"Why does everything with you have to be so gay?" the chat box bleeped in the lower right corner of my screen. It was someone I once knew from my conservative hometown, a place I've scarcely shown my face in two decades.
Social media has returned people to our lives that ought not be there. With our fancy phones, the past is lurking right there in your pocket. Everyone with whom you've ever crossed paths is somewhere behind a screen liking a picture of your salad or making passive aggressive hashtag judgements on your posts.
Of course these naysayers can blocked, but that often happens after you realize that you assembled the worst online party of all time. Your parents. Your old youth pastor. Drag queens. Porn stars. Clarence. (He may not be named Clarence in your world, but you know who I'm talking about. That friend.) So, like many of us, I went through a great Facebook purge. A Duck Dynasty meme? Unfriend. A pro-Sarah Palin reference? Delete. A cross-stiched, Bible verse jpeg about men lying with men? Actually, that's amazing and I want it on a T-shirt.
I then realized these people need my voice in their lives. Homophobic views thrive in the absence of actual homosexuals. And worse yet, I'll end up as the person they are referring to when they say, "I have tons of gay friends, but..."
So, I've been allowing some reconnections with my fundamentalist Christian past.
"I mean, I don't care about your sexuality, but does everything you talk about have to be gay?" this old friend typed. In all fairness, I do let it rip on Twitter and Facebook. I've always been somewhat of a button pusher; on my conservative friends' feeds, I probably seem a sort of "Richard Simmons After Dark," if you will.
This "stop flaunting it" sentiment really gets my big gay goat. Being gay isn't some weird hobby. It's not a penis fetish. (Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan.) It's who I am. My sexuality runs a thread through every part of my being, just as it does for all people both gay and straight.
Every straight-person-post about date night, engagements and babies is a display of heterosexuality. That weird selfie of the two of them peck kissing at Applebee's? Blatant display of straightness. A "Which Romantic Comedy Are You" quiz? They got The Notebook. I got Showgirls. My point is, we are all expressing our sexuality non-stop in sometimes bold, but more often subtle, ways.
I was taking a stroll with a seemingly progressive friend here in Nashville. There was a lesbian couple nearby holding hands -- a sight that's becoming fairly common in larger southern cities. My friend made an out-of-character comment that they were trying to "make a statement." I suggested they quite possibly might just be holding hands. Many straight people -- even allies -- are used to gays being shamed into discretion. If we behave with the same emotional freedom as they it could initially come off to them as an inappropriate display.
It might seem like flaunting, but it's simply humans acting like humans.
I'm tired of being an ambassador. I'm tired of being the understanding one, but it's the position I'm in. It's the position you are in. So next time it's suggested you tone it down, give our straight brothers and sisters an understanding pardon, then turn it up. They will never relax if we cater to uncomfortable sensibilities. As for me, my social media feed will continue to flame and sparkle, and if you don't like it, there's my backdoor. And I mean that in the gayest way possible.