I came out to my dad at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
After realizing I was gay on an acid trip
Last winter, I realized that I was gay. More specifically, I came to the conclusion that I was interested in all genders, after 19 years of vehemently believing I was as straight as they came.
So, how did I realize this, you may ask? Well, the same way every other queer person does: I took acid for the first time.
In a night that would arguably lead my mother to roll over in her grave, I slipped a strip of LSD coated paper onto my tongue and, while under the watchful eye of my sober best friend, experienced the kind of catharsis I’d never had while sober.
Within the span of five hours, I came to a conclusion many queer people have come to in their lives: that I had been lying to myself for years to protect myself from the shame and guilt our society tends to associate with gay culture. I loved girls, I loved boys, I loved non-binary folk. I loved the world and everyone in it, no matter their identity. I was queer, possibly bisexual, and finally free of the sort of sadness that had always surrounded my sexuality.
I think it took me so long to realize and accept my queerness because bisexuality isn’t something that we discuss as a society. Bisexual/pansexual erasure is still incredibly prominent, even with deeply loved and popular characters such as Ilana Wexler of Broad City and Annalise Keating of How To Get Away With Murder.
Even with friends who identified with the bisexual label, it never occurred to me that I had the option to be openly attracted to more than one gender. I liked guys and I was a girl, so I was straight, even though I openly stared at women’s bodies and had a massive “girl crush” on Brie Larson.
So, on my third night living in New York City, I walked my dad the four blocks from my apartment to The Big Gay Ice Cream shop. Hands shaking and heart palpitating, I ordered for us and receded into the corner with my dad to wait for our cones. After spending minutes bouncing back and forth from thoughts like, “He doesn’t really need to know, does he?,” “What if I get disowned?,” and “If I don’t tell him now, I never will,” I blurted out the words I never expected to have to say to my father.
“So, Dad do you know why I took you to The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop?” He appeared to be listening, while humming along to the very dad-pleasing soundtrack the shop tends to play.
“Because I’m a Big Gay.”
He didn’t respond. Instead, he began singing along to whatever was on the sound system, arguably something by Blood, Sweat, and Tears or John Cougar Mellencamp.
“Dad?” I sighed and turned away from him, assuming that he either didn’t care or wasn’t listening.
Suddenly snapping back into the conversation, my father turned to me and said, “What? Oh, I thought you were making another joke.”
“Nope. I was trying to come out to you.”
“I sort of already assumed you were at least kind of gay.”
This is a reaction I got from most people who truly knew me, followed by lovely assertions of support, love, and admiration. I am fully aware that my experience in coming out is one of the better ones. Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage two years ago, it is still largely not socially acceptable to be gay or queer in any capacity.
The shooting on an Orlando gay club in and of itself shows that being gay in America isn’t half as “normalized” as non-gay individuals tend to claim it is.
Assimilation of queer culture in the United States is a lie. However, it isn’t a lie in that I am still terrified to tell my extended family that I sometimes kiss girls for the fear of them no longer loving me. It is not a lie that violence against trans folk is rising, especially with ridiculous and discriminatory bathroom laws like North Carolina’s HB2. It is not a lie in that over fifty gay people, many of whom were people of color, were eliminated from this world far before their time, all because of one man’s disgustingly ignorant view of homosexuality.
It is a lie in that gay people are not safe in America. We never have been.
But again, I am one of the lucky ones. I am a white cis woman and am therefore given advantages trans folk and people of color are not. I have a father who supports me, queerness and all. I have friends who knew I was gay before I did and still gave me the time to find it out for myself. Most of all, I have a great deal of love in my life, and for that I am eternally grateful.