With all the topics on character building lately and how to write male/female characters (And the thread about MCs suddenly becoming bi/gay) I think this might be insightful for those who don't have a lot of experience or understanding of being homosexual. --- A few years ago, I was asked to speak in front of high school students and talk about being a homosexual. I declined, saying I had nothing to say. It was true back then but now I'm seeing that perhaps I do have something to say and perhaps it may be useful to some. Homosexuality means: to enjoy the intimacy of the same gender. However, quite unfortunately, being gay is not so simple or literal as a definition and this sexuality touches a large aspect of human life. The sad thing is, being gay means nothing when it comes to how you act or think, how you dress or what you like, your intellect or your beliefs. When you are young, discovering your first feelings of love and sexual interest, it can be quite confusing when you realize you are the only one who's not talking about girls and you notice that there is discrimination toward people attracted to the same gender. You're young, impressionable, and, odds are, you have very little gay adults to influence you. Most will grow up in a hetero-normative home, have heterosexual friends, watch TV and read books with heterosexual characters, and generally never see much of homosexuality. Yes, gay role models do exist but they are a far cry in both numbers and mainstream presence and are even harder for younger audiences to find. The internet makes it easier but the digital world isn't the real world, unfortunately. Discrimination, bullying, the fear of rejection become a normal part of young life and it will become a dominating thought for many teenagers. I was lucky, I went to school that had little tolerance for such things and the students, my friends, were of a like mind when it came to such matters. Many, if not most, are not as fortunate. "As long as they keep it to themselves, they won't have any problems." This is something all gays hear in one form or another. Keep quiet, don't raise a fuss, and you won't feel so bad. And it's true, you will not feel bad: you will feel worse. I said being gay is about having sex with the same gender and that is true but it also entails that you will love another man or woman. Gay sex may be the only real difference between straight and gay but both sexuality are capable of intense love and this is why being gay is so difficult when you are young and just learning about yourself, about being confident, and finding your place in the world. "Why do gays insist on making a spectacle of coming out? There is no closet, we know they're out there." Good, it is good that you know gays exist. But coming out is not about the confetti or the fanfare or to be different. It is a huge integral part of our society because it is not fully accepted to be gay and will remain so as long as there is any discrimination against homosexuals. How many of you, young or old, talk about sex? About what you like in a person? About your relationship triumphs and woes? Most of you will answer yes, you do discuss relationships with others as normal discourse. How many of you have or had relationships you were or are not allowed to talk about? Not because you are gay but because your loved one is someone your family, friends, or community would disapprove of? Perhaps you are dating your best friends brother and you know you are not supposed to? Maybe you got back together with someone who once abused you but now changed his ways and only you see it? Perhaps they're a criminal or perhaps your parents would disapprove because they are not the "correct" ethnicity? Those people, those who love even when they are not supposed to, they are the few who can fully understand what being a homosexual is. The ability to talk openly and freely between friends about your likes and dislikes, to present your lover to your parents and hear them delighted, to hold hands in public without thinking twice whether its safe or whether you're being watched. This is why young men and women come out to their parents and friends everyday. Not because "it's a big deal" but because they are admitting to themselves that they love someone of the same gender and they refuse to hide that fact. Love is too important in a human life to have to shut it away and only let it out when it's "safe". "Oh, look I got engaged!" exclaims Judy. "That's great!" Mary congratulates Judy. "At the wedding, I can introduce you to some people I know. Maybe you'll meet someone?" "Oh, sure I guess." Mary grimaces. "I haven't seen you with anyone in so long. I'm sure you'll find someone," said Judy. What Mary doesn't tell Judy is that she has been for the last year in a happy relationship with another woman named Anna. It's just easier to pretend you haven't found "the one" or that all the guys you meet are "immature" or just "Not good looking enough" than tell the truth and risk losing Judy's friendship or even risk being suddenly treated differently. Mary had to hide that part of her for the last year because saying the truth was too difficult and she knew there would be repercussions. This is what it means to be gay. It means to dance around your words when you're trying to hide your romantic relationships. It means to make sure its safe to be together and lie to your friends and family. It means to have a part of you life, a very integral part, that is not open to even your own parents. Why? Because as long as you keep quiet, there won't be any problems. But there will be. That need to be yourself, to fully be able to communicate, will gnaw at you and can even destroy very good relationships because the other does not want to hide. This is what it means to be gay. It means to hide and lie or admit everything and develop a thick skin. This is why men and women, young or old, come out of the closet. They make a choice on how they want to live; openly or with a filter. "Gay bars are disgusting. Men go there and have sex in the open like animals." One of the most offensive sentences I have ever heard when it comes to sexuality. The gay bar is just like any bar. Men and women go in, order one too many shots, ride the bull and fall on their ass, and wonder how they got home safely the next morning when they're late for work. The gay bar is one of the few options gay people have to socialize with other homosexuals in an open and safe setting. Most young adults will go to one in the first years they are legally allowed to, or before if they got a fake ID, and it isn't about the sex or the booze. Well, maybe a little. But for once in their lives, they are allowed to feel normal. They can sit down, order a drink, wonder whether they have a shot at getting the bartenders number, and smile at the cute guy across the room, and if they're lucky they'll get a smile back. For once, they do not have to hide or explain or even think about it all. Everyone in that room is the same and, for once, they can realize and feel that they are perfectly normal. As we grow up, straight or gay, we become confident and our skin grew much thicker than it had been just a few mere years ago. If someone hates us for no good reason, we can shrug it off and move on with our lives because we found jobs, we found our passions, we found lovers and friends, and, most importantly, we found ourselves. Yes, there is still hardships for adults but it becomes more bearable and easier to deal with when you fully realize you are not alone; that being gay isn't such a big deal, and there are great and amazing people out there who are and can be role models. If only you had known about them before, perhaps high school wouldn't have been so rough. A gay man or woman will always want people to treat them just like they would any other person. However, the biggest discriminator against you is yourself. Not only will it become for a time to censor yourself you may also feel uncomfortable to initiate or carry on conversations that deal with relationships because it means openly discussing your sexuality as if there isn't anything different. And that's a terrible mindset, to have to think ahead of what you're about to say, because your friends or family don't want to hear about the real you. Easier to talk about them, isn't it? This is why the LGTBQ and whatever other labels fall under the queer umbrella accept and defend all people from transgender to cisgender and even, ironically, asexuals. It's not about being gay. It's about not having to check yourself or your surroundings when you talk about love. It's the only real "gay agenda" . We don't want to turn you gay, we just want to create a world where saying "Hey, I'm gay." will be met with "And I like orange juice in my corn flakes. So what?". We want to abolish coming out because it is the proof that discrimination and fear still exist. If there was a pill to make me straight, I would not take it. It would be easier to be straight, I wouldn't have had to figure so much out about myself at such a young age, I wouldn't have had to deal with the uncertainty and the feeling of being alone. I could have biological children, I wouldn't have to worry about my legal and medical rights when it comes to my partner. Maybe I would have had more friends, maybe I would have been allowed to enjoy "gay" things without fear because I could just point to my super hot girlfriend. Being gay is who I am and it ultimately shaped my formative years and many of my experiences in life. To remove that, would be removing so much of me that I would be unrecognizable even to myself. It would be easier to be straight but I'd argue sometimes the easy way is simply running away from your problems and challenges. I'm no quitter. I'll be gay for the rest of my life and I'll be stronger for it. If any of my adopted children end up being gay, I can only hope they won't ever feel they need to come out of the closet. --- I hope everyone understands these are my opinions and experiences. It is not for debate but I am willing to discuss and share as this is meant to help you understand what being homosexual means and not whether it is right or wrong.