I hate rainbow flags.
And no, it’s not because I hate who I am. And no, it’s not because my sexuality is a secret. It’s also not because I often still sleep with women, although I think that’s what the ‘B’ stands for in the pride alliance’s acronym. I never had any interest in the group, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
I never even explicitly told my parents I was gay, bisexual, or questioning. (Is that what the ‘Q’ stands for or is it ‘queer’? How is queer different from gay?). Here’s where my apathy takes over.
After I’d been dating my first real boyfriend Shaun for six months, I decided it was finally time to tell Mom and Dad. This was a couple of months after they drove down to Virginia to tell me my Dad was moving into a house 20 minutes from my parent’s place in Hampton. Divorce was never mentioned – I guess indirect communication is a learned behavior. We had lunch at Piccadilly’s after the big reveal, and we talked about the dogs and my siblings. My family is fucking weird.
So anytime someone finds out that I sleep with men they inevitably ask “how did your parents take it?“. This is more common in the less educated, the more sheltered, and the people being paid to hang out with me (i.e. therapists). For me, the story was old after I told it to the first person, but trained professionals always find the role reversal fascinating.
I’m 85% sure I told my Dad first. We were in his truck and he basically shrugged, “cool, whatever makes you happy“. I suppose I should mention that my parents were very aware of my compulsive behaviors (heroin addiction, sex, spending), so I had warmed them up pretty well. I’m convinced I could have told them that I wanted to become a woman, and as long as I was going to do it clean, they would be on board. They were probably just happy that Shaun wasn’t a drugged-out stripper or a 45-year-old millionaire
I told my mom when she came to Virginia. It was a brilliant Fall day, so I took her to the lake at Shenandoah U. I told her I was dating Shaun, and she started to cry. Then she said something about not getting grandchildren and protecting myself if I was going to ‘live this lifestyle’. Not what I was expecting, but it’s irrelevant because she’s treated my two serious boyfriends better than I did.
The point of retelling this ‘coming out’ story is that I never gave my family a label. I never wanted to be just an identification to them, and I didn’t want them to start buying me glittered halter tops for Christmas. My family is intelligent enough not to succumb to such base stereotypes, but most of the world is not.
I also can’t stand the questions. “So, which one of you is the woman?”. And I certainly won’t invite them with a rainbow flag stuck to the back of my car. I refuse to form an identity based on who I decide to sleep with at night. Hopefully there are at LEAST ten other definitive things one could reference before calling me ‘gay Nick’.
So, I will never be anyone’s ‘gay best friend’, their go to for fashion advice (even though I’m kind of good at it), and if you have a pride flag next to your profile picture on Facebook, we probably won’t be friends.
I will always be Nick, a son, a brother, a narcissist, a drug enthusiast, a dreamer, an adventurer, and a writer, who sometimes falls in love with men.