“Gay is just one part of me, it doesn’t define me.” Of course you’ve heard this before. Or maybe it was something along the lines of “It’s just a part of me, not the most important part of me,” or even “it’s not really a factor.”
Well. While I respect and accept that there are gay people for which being gay doesn’t seem to be all that important a… Let’s say “quality”… in their lives, I can’t honestly say that I believe that’s true.
In terms of how being gay has affected my life, I would say it’s possibly been the single most influential factor in the creation of my identity, whether I was previously aware of it or not.
I’m fairly sure that had I not been gay I would have taken no interest in fashion, and consequently would not have ended up in New York for four and a half years studying clothing design. Actually, I may not even have cared about art at all. I would have a better relationship with my father for sure. I’d have taken an interest in baseball, basketball, boxing etc. and enjoyed watching the games with him more than flipping through magazines. I’d never have developed a sense of resentment towards him because he’d never have tried to change me. I would probably feel more at ease in a barber shop. I would probably trust straight men more. I’d never have fallen in love with a man; a man who was deeply depressed; a man who died too young. And if it were a woman I’d fallen for, I’d be able to tell my father about it, and my mother would have actually taken me to lay flowers at the grave like she said she would.
I probably wouldn’t wear pink.
But I don’t pretend to represent anyone else in the so called “gay community”. I represent myself. You know, if you let others represent you, your image is up to them, and they never get it right. Ever. If you think being gay is just a small facet of your identity then that’s swell, but perhaps if you thought about how different your life would be if you weren’t, you’d see why people tend to make such a deal of defining themselves.
That being said, the most recent conversation in which I heard this argument was while on a visit to New York. Sitting among a group of gays who had all met at gay events, clubs, or bars (or even—the horror—apps!), at a very gay brunch in the East Village, I couldn’t help but think whether that person had considered that he would probably never have met anyone sitting at our table had he not been gay. He wouldn’t even have been in the restaurant.