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Op-Ed: The More We Let Gaybaiters Slide, The More They’ll Take

Gay baiting collage

Insurance. Car payments. Food and rent.

Most relationships, no matter how close or intimate, are ultimately quantifiable.

In the summer of 2011, I sat at my kitchen table. On my right was a budget of expenses and how I would pay them. On my left was my cellphone. In a few minutes, I was about to call my father and come out as a gay man.

The expenses column stretched down the length of my notebook. I was at a public college on a full scholarship and a full federal grant. Still, my car was in my father’s name. My father controlled my health insurance. My father sent money to help with rent. The dollars trickled down the notebook’s page, and I prepared to gamble all that against a single phone call—against 22 years of a man who loved me and raised me.

I dialed the number. I spoke the words. And the gamble paid off. He still loved me. He accepted me—not everything. Not all at once. But enough to say he would never abandon me.

I tore out the budget and threw the page—the harsh, fearful numbers in red and black ink—into the trash.

Most relationships are quantifiable. Open and out LGBTs know that lesson all too well. Now, it’s time to start teaching our allies—our straight or heteronormative celebrities—that same lesson.

I started thinking about my “dad budget” when I heard the news that Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey jokingly came out on Snapchat. I appreciate that Posey apologized, and I got the joke. And he has shown himself a great ally, especially when his former co-stars Charlie Carver and Colton Haynes came out.

But I can’t shake the disconnect between the gut-wrenching fear I faced years ago—when I risked losing my father and losing my opportunity to finish college—with an MTV darling hanging out in the Village and making a joke.

Maybe he’s just the last straw in a year full of missteps from straight allies who try to sound like they understand our out lives—all for the dollar signs and column inches. How about when Olly Murs said he was “20 percent” gay when he broke up with his girlfriend? How about when Nick Jonas said he basically had gay sex when he filmed a sex scene for Kingdom?

These straight young men tap into our world—they gut our coming-out narratives—and we reward them constantly for their bravery with our attention and our dollars.

If my father hadn’t accepted me—if I had lost that support—I had resolved to finish college no matter what. I was figuring out how to bus to campus—or flat out walk the 6 miles every day to get to class. I was considering splitting my anti-anxiety meds in half and selling them at exam time. I was wondering if I would be willing to have sex with an old retiree I had met in exchange for paying for an honors class.

I thankfully missed all that, but make no mistake—I was determined to do what had to be done. All in the name of living my authentic life.

Every time an LGBT person comes out, they face those odds. Whenever someone denigrates that coming out, they denigrate everything that holds this community together—the solidarity, the communion against a world still willing to toss us aside.

Tyler Posey made a joke because he was on Gay Street. Nick Jonas kissed a man in a TV series—so that means he’s had “gay sex.”

Most relationships are quantifiable. The relationship between LGBTs and male gaybaiters continues to be one of take rather than give, of minuses in our column and pluses in theirs. Time to turn the tables. If you want my attention and my money, you better show the same commitment and same sacrifice that I and so, so many others in my community are willing to make every single day. Or else pack it up and see who else is buying.

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