I often think being gay is the most important part of my identity.
I realize that this goes against just about every argument that queer people are not defined by their sexual or gender identity, and that there are countless other things that define them and make them who they are. And yes, there is more to me than my sexuality. I am a student, I am a daughter, I am a friend. I’m a writer, I’m a stand-up comedian, I’m an avid reader. I’d like to think that I’m kind, and creative, and a good listener. I love dogs and documentaries and ripped jeans and boy bands. These are all parts of who I am.
But when I think of my identity, admittedly, the first thing I think is “I am a lesbian.” Just about everything else come after that. Because being gay has essentially changed how I view things. So much so that I cannot imagine who I would be if I was not gay. I can try. I imagine that maybe I would be a bit crueler, just because I would be more unaware of other’s people struggles. I would judge more harshly, because I had not been judged. Maybe I wouldn’t wear as many flannel shirts. Maybe I wouldn’t own the same books. Maybe I wouldn’t have the same friends. I certainly wouldn’t spend my Saturday nights making the same jokes in my stand-up comedy routines. It’s honestly hard to say who I would be if I was straight, because I can not imagine a world where I am me and not gay.
This is important because I think that sometimes, when people say that sexuality is not the only thing about a person, they might be dipping into saying that sexuality is essentially an unimportant part of a person. They may believe that sexuality merely exists, like a person’s eye color, and does not further change how a person thinks and feels. But sexuality is like race, gender, religion, class or physical ability in that it essentially changes your relationship with the world, especially when one of those identities falls outside of what is considered “normal.”
I have seen that firsthand in the past year since I have come out and explored the world as a gay woman for the first time. I have lived and learned; I have had lunch and late-night discussions with other lesbians and I have learned; I have started my first queer relationship and I have learned even more. It seems being queer is all about learning constantly in a world that is often confusing and horribly unfair.
And I have learned while writing this column. I have examined things and pulled them apart and examined them in ways I have always wanted to do. Hopefully along the way someone else has listened and has also learned with me.
I think by now you can understand that being gay is important, to say the least. It is hard and complicated but important. So going forward, do not erase us. Do not push who we are to the side. Because we are not a special interest topic that can be addressed at a later time. We are not an acronym that people find annoying to both say and address, a buzzword for straight public figures to throw around to gain support from other straight people. We are not just letters in an acronym or a box to check off on the list of diversity issues.
We are human. We may have many things that make us human, but who we love and who we are matters. Sometimes, it may just matter the most to us.