Cynical and Southern: Still not comfortable with the word "gay"

Was I tainted in my youth by all the negative connotations that went along with the word “gay”? After all this time is my core self unwilling to expand the meaning of gay beyond the “Rock Hudsons” and “Liberaces” of 1985? Is it possible that the years I got chided for being a “fag” by my childhood classmates affected how my adult mind reacts to the word? My classmates were right; I do like boys, so why do I have such a hard time embracing the labels for boys who like boys?

When I was growing up, “gay” wasn’t a good thing. Neither was “homosexual” or “queer.” While many subcultures reclaim derogatory terms used to label them, I’ve been unable to reconcile my feelings toward those words. As an openly non-heterosexual male for over fifteen years, I still feel an internal resistance to any word used to describe my sexuality. I know there is nothing negative about the words themselves, and yet they still feel inherently wrong.

Recently a friend posted a rant online about how he isn’t straight or gay; he only falls in love with souls. I am equally envious and skeptical of his zen outlook on sexuality. Although I too could proclaim that my sexuality is indefinable, that would be a lie. I like men. Period.

I am also aware of the camp of people who resist the word “gay” and define themselves as “queer.” I understand “queer” to be a homosexual living outside of the “gay” mainstream. I see “queer” as being artsy, political, and defiant of stereotypes. However, this is also a word that feels unnatural.

I’m still searching for a word that describes my brand of sexuality that is not uncomfortable or tainted. I am starting to think I need to invent a new word. Any ideas?

Find Jeremy Gloff on Facebook

I’ve spent my entire life answering to the name Jeremy without feeling like my parents misnamed me. I’ve always felt completely comfortable checking the “male” box on applications. When someone asks about my heritage, I gladly reveal that I am Polish and white. I have worn a slew of labels throughout my life that felt comfortable at the time: punk, hippie, writer, singer, romantic...

However, I’ve never felt comfortable calling myself gay, queer, or homosexual. I toyed with the idea that I was bisexual as a mental exercise, but truth be told my love of and attraction to men is strong and definite. I am as “gay” as they come, but even after fifteen years it doesn’t feel right saying it out loud. I am comfortable with my attraction to men, just not any words used to define it. I’ve always felt like a gaylien.

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