn’t know who to tell, whether to tell, but I worried it was wrong because no one else seemed to feel the same way. It alienated me. I carried that alienation with me throughout the rest of my childhood, and as I got older and learned what being gay and bisexual were I felt more alienated. The kids around me made fun of gay kids, made it seem like there was something wrong with them, I didn’t want to be a target so I stayed quiet. I pretended to fit in, to be like everyone else and on the inside it hurt. I never felt like anyone understood me, and I felt like I couldn’t say anything. It wasn’t until high school that I found a small voice, I could stick up for others. I could say there was nothing wrong with them, they were just people, but I couldn’t say that I was one of them. I’d lived being something else for so long I didn’t know how to say it wasn’t me.
Even as an adult I often choose not to say anything about myself. I defend and fight for LGBT rights but in some ways I still feel like I’m not part of the community, probably because I’m not publicly out. In the few instances I’ve come out someone always demands I explain myself, explain “what” I am. Then there’s the implication I’m promiscuous, that I can’t be committed to someone or that I just don’t know what I want so I just call myself bisexual in order to cover up that I’m just a whore. It makes me feel like I have to explain myself, defend myself. I don’t ask anyone to explain their sexuality, why is mine up for scrutiny? Why should I have to give anyone explanations for feelings I could never explain even to myself. How do I explain something that just is, it was never a choice I made, in fact I tried hard to make myself fit in and be straight so it wouldn’t bother anyone else.
I have friends, two specifically who inspire me all the time, they are just themselves no matter what anyone else says. I admire their bravery and frequently wish I could borrow some of it. I hear so often that gay people should just shut up about being gay, and I wonder why we have to shut up. Why we’re not allowed to be who we are, freely and openly without restrictions, without being told we’re gross or going to hell or that we’re a bad influence and can’t have families because we’ll corrupt children. Why do we have to change, why can’t the world change? Why can’t I just say I’m bisexual and not have to answer a million questions that are really no one’s business. I’ve decided I won’t answer those questions anymore. I am me. This is who I am, I owe no explanations, I don’t have to justify anything to anyone. I’m tired of carrying around the alienation and the pressure to fit in. I don’t think I’ll ever fit in with mainstream society, and that’s OK now.
The chorus of Same Love is so simple but so true of all us, we can’t change, even if we tried, even if we wanted to. A straight person could no sooner choose to be gay than a gay person choose to be straight, it really is that simple. We are who we are, no explanations needed, no justifications, we’re all just people trying to find love and happiness.