About “not flaunting it”

Many people claim they are allies, but aren’t aware that some of the things they say are actually pretty homophobic and hurtful.

I hope to take a look at several of these things to try to both educate my friends and family, and also start a discussion. Starting with this one…

“It’s totally cool that you’re gay…just don’t flaunt it.”

We’ve heard that criticism many times in the past few weeks, especially since Jason Collins came out of the closet.

Josh Levin wrote a great piece on Slate  about how this is a new, interesting form of homophobia. This comes mostly from people who claim that they don’t care about people’s homosexuality. But “not caring” should not to be confused with indifference. Indifference is fine. Not caring about the struggles that a closeted person has had to deal with his whole life is inhuman.

I even heard it from a few of my family members.

“I’m happy for you, I don’t mind and I love you…but you don’t need to flaunt it,” one family member said when I came out.

And Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel said, “Straight people … are not announcing they’re straight, so why everybody have to announce their sexuality or whatever.”

Little do these people know that they are actually being pretty homophobic.

Here’s the thing: Straight people do announce that they’re straight. Every day. Multiple times a day. And they don’t even realize it.

It was one of the hardest things for me to deal with while I was in the closet.

Every time a guy talks about what he did with his girlfriend last weekend, or how hot that girl across the room is or even wears a wedding ring (at least in 39 of the 50 states) – he is flaunting his heterosexuality. Those are things to which I can’t relate. Uncomfortably, I would smile and quietly agree that the girl across the room is a 10.

When a straight guy at work talks about how he went to the movies with his girlfriend, a closeted coworker does not have similar stories to share and is thus uncomfortable – leaving him to wonder, “should I talk about what my boyfriend and I did last weekend, would he accept that?”

Now, I’m not saying men shouldn’t talk about their girlfriends, eyeball attractive women or wear wedding rings. That’s perfectly fine. If I’m uncomfortable, that’s my problem to deal with.

But those same straight people have absolutely no right to then turn around and say, “Straight people are not announcing they’re straight, so why everybody have to announce their sexuality or whatever.”

Straight people announce it every day. So, now that I’ve come to terms with it myself, I’m not going to hide it anymore. When I find a boyfriend, you bet your ass I’ll talk about what my boyfriend and I did over the weekend. I might even talk about how attractive that guy across the room is. If that makes you uncomfortable, that’s your problem to deal with. Just like it’s my problem when you tell me how hot that girl is.

We should be celebrating everyone for who they are – gay or straight. If you are a straight guy lucky enough to find a great girlfriend, you should talk about her and I should be happy for you. If I am lucky enough to find a great boyfriend, I should talk about him and you should be happy for me.

If that’s “flaunting it,” then so be it.

I’ve hid it for too long.

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