Like many other baby gays, I frequently asked myself this same question as a kid. I didn't feel gay and I knew I didn't look gay. All the gay people I had seen on TV were guys anyway so I assumed only men could be gay. Sure, I had two girlfriends before I even dated a man. And yes, I might have practiced kissing on a few girls before high school but kissing women a gay does not make. (I'm looking at you girls on lesbian Tinder trying to "make friends".) And for as far as I could see, our family didn't seem to create gay people.
I am the daughter of a pastor's son and a former choir director so none of us could possibly be gay. Not for our own sake, but the family's as well. Ok, so I knew I wasn't gay but that didn't stop gay people from finding me. Not to toot my own horn but ever since I could remember I was a gay magnet. I was a curious kid, and I never liked to judge anybody before we had a fake tea party first. I also didn't have a ton of friends so if someone was willing to hang out with me, why lose the opportunity? In elementary school, one of my grade school girlfriends found me by asking me if kissing a girl is bad. We were in catholic school at the time so I just told her, "As long as you go to confessional, I don't see why you can't kiss them." Almost immediately after I started hanging out with her, the most flamboyant boy in our class declared me his "best friend". Our queer crew would terrorize the playground with our gay debauchery like impromptu fashion shows, dance battles, and singing competitions. Throughout middle and high school I often became the person my gay friends would come out to or ask my opinion on the "rightness" of being queer.This was also the time I started to get involved in the gay club scenes in my city.
My best friend and I would go hit up raves, festivals, and drag shows whenever we could. We had amazing dance moves, impeccable style, and enough energy to dance from dawn to dusk. Eventually the queens who worked the nights we would sneak into the bar would start talking to us, inviting us to parties, drag shows, and introducing us to some incredible people in the gay community. I always tell people I found my heart in a gay bar. It was the only place I didn't feel the most overdressed, or the loudest, or the most extra, or the most of anything. Everyone was just literally doing them. And I fucked with that, heavy. Everyone always seemed to be telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing- but not the gays. Instead of a "What do you have on?", I would strut in the bar and hear a "WERK SIS!" from the back. I would jump furiously up and down, gyrate my hips as fast as I could, and frequently fall to the floor while attempting to dance and all I would hear was applause. The atmosphere had exactly what I- a young gaybie was missing: acceptance.
I could accept that I was different and that I was a really great friend of lots of gays but never accept that I might be gay myself. All of my friends were gay, and I saw the hassle it caused them. Parents kicking people out, being sent to reformation camps, or just outright being abused at home. And I could barely tell my parents I lost my lunch money I wasn't going to tell them I was gay. This was the reality I did not want to accept. That life was going to be harder as soon as I actually came outside with one of my girlfriends. People might try to beat me up, or yell at me, and in high school I was not ready for all that shit. Note to self: you are NOT gay missy! I was choosing to take a pretty shitty ally ship for the gay community and seemed content with my fucked up mindset until I went to college.
Moving away from home did wonders for my gay energy.I started hanging out with people who had been openly gay for way longer than I was. I learned about the history of those parties and those queens that made me feel so accepted when I was younger. I was taught ways to combat bigotry and misogyny when I am out by myself or with my queer friends. I was given many a make-over, a horoscope reading, and a late night kiki on all things homosexual. And I agreed with most of everything being gay came with. I definitely wanted in. For good this time. It's funny. It's like when you move away from an oppressive environment to one full of freedom that you will actually start to accept your truth and be happier? Who knew? I started dressing like the butch fem fantasy I had always dreamed of. When asked my sexual orientation I started proudly and loudly (and at every opportunity I could) saying queer. I noticed that my friends from adolescence must have had their gay battery charged too and saw lots of coming out posts. I commented a very enthusiastic "YAAAASSS BITCH YOU BETTA" on every post I saw. I started forcing the people around me to accept my queerness in a full ready-or-not here I come fashion! The ones who complained that it was too much too soon were swiftly booted out of the homophobe door of straight-land back to their comfort of wearing matching T-shirts from a mall kiosk and chugging beers or whatever it is that the str8s do.
I decided finally that after seeing other Black butch, trans, femme, and queer women go through the fucking ringer so that my gay ass could soar, that the last thing I could at least try to do is repay the favor. I learned my history and I was adamant in helping to not repeat it.I decided that I wasn't going to reap the benefits of being apart of something without actually being a part of anything.I stopped being a coward and stood up for myself and my fellow queers whenever someone thought they had something slick to say. I decided that all gay people are valid, worthy, and completely normal. (I guess that includes me too, huh?) I changed my ally membership to the platinum gold gay card that gay Jesus (Beyonce) hands you as you walk past the pearly gates while simultaneously picking up the free brunch and drink tickets. I decided to finally answer the question: "Am I Gay?"
Fuck yeah I am. I am a proud pansexual Black woman who stands on the shoulders of my queer brothers and sisters who were murdered, raped, ostracized, and abused so I could actually have a shot at this life. This pride and every pride we need to remember why this shit started in the first place: trans activists started the blueprint, periodt pooh. I cry out for my trans brothers and sisters who are attacked at astronomical rates everyday and especially those of color. Trans members still face discrimination from members of our very own community. We as a gay community are failing our sisters and brothers by allowing, accepting, and spreading transphobia in any form even at 2019 Pride. Pride means taking ownership of all the fucking blood, shit, spit, pain, fights, broken bones, and dead bodies that it took to give us the parade in the first place people. Get off your ass and start supporting trans people and especially Black trans members if you really want to be prideful of something. I take pride in knowing that my community is problematic but that there will always be people ready to change it to make it better. Because that's what gays are good at. Makeovers.
So remember this Pride season to go on gofundme and donate to trans and queer people in need, support trans workers and artists by paying them accordingly and on-time, and stop making me your GBF (gay best friend). Stand in your truth and really sink in it. You might end up finding more pressing questions to answer next.
Here are places with resources for all my gaybies out there:
Trevor Lifeline for crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth: 866-488-7386
@snap4freedom on Instagram
Follow the #girlslikeus on Instagram