This past year has been an important formative year for me, in which I have done a lot of personal reflecting on my life, and how I live it. It's been a year of challenges, coupled with success that I feel have made me a more grounded human being. However, this information about myself and how I view the world have lead me to come to one conclusion I think is important to share.
I don't want to be a part of the gay culture.
Please don't get me wrong. I love being gay. It's one of the best things about me. I just don't identify with gay culture, and instead would rather reject it. Also, when I talk about rejecting gay culture, I refer to rejecting mainstream culture. What does that consist of? Well, here is how I see it.
First, for the longest time, I did not know to consider myself a part of gay culture. When I think of culture, I think of the rich history and community that I was born into by my Iranian heritage. I wasn't born into gay culture, because I wasn't gay (or wasn't out, rather) until I went to college. Though I may have known I was gay all my life, I was not able to appreciate gay culture and seek it out until the past four years.
And when I thought I found this culture, I felt it was either very masculine-oriented or, and did not favor people of color. Those who created the culture I tried to immerse myself in on campus (and in Austin) were physically fit people, and to my displeasure seemed to promote an anti-intellectual environment. What is more, individuality and personal identity expression were not encouraged. There was a look, and if you wanted to fit in, you had better fit that look.
So I found myself changing to meet those criteria during my sophomore and junior year. I put more effort into my physical appearance, and refrained from philosophical discussions during social gatherings. I turned away from my Iranian heritage, in hopes that it would increase my whiteness. I tried to buy my friends' attention by being the person that threw the big themed parties, that allowed them to put on the skimpiest outfit, and drink. I was a different person.
And still, I feel like I wasn't a part of the culture, and here's why. It's because this mainstream gay culture rejected me. As much as I tried to be a part of it, I was kept on the sidelines. It took me a long while to realize this, but I came to it on my on volition. I spent some time not trying to fit in, and focused on my own personal expression, and when I tried to come back to that community I'd been away from, discovered that I was never going to be in that culture.
Nor did I want to anymore. I've come to value self-expression and individuality more than trying to fit into some mold. I may have a critical view of mainstream culture, but if this year has taught me anything, it's to value every part of my identity. And if certain aspects of my identity don't mesh with mainstream culture, well, there is always some other community to be a part of.