October 2007 was a very strange time.
I was a senior at a Jesuit college. I drank a lot of very shitty “champagne” whose name was tied to the French and masculinity, two things I was very much not. I was heavily participating in theatre, performing in an avant grade adaptation of selected Osamu Tezuka works where I played a toxic waste ravaged evil bully bird named Gauze or Gauzu as my director Natsu would say. She called me Kyru. I was also straight.
There was a part in this production where we put on an elaborate dance involving giant origami folding, drawing, and a general collision of intersectional movements. My part in the song included doing a tango with a guy, a gay guy, who would dip me at one point in the song. “Is this okay with you, Kyru?” Natsu asked. “We can change it, if you’re uncomfortable.”
No, of course: it’s acting. Why would I have a problem with that? There was no problem with any of this, said the open minded straight young twentysomething to himself.
This dance was more than a dance. It turned into kissing and playing around in bed and eventually dating, a fit of activity in and out of drunkenness. This wasn’t my first time sleeping with or intimately participating with a man but there was something different here: there was no shame, no hiding, no attempts to rationalize to myself that being with this man was a fluke of my sexuality, a bi bump in a straight strait. These were non-moments until everything fell down a gay funnel of context, where the footing of my life shifted from heterosexual to gay.
It all made sense. I wanted to tell everyone but, alas, these were different times. Prop 8 was mounting only to fall. Brokeback Mountain was acclaimed but still the butt of jokes. Ellen’s daytime talk show had only just graduated from four years of not being The Caroline Rhea Show. There was only one gay Fitzpatrick — Sharon, my father’s sister — and she was still seen as an oddity amongst us normals. How did I fit into this?
Then my grandfather died. October 19, 2007. It was a moment for family to gather and grieve and mourn and all I fucking wanted to do was be gay and tell them how gay I was and share that I had a gay boyfriend and that I was in a gay play which was so funny because it’s so stereotypical that a gay guy would be in a gay play, right? The weekend of the funeral was a wander, textless, lost in mental moments dreaming of my boyfriend who went on to dump me three weeks later and I would cry harder because I lost him than I cried for my grandfather. I would go on to date another gay in that same play less than a week after my breakup. The universe of my sexuality spiraled in an emotional rebound that few people outside of my academic bubble knew about.
Ten years later, things changed while they haven’t. Many young twentysomethings (Or teens! Or preteens!) are met with praise for revealing a new sexual or gender identity. Many queer stories fight for the fore, to be heard as another marker of a mind shift. Many brands and media outlets will hoist the importance of a day like National Coming Out Day in the hopes that you will give them lavender dollars despite working against queer rights or having no diversity represented in their own ranks. Many, like myself, don’t even need to come out to anyone or to reveal themselves as gay: they just are and people accept it.
October 2017 is a strange time too, arguably the strangest. Fires rip through California, the politics of kneeling has needlessly consumed some. Hurricanes rolled over a homeland I’ve yet to set foot in as a movie producer is finally being taken to task for his mistreatment of women. Guns have had a new, sordid heyday as we all fight about everything for everyone in everything, from Charlottesville to DC. We’re all exhausted.
But some things got better. Things got gayer: the world got gayer, America got gayer, you got gayer, I got gayer. As things get different for the worse, they get different for the better. It’s days like today that remind you of that, that the depression comes with the mania, the madness, of love and life.