By Joshie Jaxon
I have a question. At what age did you learn that you could be victimized just for being who you are?
The ladies in the house will probably tell you they learned at a young age that they could be molested, kidnapped, raped, drugged, beaten, sold into slavery or sex traffic, simply because they were girls. Because they were smeller, weaker, or more delicate than men, they always had to be on guard. Keep your keys out. Park under lights at night. Don’t go out alone. Watch what you wear. Watch what you drink. What you say. Who you say it to. Do everything you can not to make yourself a victim. Such bullshit. We strip our daughters of their innocence and their authentic selves, all because someone else doesn’t recognize their rights and autonomy as equal.
A second question. This one for the homos, specifically. When did you learn that you had to hide who you were in order to fit in? I was never sat down and told not to cry, or show my feelings in order to be a man. My mom never said not to look too long in a locker room or I could be called a fag. However, I still learned to repress who I was, cause who I was was bad. Men don’t cry, and if they do, they get made fun of. You don’t discuss feelings, that makes you soft. Stare where you shouldn’t, and people will treat you differently. I didn’t get to live as my authentic self. I wasn’t raised with my dad. I know him now, and he’s wonderful( but I wonder how my personality and view of the world, and masculinity, would be different if I’d had him in my life sooner. Would I have learned that it was alright to cry when I was sad, or happy? Would I have felt comfortable discussing my attraction to the boys my age rather than girls? I’ll never know for sure. My adolescence was one of repression and fear. Hearing Barry Manilow referred to as “barely man enough”, coupled with not seeing any strong gay representation in the media at the time, I was alone and cutoff from finding myself and my tribe.
I’ve since found where I belong, and try to live my life as I am. I don’t retreat to the closet, at work or in public. However, I’m still very much aware that as an out gay man that I could be assaulted one day, for no good reason other than who I love. I’m one who parks near lights at night, and keeps my keys out, because even though I’m a fully grown man, that fear has very deep roots. I’m always aware of my surroundings, as well as exits when I go somewhere new. I don’t want to be a victim, but I’m the back of my mind I’m always aware that I could be. Is it fair to me? To my sister? Hell, to anyone? No, it isn’t, but it’s the reality we live in.
My final question is to the straight men. When were you taught that you were better than the rest of us? Short answer, you weren’t. Until or unless you’ve lived with the decades of persecution and fear, simply for being a straight man, the worry that you’ll wind up in the hospital, that your family will disown you, that you could lose your job, that you could be beaten and left for dead, you don’t need or deserve a straight pride anything. Sit your ass down and let us have our once a year event where we can feel 100% accepted. The thing you take for granted, Every. Single. Day.