When I was first thinking of coming out of the closet, I expected a lot of different responses from my friends and family. While I hoped for positive reactions, I definitely expected negative ones. Yet I never expected the most common response to be “that’s so cool.” I had never thought of being gay as something cool, something that people admired. Granted, I was a giant dork in high school, so I never thought anything I did was particularly cool, and I had always envisioned coming out to be like a “very special episode” of some 90s TV show. When people started telling me that it was awesome that I was out and that they were proud of me, I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t just okay to be openly gay. It was actually pretty cool.
But what’s so cool about being openly queer? Aren’t we just like everyone else? Hasn’t that been our message all these years? Well, yes and no. The fact of the matter is that it takes a lot to be open about your sexuality and gender identity, especially if you identify as queer. It takes a lot of introspection, a lot of confidence, a ton of courage and, most importantly, it means that you haven’t just blindly gone along with the way the world is set up. Let’s face it, we live in a straight world. Our institutions, our customs and our laws, while slowly evolving, are catered to straight people. This means that members of the LGBTQ community have to break the rules a bit, think outside the box. And who can deny that those are some cool qualities. We’re just like Indiana Jones, sort of. Yet I’m not implying that straight people lack these qualities (Indiana Jones was straight, right?), it’s just more of a necessity in the queer community.
So why exactly is queerness becoming progressively cooler? The answer is visibility. Celebrities like Ellen Degeneres, NPH (Neil Patrick Harris, duh) and, of course, the beloved Lady Gaga, among many many others, are proving that queer people are funny, talented and down-to-earth (except for you, Gaga). Even my grandma has to admit that Ellen is awesome and that she and Portia are adorable. The more people come out, not just in show business, but everywhere, the more it becomes clear that being queer is normal, and actually kind of awesome.
And while the growing popularity of being queer is definitely positive, it has its drawbacks as well. Ever heard of fauxmosexuality? How about celesbianism? Think Katy Perry circa her “I Kissed a Girl” fame. I’m all for kissing girls and liking it (not so much for cherry ChapStick though), but when girls do it just for media attention and record sales (aka “gay for pay”), it can be annoying. The same goes for those girls at certain social functions that make out just to get the boys’ attention. The awesomeness behind being queer is not in the actual queerness; it’s in the honesty that you need to express in order to be out. Therefore, fauxmosexuality, just like everything else with “faux” as a prefix (faux-hawks, faux fur, etc), is decidedly uncool.
So you’re probably wondering what the moral of the story is. Why have I been rambling on for 600 words and throwing pop culture references at you? (Don’t lie, you loved it). Well, here it is, kids. Being queer is undeniably cool because being yourself is undeniably cool. So come out and stay out. Be honest, be brave and don’t ever apologize for who you are. You might hit a few bumps in the road along the way, but in the end, you’ll be respected for your awesomeness. And, most importantly, you’ll be making the world a little more queer-friendly by making yourself visible.