“Hey, are you busy ? Is there anyone around in your apartment ?” My father must have been able to tell that I had him on speaker phone.
“Nope, it’s just me,” I replied.
“Okay, can I ask you a question?”
I wasn’t sure what he was going to ask about. Probably something about school or maybe my plans for the summer. My father was always, always worried about the future. Or maybe it was about the trip we were going on that weekend to visit my grandparents in New England. I was bringing along a friend this time, and my grandparents were pretty deep in their religious faith. Maybe he didn’t want my friend to hear. Did he have some news?
“Okay…Are you gay?” It was the last question I had expected to hear from his mouth.
“Am I what?” I asked, startled by the question that came with out any forewarning. Maybe I misheard?
“Are you gay?” he repeated.
“NO I’M NOT GAY!” I shouted quickly into the phone, surprised by not only his questions but how defensive I got. “What the-?”
Immediately, my mind raced back to all the lesbian-ish things I had done in my life. I remembered the time my dad found a picture of me pretending to kiss a girl in high school and how disturbed he was (Those kissy pictures were cool back then). I thought back to the times when I had really kissed girls. But was I “gay” in actuality? No! I wasn’t gay. But now my dad apparently believed so.
“Now, hold on, hold on!” he said, interrupting what would have unintentionally been a string of cuss words that I learned to use so elegantly in college. “I was just wondering!”
Wondering? Had I really given off that gay vibe?
“Well, where in the world did you get that from?”
“A friend of mine apparently saw on one of your social websites, Twitter or Facebook, that you were in a relationship with a girl. Are you?” he asked again. I felt a sigh a relief. My best friend and I had put that silly status up months before as a joke. I tried to explain this to my father.
“Noooo, Dad! That was just a joke. She’s my best friend. We did it as a joke,” I said, attempting to explain to my father how “In a Relationship” with your best friend on Facebook was humorous. He didn’t laugh. “I’m not gay, I’m serious!”
“Well, okay. Well, that’s good. I mean, if you were gay, that’d be fine too!”
“Dad, I’m not gay…”
“I was just thinking about this all week. And then you invited your girl friend on our trip to New England, and I thought that was your girlfriend. And then, I was going to ask you about it this weekend, but I didn’t want to ask it in front of Grandma and Grandpa, and it’s just…”
“Dad!” I laughed. “I’m really not gay!”
“Okay, are you sure? Because you know, I don’t care about that! I’d accept you either way. I was just wondering how you would have kids, would you adopt or…”
“DAD! I am NOT gay!” He had clearly been thinking about this for awhile, and it was so embedded in his head that he refused to believe that I was actually straight. “You will have grandchildren, okay? Lots!”
“Okay, phew! Good. But wait, not too soon right? Wait a little while!” he joked.
“Yes, Dad,” I giggled.
“Okay, that’s all I wanted to ask you!”
“Okay, Dad. I’ll talk to you later.” We exchanged our goodbyes with awkward laughs and I hung up the phone and realized how much I loved my dad.
After the conversation with my dad, I will admit I had to reflect on my past few crazy years in college. He had been so convinced that I was gay during that conversation that it actually scared me, setting me back into a self-conscience and confused reflection. I had experienced a plethora of things in that five minute conversation with my father that made me really sit back and not only take a look at myself, but at the queerness of it all.
- Coming Out? Although, I did not come out in this equation, because I am indeed a straight heterosexual female (who admittedly happens to appreciate other females), I felt as if I almost had, or as if I easily could have came out to my father; A privilege that I realize many homosexuals, attempting or wanting to come out to their parents, do not have. (Actually, a privilege that many heterosexuals with their regular, straight issues don’t even have lol). Taking this Queer Race (ENGL459Q) class had almost made me want to call my father back and say “Yes, I am gay!” just to see if his accepting reaction would still be the same. Would he suddenly be caught by surprise? Had he wholeheartedly thought I was gay, or maybe just a smidgen? I wondered. But the fact that he had wasted no to little time waiting on his daughter to come out to him made me feel proud.
- Double Standard. It’s obvious. As a woman, I feel as though we are allowed to be as sexual and as sexually open as we want and it’s often considered erotic or in plain terms “hot”. I can kiss girls on a drunken night or dance a little too close. I can take kissy pictures with friends and I’m still a heterosexual. (To some, apparently not my dad lol). But see a man kissing another man after a few too many beers, man taking a kissy photo with another man, or dancing a little too close to a man. That’s “homo” and it’s only right to call it “homo”. Why is that?
The tantalizing looks that two women being sexual with each other receive will be undoubtedly different than two men doing the same. I feel as though it’s unfortunately a double standard I even hold myself to. I can act “gay” and do things that are “gay”, but not be gay. A man who experimented in college with men, but is now married to a woman with children (WITHOUT any Christian intervention, but as a personal choice) would be looked at completely different than a woman who experimented in college and was not turned heterosexual.
I’m not a particular fan of double standards or anything unfair for that matter lol. Therefore I tried to think outside society’s box. If a person’s sexuality was based not just on their apparent present actions and sexual preferences, but on their past sexual preferences, are they gay? I, for a moment, subjected myself to the man’s side of the double standard and was displeased, as I questioned myself and feared that perhaps, acting out on my urges, whether sober or drunken, may have given people the wrong idea about my sexuality.
And then I thought again about how little I regretted about my past (It’s not as scandalous as I’m making it sound) and how momentarily ashamed I was to be so defensive about being questioned about my sexuality. Why couldn’t I have just answered with a simple “no” without all the defensive dramatics? There’s nothing wrong with being gay.
Kissing girls or not, it was obvious that it what I wanted to do at the time. I know that generally speaking, I am not gay. Although I find women physically attractive, I am secure in my heterosexuality to know that I am physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, etc., etc., and all of the above ways, attracted to men. However, society, as we allow it, infamous for unfairly creating and placing labels on people, could generally convince others of different. I find it incredibly funny how it’s essential for society to make and enforce these labels, and how uncomfortable these labels can sometimes make us because what other people relate to them, and we are unfortunately a product of it all.
One thing that I learned from this whole, now very humorous situation, is that it’s SO IMPORTANT for people to define themselves by their own terms, not others, and not societies. The Census gives you Black, White, and Hispanic. What if you want to check all three? What if you don’t fit in the box? What happens then? You define you. And when you define you and become comfortable with your own label without having to check in with society, that’s when you become comfortable with yourself!
– Brittany Britto