• Steven File


I am currently on my roof querying how suburbia looks so dead yet so deeply alive — this facade of faux splendor and happiness for the outside world, yet a concealment of its deepest secrets that are left in vain. Perhaps this is us. An oxymoronic, yet profoundly dichotomous struggle between closetedness versus being out; it has been eating me up the last few days, like the apology I never quite got to.

From my birth, femininity was a shadow and a curse, as if Pan and Hook had a sort of friends with benefits relationship — me, their byproduct or, perhaps, by proxy. I have always been alive yet experienced this resentment for the outside world, its ability to press labels on a young boy who could barely write his name, let alone his sexuality. Dancing on the soccer field. Singing "Don't Rain on My Parade." Drawing dresses on my wall. Justin Bieber posters under my bed, the monster of the fragile form of masculinity.

My mom says she always knew I was gay; did she mean happy? Or feminine? Or attracted to the same sex before even puberty dawned — the ice age of sexual awakening that wouldn't melt my mind until my sixth grade homeroom class. It puzzles me. Each piece another memory I recall in the hallway of insomnia: was it that boy you cried about when he left your pre-school class? Or that first episode of Glee? Or that monster under you bed? Did society somehow reconfigure my neuropathways, drench them in some correlation of femininity and queerness, manufacturing me this label: gay.

Not happy, but homosexual. Sexual at age 6, but homo, meaning same, because God knows that I was the typical kid — pretend tap dancing in the rain, forging odd characters out of every recycled material of my home, or those towers of random materials I called my home. Oh, perhaps what made me "homo" was the abusive parent, or the divorced parents, or the mother with cancer, or the distant brother, or the constant bullying. Did society fuck me up so badly that I was left gay. Not happy, but, rather, the lecture from my father about Hell, or the quick change of channels once two boys expressed interest in one another, or the long talks about how not to sway my hips to and fro, because a boy doesn't do that, unless they're gay. Not happy, but a pedophile, or AIDS patient, or sexualized demon.

Funny how I knew all of that by age 10. Funny how I didn't know who I was until — oh.

People always tell me that they wish, some fairy or fairy dust lingering out of their breath, that I could be as prideful and powerful as I am in my identity. Is this what being out means? Being lost with every step, your one-piece puzzle being — GAY! Woohoo! You are attracted to men, only men. Now, you can be a stereotype, a best friend, an artist, an activist, a poster child for what it means to be...different. Not "homo" but different. Not in a bad way, just not like every one else.

I think that this label, this tattoo made on the pupils of my star-crossed eyes, is what drives me to men, rather masculine figures, that aren't so "out." They seem to live in this perplexing universe, where they get to decide who they are, no, the facade that they are. They seem to get to make all the decisions, for me, for you, for themselves. They seem to be the white, "straight" men of this country thriving off of gay people; more often than not, they're not happy, but maybe gay.

Labels are not truth. Think causation versus correlation. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're left for people to accept that that's what they're meant to be. Straight. Gay. Homosexual. Happy. Closeted. Who knows what else. Society is this printer press, some heirloom of the past that will not stop pressing the numbers and past decades into our skin, our veins, our neuropathways, and our minds.

At the end of the day, I am attracted to men. I am feminine. I am different. I am depressed. I am anxious. I am male. I am lonely. Not gay, not out, not closeted, not straight. But somehow, because I walk this way, talk this way, love this way, dress this way, cry this way, feel this way, then I must be gay — not happy. Gay.

But hey. When you look at me, or your "closeted" friends, I hope you see suburbia in our eyes. See that we're living, but, more often than not, we want to be dead. See our secrets of identity and those we love lingering in our veins like AIDS and privilege. See that we're the same person, just living very different lives. Living not being alive. Not being happy. Not because we're "out" or "closeted," but because we're not alive, we're living a label.

And sometimes I want to apologize to that young boy for not ripping it off to being with.

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