This past week I was revisited by the revenant of how being gay makes everything different for me. No matter how I may want to be like others, I am distinctly different and have no lasting, concrete relation to the mainstream, despite the inroads toward equality homosexuals have made in the last decade alone. Alongside my homosexuality, what also makes me queer is my education level, the sweeping knowledge I have across a range of subjects and interests. And these two facts make my perspective on things incredibly divergent, strangely freeing, but also problematic.
By virtue of being gay and well educated I do not fit in with the masses. I do not even fit in with my own kind as a gay male, as I have no pretensions and no desire to act as many of them do, whether for show or out of lack of self-love or awareness. Neither do I wish to condescend to the shallow, boring pop culture whores who live vicariously through their obsession with talentless celebrities and reality TV stars, and I have no social media or mobile tech addiction. I do not wish to share each and every trivial moment of my day with people I’ve never met or those I knew in grade school or high school who are my “friend” now just to get their numbers up, when they were never my friend then or ever said a word to me. And still don’t talk to me even now in the virtual world for that matter. The grand comedy of the human race never ceases to amaze me.
In being single and gay I only want to get married when the time comes to secure my civil rights and those of my husband as a couple, so that we could live our lives as we desire, with the respect and dignity we deserve as human beings despite the fact that we do not fit into the traditional (read, confining and patronizing) heterosexual paradigm. In being gay I do not have to abide by the unwritten but historical patriarchal law that archaically dictates to heterosexuals (via their families, their religion, the media, and the government) that they are supposed to get an education (at least the male is), get a great job (again, this is directed more toward the male), find a spouse (the onus here is primarily on the female so that she can find a good provider for her), have multiple children to bear their name and legacy, buy a couple of cars, a home in the suburbs (Snoozeville, anyone?), get a pet, and take two weeks’ vacation each year.
For me this pattern of living is strangulating, boring, and vulgar, as it kills freedom, desire, and creativity that cannot be exercised and discovered within the constraints of a heterosexually fashioned life that society burdens humans with in order to keep nothing more than a workforce of mindless consumers in existence to purchase products they don’t need to fill their empty lives and the overflowing pockets of the owners of the tools of production who live lives of luxury and power that the masses choose to remain ignorant of, and in doing so are then complicit, through their own complacency, in destroying and deadening their own lives, as well as the middle class as a whole, and increasing the immoral decadence of the less than one percent’s lust for wealth and dominance. Hence, my disgust with the masses and yet my incessant need to save them from themselves. But we all know what happened to a number of individuals who idealistically sought to redeem the people throughout the history of human civilization.
But I digress. This voice of dissent, of forcing the issue that the life that may be right for others may not be right for me or someone else is ultimately the theme of my favorite novel, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Edna defies the conventions of motherhood and marriage at the end of the nineteenth century and eventually drowns herself. She knows that a divorce would make her a disreputable woman and she does not wish to be a mother to her young sons. She wants to be free to fulfill her own needs and desires not those of others. After her awakening she no longer surrenders and conforms to society’s restrictive ideas on what a woman should do, say, think, feel, or be. She feels she has no real way out, thus she commits suicide.
I feel as Edna does. I refuse to surrender and conform to society’s views on what a male and even a gay male should be. To conform and submit to society’s prescribed perspectives on how a man or a woman should think, feel, speak, or act, which are meant only to serve society by preserving it, and not the individual whom it directly impacts, is to relinquish your natural right and freedom to do as you choose; it is to willingly chain yourself to the needs and desires of others, as well as those of abstract institutions that have no true existence but for the multitude of individuals who comprise it and sustain the illusion of that existence by participating in the group, in the beliefs and activities of the institution.
In the end it seems that many things can be learned from Edna’s story, not just about the times in which she lived, but about our own times, how we live our lives, and how we should live them. It seems, too, that the human race has forgotten that it is only through the dissenting voice, through revolution of all sorts, that change has come. And whether that change has been progressive or led to further chaos and dissolution, it is still the spirit of the voice of dissent that has initiated all transformation—a different voice that has proposed a different choice, a different way to live, a different path toward freedom and redemption.