What does gay look like?

The rainbow flag, sometimes called 'the freedo...

The rainbow flag, sometimes called ‘the freedom flag’, has been used as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride since the 1970s. The different colors symbolize diversity in the gay community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride in gay rights marches. It originated in the United States, but is now used around the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Something historical happened today: The US has its first active openly gay athlete in professional sports (story via Rod2.0), with Jason Collins being the proverbial trailblazer–he’s actually a Wizard (pun intended).


What I find particularly interesting is his coming out statement: “I’m a 34 year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” He identifies himself by job (and it’s a really good one), ethnicity, and then orientation. That I think says a lot about the gay community and how it struggles to really deal with those of us who are multiple minorities.


It is no secret that most of the English-language developed world has a White middle-class majority. To its credit, it’s also good that the English-language developed world is also trying to correct it and get towards a post-racial state of affairs.


In my experience, I have occasionally wondered whether I’m really included or not, particularly in the gay community because I don’t fit the perception in the media sense of being gay.

What’s that perception?


Well, when you turn on the news or read a newspaper and see something representing the “gay community” it is most often a white gay male in his late 30s to 40s.

Now, while it is great to have any representation, but I think it’s time that we start thinking about the effects of having the rainbow community represented in a largely monotone shade.


Here in Australia, we are fortunate to have Senator Penny Wong,  who is Asian, as one of the most prominent openly gay people in the media, because she causes people to think twice about that old ridiculous chestnut that “I can’t be gay because I am XYZ ethnicity.”


In the US, we’ve had ever increasing minority males and females come out, and yet there is still this perception that ethnicity trumps sexuality. We need more people to come out as being proud of both their ethnic background and their sexual orientation.


This where being a role model does matter, because being a role model, allows you to start changing minds on a larger scale.


While I wish that I had grown up seeing successful black gay men in media, I am glad that generations after me will be able to.





My Coming Out Story

Today, 11 October is National Coming Out Day. It started in That Place via HRC, and while I have my own opinions about HRC, this is one of the things they got right.

I came out in a relatively subtle and gradual way. Like many people, I realised that I was gay early on (around age 8), but I didn’t have the words for it until I was a teenager. My parents, being somewhat bohemian, had a copy of Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex in our library. I read the chapter on homosexuality and it was like a lightbulb went off. I eagerly told my mother, and she doubted my revelation. When I pressed her on it (I was that kind of kid), she said that she didn’t want me to face a world of further discrimination beyond any racial discrimination.

Nonetheless, I had found my identity and my parents, who always were proud that they raised me to be an independent thinker, accepted it.

I do hope to be a parent someday, and I hope that I would be able to create that environment of honest discourse between myself and my child. I truly believe it saved me from any heartache about my sexuality.

The message of “It Gets Better,” is so true.