Pronouncing My Pronouns
During an oral exercise in my Spanish class, our teacher asked us each to complete a sentence with one of our new vocabulary words. I declared to her and my fellow students, “Mi pareja ideal es creativo.” There’s no way around the masculine “o” tacked to the Spanish word for “creative,” which describes my ideal life partner. I grinned a little, knowing that I had recently begun dating the creative “him” to whom I was referring. After years of censoring myself, I relished the chance to say it out loud.
I believe in the right to be normal without lying. As a man who is gay and Christian, I am a minority within my immediate and broader communities. Unlike racial minorities, I can conceal my point of distinction. I can raise or lower the volume fader on what makes me different. In terms of decibel levels, whispering has proven to be safe and convenient. However, hiding hurts and leads to dishonesty. Neither is blaring my sexuality a good idea. Like Goldilocks, I try for “just right.”
“Just right” means using the appropriate pronouns and providing clarification when needed. Although gender specifics usually surface casually, sexuality pertains to one’s essence. Therefore, I reserve theological debate, as it relates to my nature, for confidants and mentors. I welcome these pastors, doctors and drag queens to disagree with my ideology, yet we all agree on the sanctity of unconditional love.
Many of us specifically hope for romantic love. I know this first hand, having sung at 50 or so weddings. I now cue friendly females of my status at the first natural opportunity. In the past I would step out, wedding ring-less and winsome, wearing an invisible badge that read, “eligible bachelor, accepting wife applications.” Often, my friendships with women became fraught with confusion. After some years, tears and a stalker situation, I learned to abide by a policy of measured clarity and healthy boundaries.
Candor helps me understand and be understood. Although each “reveal” poses the risk of rejection, once it’s over, it’s done. Recently, I came out to some close work friends: a married couple whom both coach basketball and do social work. My chance came as I intended to bring “Creativo” to our annual Halloween Haunt theme park trip. That night, after hours of horror and hilarity, it occurred to me that this Haunt felt no different from the last. My friends loved my date and we have grown closer through the experience of sharing.
I believe that everyone deserves to live authentically in the public eye. As more men and women show their true colors, the culture of fear evaporates. For me, stifling restraint has given way to a refreshing air of liberty, which feels “just right.”