Gays, of course, come in all sorts of flavors. I’ve been thinking about some of my more so-called effeminate brothers.
In high school, I never came out to anyone but my family and friends, those I could trust. I suppose I also came out to the gay youth group held at the Stonewall Center and there were kids from my school there, but we kept each other’s secret. Simply, I came out early, but I don’t count myself as brave. I was very cautious and was consequently never harassed in High School. I was called a couple names soon after, in college, once I stopped caring about who knew what. By then I’d built my confidence back up enough to put a quick end to the harassment.
But there were gay kids there in my High School who were out, out and flaming. They weren’t out in the sense that they told people they were gay; they didn’t need to. They were gay and also innately effeminate men, and they took no steps to hide that fact. Rather they, at some point past middle school, went with their true self, gave up trying to fit in, and chose the brunt of the bullies for it. I could naturally and, to my shame, did pass. Now, I never did anything as cliché as call them a fag, or fake a laugh when they were shoved; my distaste for such was clear. But I didn’t go out of my way to defend them (or myself) either. I kept my social currency for myself; I hid.
I wish I had a different High School story to tell, but that’s it. I hid in plane view; I passed when I could have helped. I’m not comfortable thinking on what that says about me, but it’s a sure way to motivate myself to speak up today.
Those “queens” who’d not back down do deserve respect. They went to school every day and endured taunts and physical abuse, and they kept coming when most kids would’ve crumbled. They dressed how they wanted and they openly were who they were regardless; they didn’t give in or hide. They didn’t letter in any sport, win any elections, go to any dances, or use "girlfriends" as cover. In fact, as the months went on they became more and more defiant in the face of social pressure, while I publically played the part until college.
I find it funny such men are sometimes called pansies, an ironically hearty flower. They had more courage than anyone in my High School, any jock running down the field, any cheerleader at her tryouts, any academic taking on another AP course. Anyone. Though I’ve a nature the majority can swallow a bit better, there came a day when I’d learn to hate passing, and I’m very glad to now be in the camp of the "queens" of this world. I suppose in my experience many of those kids grew up to become my bad cop counterparts in the gay community, but I respect them nonetheless, even when we fight over how to approach a problem. After all, "pansies" really know how to stand their ground, and more firmly than the average man of any sort.