words are all i have

Why are so many gay men still afraid of society?

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Many of the gay men I know tell me gay clubs are essential.

The gay clubs, I’m advised, are a necessity as safe spaces where the boys can hang out (figuratively) and be themselves, safe from the prying and condemning eyes of straight men with red necks. In a gay bar, the boys can talk their own language, tell their own crude and lewd jokes, hit on other men, be physically affectionate with one another.

They don’t feel society has granted them the entitlement to act this way in a mainstream venue, where such behaviour might serve as an invitation for straight men with red necks to have sport with them by inflicting verbal and/or physical harm on a few “fags.”

I understand the socializing element of the gay club. I don’t subscribe to the fear factor, though.

So here’s my question: If you’re an out-of-the-closet gay man and you believe you require the sanctuary of a basement bar to be your true self, are you really out of the closet?

I have been hanging my bonnet in Victoria for 15 years, less one month. In that time, I have seen the grand total of two gay male couples strolling hand-in-hand along the downtown streets. Two.

Meanwhile, scarcely a day goes by when I do not see lesbians clinging to one another in public. It is as common a sighting as the first robins of springtime. Transgender females are also evident, because they have no choice but to be “out there.” Real life experience is a requirement in the process leading toward gender reassignment surgery. There is no allowance for avoidance. It is not a part-time gig.

And don’t run off with the misguided notion that transgender females are not at risk. They are at greater risk than gay men or women. The Trans Violence Tracking Portal tells us from January to April this year, 102 transgender people in 12 countries were killed. Considering that transgenders represent approximately 0.00000001 per cent of the population of those 12 countries, that’s an alarming statistic. And why were they killed? Because…they…were…transgender.

I have written that it takes considerable courage and strength for a gay person to arrive at true self and present that true self to the world. What, then, are we to make of the supposedly “out” gay men who keep a significant portion of themselves closeted?

My dearest male friends are gay. Two of them are married. They are not closeted. When we socialize, we meet in mainstream venues. I have seen them dance together. I have seen them kiss. If there exists a fear factor, surely it is lower than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s approval rating.

We—two gay men and a transgender girl—meet at mainstream venues because we are completely comfortable there.

There are, of course, occasions whereby they attend the local gay bar to “see the boys and spend time with the boys.” It’s that birds-of-a-feather socializing thing. They’re part of the LGBT collective. They value it. They support it.

The point is, they are not awaiting an invitation from mainstream society to come out and play. They’re already “out there.” Fully. Unfortunately, many gay men are still waiting for their invitation to become part of society.

So ask yourself this, boys: Are you really out of the closet?

It’s time more gay men started acting like my friends. Stop hiding behind the mistaken belief that the world is only unsafe for you. If my friends can come out and play, if lesbian and transgender women can come out and play, you can, too.

You’re the ones with the balls. Use them. Otherwise the parade to acceptance will leave you far behind.

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