Growing Up Too Gay To Function

“I want my pink shirt back,” Damian can be heard yelling out of the window of the moving car in the iconic movie, Mean Girls.

For many, this movie helped define a generation. For gays, it helped give us a voice.

I cannot tell you how many times I have yelled that same phrase out of a moving car. I can tell you, I’ve yelled it out of a moving car at least once this year.

Growing up “too gay to function” is something different than being gay today and it’s a hard concept for me to pinpoint or describe. A mere two and half decades ago, when I was fighting for equal rights on a playground, and telling my friends I thought Howie from the Backstreet Boy’s was cute, I was left friendless on that same playground.

Flash forward to a few years ago when my best friend came out to me and the world via a YouTube video – and you should have seen the praise he received.

He controlled the narrative of his coming out. I didn’t have such a luxury. The difference? I was born into my outwardly gay self, already “too gay to function” when I chose to play dress up at age nine, and had crushes on my class mates in kindergarten.

Now don’t get me wrong. I played a mean game, pretending to be bi before being gay. I even dated a girl or two. But it was all for not, a game frankly, to try to hide the fact that I was indeed gay and I’ve known I am my entire life.

For me, so has the rest of the world.

Being born too gay to function, has also meant I didn’t have a choice but to fight for marriage equality. My junior year in high school my English teacher assigned me a report about the Stonewall Rebellion, and I had no choice but to author and support any gay legislation in our mock-Congress in Speech and Debate.

What happened to Matthew Shepard, for instance, did not scare me because they were just random acts but instead they scared me because they seem to all too easy, all so very practically expected for gay men during that generation. But only for gay men who were too gay to function. Gay men like myself.

I remember being tortured for being gay. Spit on once at a camp where I was also sexually propositions by a camp counselor. Punched in the face twice in the guys bathroom in seventh grade. It’s no wonder why I can remember all to easily how badly I wanted to die rather than live in a world who hated gays so much. I remember trying to take my own life in sixth grade. And many times over the years after that.

I also remember the friends I’ve lost on the way. And I take note of how many of them are gay today.

They came out when it was better. They got cake.

I got spit on.

It’s hard for me to explain how distant being gay feels now. It’s not a cause for celebration to me during this pride month. It’s a cause for remembering why we have pride month at all.

It wasn’t easy for us to get to cake and celebration, but I have to just wonder how many even know what the Stonewall Rebellion was? What the Defense of Marriage Act said?

I remember them both because they’re part of who I am, being too gay to function, and not having a choice.

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