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Gay Geeks, Assemble! Why Coming Out Geek Matters in the LGBT Community

Gay geeks
Flood G./Flickr

As sci-fi, comic books, and other genres become more popular, queer people can show they have more interests than fashion and celebrities.

Geek culture has gone mainstream, and as a geek myself, I couldn't be happier. Marvel and DC have turned my favorite comic-book heroes into blockbuster movies and television. Hollywood has brought Star Trek, Star Wars, and other beloved sci-fi franchises to a new generation hungry for the same exciting storytelling I grew up with. Geeks are finally being allowed to live out loud and proud.

What's even more exciting is watching the same acceptance for geek culture in the LGBT community. Comic-Con and SXSW now regularly hold LGBT-themed panels, and gay geeks have organized their own conventions like Flame Con and Gaymer X. Drag queens like Kim Chi and Trixie Mattel have both stomped runways in gag-worthy geek-inspired couture. You can even look for other "geeks" on dating apps like Grindr.

However, this is just the tipping point. Coming out geek in the gay community still feels very isolating. Several gay men, like me, come out only to leave their geek side stuck in the closet.

Living as an out gay man and a closeted geek was a confusing, difficult battle. In college, I declared to my family and friends that I was gay--admittedly from the safety of my dorm room. Even as an out gay man, I still didn't feel brave enough to hang my She-Hulk poster or talk about my love of Star Trek's Captain Kathryn Janeway. I had to wait until my 20s before I could allow myself to read comic books in public, or wear a Green Lantern costume to a convention, or even stand in line for a Harry Potter midnight movie release.

The stigma of being gay was so familiar that I didn't realize I was still hiding part of myself. I would stay quiet if someone made fun of nerds or there was a geeky topic up for debate. Even from partners, I would hide my Avengers comic books under the bed like some tawdry secret. I don't miss any of my partners who looked down on my geeky ways, but when I wasn't comfortable sharing, I internalized that criticism and assumed that's why they left me.

The lesson I learned with my sexuality was to be proud of all of my identity, and geekiness is a big part of it. When I embraced my geeky side, I was able to appreciate it in others. Before, internalized geeky self-loathing might make me cringe at a passionate debate about whether Superman or Batman would win in a fight. Now I freely engage in such debates and correct both sides with the right answer--Wonder Woman. Obviously.

I didn't start my authentic life as a gay man until I embraced my geekiness. There are still so many gay geeks out there, waiting for a flare into the sky or a beacon of light--a call hoping for a response. Gay geeks have always been here. Now we're seeing them more. We as a community need to celebrate all our identities and make everyone feel welcome.

Adam Guerino is a writer, producer and comedian based in Chicago. He is the creator of Outloud Chicago and produces and hosts the geeky event series All Geeks and Queer Comedy at Zanies. For more information, visit his website or follow him on Twitter or Instagram @adamguerino.

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