During some parts of my teen years, it was like I was on a mission to take every single existing “Am I Gay?” quiz on the internet. These were obviously very helpful and accurate tools crafted by other brilliant teenagers on deviantART and Tumblr and other such cesspools of budding identities and self-expression. The results were… varied.
I’m pretty confident the tests themselves revealed more about the person making them than the people taking them, no surprise there. I remember feeling a little battered by some of them, where the creator seemed bent on demanding I make up my mind instead of providing the middle option, the “both” option, the box where I check “all.”
The quizzes sucked and, unsurprisingly, couldn’t tell me anything about who I was. Because I knew I liked boys; I would pick one and fixate for months at a time, the way young teenagers do. But the quizzes couldn’t explain why I had this embarrassing tendency to fixate on certain girl-friends in the same way. I could accidentally imagine a whole life together with close female friends, where we somehow shared the same house and worked in the same industry and were… always together. I’d realize a decade later how badly I was repressing and redirecting these crushes.
I had a good reason not to tell anyone. I attended a private Christian school, and my enrollment could be at stake. Not to mention, according to what I was being taught, such willful deviation from God’s Plan (serious Drake fans, those teachers) could also jeopardize my soul. So I did what any queer child in a hostile environment does: I buddied up with the other closeted gays, did my best to Not Think Gay Thoughts, leaned into those boy crushes extra hard, and took Armand Goldman’s advice to keep it all inside (boy did I love The Birdcage! No reason at all, nothing to see here! Don’t look at me! I’m HIDEOUS!)
So I kept my head down. But not anywhere it didn’t belong, like between someone’s legs or something, God forbid. One day at like 16 it really occurred to me consciously, and I told a couple of friends, whom I immediately had to assure I was not confessing my love to them. It was always just going to be a secret, just an extra fact about me that wasn’t relevant because, after all, I could simply marry a man since I was still attracted to them. No need to worry.
I could have continued that way. I could have chosen to deny myself forever. But just a couple of years later I would step out of a literal closet and fire a confetti cannon to announce myself after years of hiding it all away. For a long time I had myself convinced that I was choosing the easier option by pretending to be straight and ignoring the way I felt about friends, coworkers, Tumblr girls I got a little too attached to…
In the end, it came down to just one thing: Was a life of pretending enough for me? Or could I be happier in honesty and fullness? I could find happiness doing what I was already doing, but what joy was I willingly passing up on to maintain a standard I never asked to be measured by?
So I came out. And I was suddenly very alone, because all of my Christian friends turned their backs on me. So I filled my time in gay bars, dancing and convincing folks to buy me drinks. I made out on dance floors. I came on fingers and hands in the bathroom and got so loud the bouncers came to shoo me and my fleeting lovers away. I got my car towed because I was so distracted fucking a married woman in her car that I forgot the parking expired on mine. I crammed years of youthful experimentation into a couple of months.
As I sit here, a little wiser now than I was then, within view of not one, but two people who love me very much, I’m so glad I took the journey I did. Because lying to myself and everyone else wasn’t enough for me. And I hope, if you’re finding this because you’re wondering if you are gay or straight or bisexual, that you ask yourself that question, too. Because you CAN have a good life pretending. But you can have a better life, a richer life, living your truth. And if you’re like me, I want that for you, even if I never meet or know you.
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Happy loving, my dears!