I preach equality. I fight the patriarchy. I’m all for female empowerment. I campaign for gay rights. I love women. But see, therein lies the problem. I do all this impressive talking and writing and campaigning and even living, but I don’t quite admit to some of it. See when I say, “I love women,” I don’t just mean that in the #nohomo sense of the word. In fact, I mean it in all senses of the word. I openly love women as my friends and family, but I secretly love them as my girlfriends. Nope, that’s not right either. I never call them girlfriends; they’re just…fun. But what good am I doing when I say things like that? Who am I helping when I date boys and hook up with women on the side? Sure, I genuinely care about both of them, but it’s time to stop lying. It’s time to start admitting that doing both is the equivalent of cheating on both—and as such, it harms everyone involved.
Up until a few months ago, I probably would’ve said that it just harms them. After all, if I’m doing the cheating, I shouldn’t get hurt, right? Wrong. Apparently falling for someone in the context of an emotionally dishonest relationship hurts. It seems that emotions cannot be permanently buried and swept away into the perpetually shut closet. I might have called her a hook up, a friend with benefits, but after a little while, part of me started to care. And from that point on, a lot of me started to care. And suddenly, before I knew it, I had fallen head over heels for her. But I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t tell anyone. Because no one even knew that was possible. How can I fall for a girl if I’m “straight?” How can I get hurt if it’s just “fun?”
So here I stand, honest on paper, honest in my heart, and dishonest in every other context. I lie in omission when I meet new people. I lie to my parents and many of my friends every day. I lie to the boys I date about who else I would like to date. I lie to the girls I kiss about how I identify. I lie to her, the one who changed my mind, every time I see her and pretend like I’m okay that we’re just friends. I even lie to all of you by refusing to sign my name to this piece. And that last one especially—that haunts me. I might be able to make excuses for friends and family, but why can’t I just say it? If I can write so honestly, why can’t I just grow a pair and put my name on the sheet of paper. Why am I terrified of saying that maybe, just maybe, I’m not straight. It’s not like I fulfill the norm everywhere else in my life. So why now? Why this issue? I think about how much respect I have for so many of my openly gay friends, but I just—I can’t do it. But what worries me so much about that is what it means for the titles with which I do openly identify: liberal, feminist, progressive. Can I legitimately claim any of them? If I refuse to participate in furthering the move towards equality, away from the stigmatization of the LGBTQ community, can I really say I’m liberal? If I love women and fight to advance their political causes, but cannot tell people that I’d also like to fight for one on a very individual level, can I still call myself a feminist? How can I criticize celebrities and people who say they “want equality but definitely aren’t feminists” when I myself want LGBTQ equality and participate in the culture, but cannot actually label myself as such? As much as I’d like to slap a happy ending on this and say that I’ve convinced myself of the need for honesty, I’m leaving this anonymous. I wish I had the courage to change it, but instead I’m extending the challenge to you. Be better than me: name yourself, label yourself, be proud in who you are and in what you believe.