You’re Not Gay Enough

You’re Not Gay Enough Ashley Mardell

I would like to tell you two stories. Nothing horrific. Nothing gory. Both simple and small, like a sliver. But one that sends a shiver, a quiver, inducing pulses of uncomfort through my entire being, Every time I’m reminded of their existence. First, picture this: I am slouched, lounging on a couch, sitting in the living room of my freshman house, About to attend, get this, My very…. First…. Pride. I am pumped! Riding a high of excitement, cuz I have a confession, While my love for my friends knows no end, They are predominately a group of hets, with minimal flex, so they don’t always get my struggle, my desires, the feeling of otherness that smothers me in this society dominated and saturated with straightness. But at approximately one hour, forty two minutes and sixteen seconds, that is all about to change. Finally the tables will have turned, and I have yearned to be able to look left, look right, and feel some pain go, as I am bombarded by rainbow, a plethora of leather, a littering of glitter, Every which way—Gay, gay, gay, I will be amongst my people! I know that sounds goofy, I admit, it’s kinda dumb, But pride was the gay Christmas I had been looking forward to all year, And the anticipation of opening this incredibly fabulous gift, was unreal. Bzzt, I feel my phone. “Oh, Kristen and Callie will be here in a few.” “Who?” Replies Samantha. “Yeah, I don’t want to be that group of straight people who only go for something to do.” Chimes in Simon. A pink heat floods my cheeks, I don’t miss a beat. “Excuse me?” “You know, we’ll just, fit in better with them, you know?” “No.” “I mean, it would be weird to go to pride without someone actually gay.” Pause, stare. “Really?” I pretend this didn’t offend. “But, but I’m going with you. But I’ll be there. Me.” The tension on the faces of my friends loosens as they comprehend my confusion. “Pfft, you don’t count, Ashley, you’re dating Pat.” I freeze. I don’t count. I feel a crack split my heart, a major part of my identity, a massive Ashley aspect, so much of my me-ness all instantaneously rendered null and void in three short words—I. Don’t. Count. I don’t count. Apparently, my feelings toward one gender invalidates my ability to love another. Evidently, I don’t meet enough queer criteria to call myself LGBT. So it seems that being “B” is not enough, I need to earn my keep, my place. At least that’s what these straight folks say. But to be fair, it’s not just my hetero friends who have momentary lapses in judgement. A year later, I’m sitting in a bar, when a glimmering, shimmering, sequenced sleeve catches me off-guard and a hard pat lands on my back from a pristine queen with a mean hearty chortle, “Oh I hope you ladies are having fun,” she cackles, “I just love when girls like you come in and show you support.” I don’t even ask for clarification. I am hit with this sensation, a wave of rage, I am aware what her remark implies. I reply, “Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, no, I am not straight.” She is, undoubtedly, taken aback. “Oh. You look it. I would have never guessed.” “Yep, I’m gay. Super-duper gay. Gay, gay, gay.” I overcompensate, and it’s not even true. I’m certainly not straight, but if I just become a liar by avoiding a more accurate qualifier, which could have been bi, pan, fluid, in the middle of the spectrum here, queer, by your need to perpetuate in damaging stereotypes desperately needing a beer. Whether it’s from my fellow minority, or the straight majority, we need to place more of a priority on accepting orientations other than hetero and homo. This bi erasure cuts like a razor and leaves me homeless. Amongst my straight friends, gay bars, and even pride, a place where those who don’t quite fit the mainstream sexual mold go to seek refuge, I am excluded. And I’m over it. So, without a quiver, without a shiver, I stand proud removing the sliver as I deliver a message: there is no such thing as looking gay, as sounding gay, as seeming gay, my gay cannot by rated or graded. My bi does not fade when I am dating a man, and its legitimacy is not raised when I’m with Grace, my girlfriend. I am gay enough. Gay enough to attend pride, gay enough to have a girlfriend, gay enough to rock long hair, never seen an episode of The L-word, hate sports, and not know a single Teagan and Sarah song, because at the end of the day, I love women! And that’s about the gayest thing a lady can do. And I should be gay enough to feel like part of the community. So help me. By opening your mind to the possibility that I could be just like you, even though I don’t fit the stereotypes. Stop assuming that I don’t belong and start celebrating my presence free of judgement. Accept my bi, pan, non-binary identity in its entirety, and don’t let it invalidate my queerness for you. Help me, by making me feeling like I don’t need to change. Like, just the way I am, I am enough.