I'm gay so I'm contractually obligated to talk about Love, Simon

 I like seeing movies by myself. I know some people probably see me at the theater and think I'm weird or sad, but I really do enjoy going to the movies alone. The other day, in the small, conservative town of Concord, NC, I was sitting by myself behind a row full of 12-year-old girls who gasped and whispered and giggled in delight every time anything gay happened in Love, Simon. I listened as a fairly full theater of people sighed when the boy kissed the other boy, and I felt silly.  I felt silly that every time I get out of my car, I put my wallet and phone away into pockets or my fanny pack because they have rainbow flags on them and I don't want anyone to see that. I felt silly that I refer to my girlfriend as "my significant other" when I'm talking to customers at work, I felt silly for all the times I just answered "no" when people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I felt silly for all the times I haven't kissed my girlfriend in public or held her hand. I like seeing movies by myself, but I wish my girlfriend had been next to me at Love, Simon so I could say, "Look! We're just like those people on screen!"  I wasn't expecting to like Love, Simon. The trailer made it seem like it was just going to be attractive white gay guys, and I've grown tired of media  only  focusing on the White Gay Guy portion of the LGBT community. But then I read the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a whole lot more diverse than I was expecting. The author obviously worked hard to make her characters diverse and to include their diversity as part of the story, which made me enjoy this book way more than I usually enjoy YA books. (Oh and just as an aside - the book is better than the movie by far. Simon's friends don't shun and abandon him after he comes out, which was the absolute least realistic part of the movie.)   When I left the movie theater on Friday, I felt like showing off. I wanted to tell complete strangers that I'm gay and show them pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wanted to tell those young girls that my life looks like Simon's, that I hope they would cheer for me the way they cheered for him. 

I like seeing movies by myself. I know some people probably see me at the theater and think I'm weird or sad, but I really do enjoy going to the movies alone. The other day, in the small, conservative town of Concord, NC, I was sitting by myself behind a row full of 12-year-old girls who gasped and whispered and giggled in delight every time anything gay happened in Love, Simon. I listened as a fairly full theater of people sighed when the boy kissed the other boy, and I felt silly.

I felt silly that every time I get out of my car, I put my wallet and phone away into pockets or my fanny pack because they have rainbow flags on them and I don't want anyone to see that. I felt silly that I refer to my girlfriend as "my significant other" when I'm talking to customers at work, I felt silly for all the times I just answered "no" when people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I felt silly for all the times I haven't kissed my girlfriend in public or held her hand. I like seeing movies by myself, but I wish my girlfriend had been next to me at Love, Simon so I could say, "Look! We're just like those people on screen!"

I wasn't expecting to like Love, Simon. The trailer made it seem like it was just going to be attractive white gay guys, and I've grown tired of media only focusing on the White Gay Guy portion of the LGBT community. But then I read the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a whole lot more diverse than I was expecting. The author obviously worked hard to make her characters diverse and to include their diversity as part of the story, which made me enjoy this book way more than I usually enjoy YA books. (Oh and just as an aside - the book is better than the movie by far. Simon's friends don't shun and abandon him after he comes out, which was the absolute least realistic part of the movie.) 

When I left the movie theater on Friday, I felt like showing off. I wanted to tell complete strangers that I'm gay and show them pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wanted to tell those young girls that my life looks like Simon's, that I hope they would cheer for me the way they cheered for him. 

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A classmate told me this week that it's annoying how often I talk about being gay and that it "just gets really old." Now, to get one thing straight - I'm an annoying person regardless of my being gay. But that being said, it hurt to be told that my comments about my sexuality annoy others. School is one of my "safe" places, where I know I can talk about being gay and I'm not going to, say, lose a tip over it. What my classmate sees as annoying, I see as my overcompensating. So often in my life I have to adjust what I say and how I act in order to accommodate others and make sure I don't make them uncomfortable. 

 

After this incident in class, I talked to the dean of the school because she's also a lesbian. She's 56 years old, and she told me that she recently introduced her wife to someone as "my friend" because she thought they might be uncomfortable. That was incredibly disheartening for me. I had hoped that at some point in my life I won't have to censor myself in certain situations, but it turns out we are all doing it. Even white, older gays who move in progressive circles are still struggling with being out and proud. We are all forced to adjust the way we talk and the way we act to avoid being told that we're annoying or inappropriate. And I've got it easy - there are gays that adjust the way they talk for fear of being kicked out of their homes, being fired, being harmed or even killed. 

It may sound silly, but hearing everybody cheer at the big gay kiss at the end of Love, Simon makes me want to hold my gay head up just a little bit higher.