The Eclectic Chair
I Remember.
Artwork by Maisa de la TorreI vaguely remember when a famous teacher of mine in high school told the class brazenly that there were no gays in the school’s theater group, which he ran. And I saw pride in his face. Of course, little did he know, really.

I remember how it was that people had (again) some sort of pride to say that the Honors Class, which I was a part of, shouldn’t have any gay people in it. I wonder how this sort of thinking could have repressed other people in my shoes.

I remember how some so-called friends kept on asking me if I were gay, much in the same vein as it was if they were asking me if I had leprosy. To this day, I remember the questions and the faces.

I remember how I made so many mistakes - some of which I regret to this day - simply because I was repressed, in denial, suppressed, whatever you may call it. Up to now, I know I’ve hurt many people along the way, and for that I know I will carry my mistakes with me as baggage until I die, and probably thereafter. To all those I’ve hurt, I apologize and still punish myself for all of it.

I remember how I had a crush (a serious one!) on a fellow high-schooler, only to find out years later that we both liked each other. However, by that time, we had both changed too much for it to be anything more than friendship. Still, I wonder sometimes how different things could have been if he and I felt freer to have at least tried going out with each other, even if it were in secret. But that’s in the past. I’m happy that we became friends.

I remember how I developed massive personality issues (some of which persist to this day), simply because I wanted to fit in, because I didn’t want to be singled out as the gay outcast - outcast was fine, but to also be gay? It was like a double black eye, or a kick to the face when there was already a kick to the groin - yes, that’s how the whole local atmosphere made me feel. Today, I know that part of my sometimes-crass demeanor is a result of all that.

I remember when my own father would tell me to stop acting gay, that it was an embarrassment to him, that it was not right. To his credit, when I did come out, he accepted me, even if there were reservations and requests not to act *too* gay.

So, friends, readers and other such, don’t be surprised if at times I am the stereotype of the angry gay man, or whatever people choose to call it - activist? Disturbingly openly gay?

Do you know why gay people are so good at handling tragedy, why we make it a comedic farce, why we make fun and exaggerate the melodrama of our lives and mannerisms?

It’s because if we didn’t, we’d probably kill ourselves. I’m sure many people would be happy with that. But then, why should we give them the satisfaction?

That’s the happy defiance of being gay. That’s a part of me.

To all my friends, thank you for putting up with me. To all my detractors, enemies or however you all would wish to call yourselves, I’d like to thank you, too. Because you taught me that if you’re going to be gay, you’ll have to have more than the strength of any one straight man. You have to have the strength of a gay man.

Again, thank you. And for those of you who know or care, I love you, too.