You know, I’ve been really proud of myself concerning my gay identity, because I’ve come a long way since coming out. I get overly boy-crazy without caution, I wear whatever the hell I want and I talk just about anything on this blog. But recently, I’ve come to realize that despite all this flagrance, I am not as out as I’d like. My outness is not the ideal one that I’ve imagined it to be.
I get boy-crazy, I really do. And there is a post about that on this blog. But have I ever asked anyone out without hesitation? Never! I’m not brave enough for that. That might have to do with 2 things – cultural upbringing and heteronormality in society. Burmese culture, like most Asian cultures (I presume), is one in which you fall in love before you date. By the time you’re dating, you’re already in a deep committed relationship – or so it’s supposed to be. The love lives of some people even go in the order of arranged marriage, relationship, child bearing and rearing and falling in love (if that ever happens). Asking people out is somewhat taboo. And when you’re dating, your date or boyfriend/girlfriend is almost presumed to be your fiancé(e). I was born in and immersed in that culture. So, although I’m very frequently the one to hail, “Fuck traditions!“, my brain has been culturally conditoined for thoughts like this to flash through my head when I see someone I like: “Could I spend the rest of my life with them?” I know, it’s stupid. And about heteronormality, it’s obvious. Most straight boys would take offense when a gay person asks them out. They would feel their masculinity threatened. Not many can take our hitting on them as a compliment. And there aren’t many straight allies like my straight crush neighbour whose response on me asking him out was, “If I were gay, you’d be a fine candidate.” And you never know who’s straight and who’s gay. I’ve said it many times before: I have a terrible gaydar! I can take no for an answer, but I can’t have anyone overreacting upon my affection for or interest in them.
I wear almost anything that fits me – clothes and accessories, men’s, women’s, unisex. I have a thing for androgyny and gender-bending. But shopping has always been a big problem. I can never easily find stuff that I like. Even when I do, it’s hard to lay my hands on them. I’ve once bought shaving blades and nail polish at a supermarket in Burma, and I couldn’t stand the look on the cashier’s face when I was checking out. I usually shop online. Shopping on the internet, on the internet, is much personalized and very private. I can buy whatever I want, whenever I want and the seller doesn’t have to know who I am or what I plan to do with the products. Most of the make-up and women’s clothes and accessories I own were ordered online. Malls are never fun enough for me, because not finding anything I want or like is just boring and finding what I like but not being able to or being too scared to ask about stuff is too restricting. Although I dress fabulously whenever I go shopping, I barely even touch uber brightly-coloured men’s clothing or men’s accessories that are too fancy. I would often need some lame excuse to check things out or someone to do that on my behalf.
Having said that, I have done pretty badass things though, as of gender-bending. I’ve walked around this little Midwestern college town in heels and make-up. I have done music juries (like finals for private music lessons) at my college in heels and skinny pants. Musicians can be pretty darn conservative about stage presence, but I made it good. But I have been able to do all those things because of the shield provided by the progressiveness of the college and the social activism of its students, faculty members and staff members. I have never taken my outrageous self-expression off-campus or out of this town. Except for once, a black girl friend of mine and I went out for lunch in a nearby town. We were deliberately trying to look like a scandalous couple. And it worked. It was fun: people were shocked and goo-goo-eyed and we just strutted around the restaurant with stern I-don’t-care-what-you-think countenances. But I don’t think I could ever do something like that without encouragement or company like hers.
The thing is I’m still sheltered. I don’t think I am consciously doing it to myself, but I probably am conditioned to cover up my gay self as a form of protection. I’ve always considered myself to be (almost) perfectly out. But it’s not quite so. I still have barriers to break down.