Sunday, July 7, 2013

Er... By the Way...

I was twenty-four when I first found out that some people assumed I was gay. I was shocked--not primarily by their misconception, but by their ludicrous reasons: I wore rings, I listened to classical music and I liked flowers.

Fifteen years later, when I began advocating for gay rights, I wanted to identify as straight because I saw the impression it made. Most people expected a straight guy not to know or care about gay rights. In defying that expectation I hoped to make people reframe their view: to see, through my eyes, that my passion should not be remarked upon, let alone rare.

The problem was one of perceived practicality. If people had assumed I was gay for reasons unrelated to sex, how wildly would they misconstrue my advocating for gay rights? And if I attempted to correct them, how quickly would the words "Methinks thou dost protest too much" spring to their minds? I felt that to tell people I was straight would be wasted effort at best, and counterproductive at worst. So for the most part I didn't bother.

And then the other day something embarrasing happened that made me rethink my assumptions. I was telling a co-worker about Chris Kluwe's new book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies. He didn't know who Chris Kluwe was, so I told him Kluwe is a famous athlete who had recently come out as gay. But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I had a feeling that I'd just spread a particular kind of misinformation that I, of all people, had no business spreading.

Sure enough, when I Googled Chris Kluwe, I found that he's a straight athlete who's recently become famous in the gay activist community for his outspoken defense* of gay athletes. Boy, was I embarrassed. I set the record straight (ha) with my co-worker, and decided that I'd been silly in erring on the side of not bothering to let people know I'm straight. After all, if I of all people can mistakenly remember someone as gay just because they're outspoken about gay rights, I shouldn't fault others for making the same mistake, nor should I assume they're any less accepting of correction than I.

So. Ahem.

Chris Kluwe is straight. And so am I.

*If you haven't read his hilarious and incisive "lustful cockmonster" letter, then do so now. Trust me, it's worth reading.

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