Coming Out

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NewNowNext covered Connor Franta’s coming out vlog.

Didn’t know who Connor Franta was?

Same.

He’s a YouTube star, and he just came out on… well, YouTube.

This is important to (almost) everyone.

It is important to every gay man or woman; to every brother or sister of every gay man or woman. It is important to every father, mother, son, daughter, cousin, aunt, teacher, friend, boss, colleague and, and, and – of every gay man or woman.

I can’t speak for gay women, but as a guy, I will say this:

It is the most intimate experience that a gay man will trip, in his lifetime, ever.

Yes… including that.

I wasn’t 30 seconds into Connor’s video before the Universe reminded me how momentous that rite of passage was.

Goosebumpcoveredbodywithalumpinyourthroatyounoticeonlyafterwetcheeks will do that to you.

It’s a rite of passage only some human beings have to do, but do – we have to.

Watching Connor’s vlog – 12 years after my pursuant of peace (and forgetting too quickly, clearly) – I was inclined to fake-stifle that ‘really?’ giggle…

Jejune. And vapid, I know.

To Connor, this is his moment.

Like mine was then: a mountainous monotony of perdition, immovable before me.

The ultimate tollgate.

And there is no alternate route to where you must arrive.

You can picnic where you are or pretend you’d actually wanted to veer off and go on some other trail… Whatever! When you’re ready, you must turn yours through the tollgate.

It really is a big deal

It is. So we mark-time while we figure– or try to figure it all out.

As a mature teen an insolate brat, I settled into the following theory:

Why should I have to sit my parents down and tell them that I am gay when my sister doesn’t have to do the same – just because she’s not? She doesn’t have to gather herself before them, hands in lap, chin on chest and clear her throat before murmuring: ‘Mom… Dad… I like boys.’

So? What’s the big deal? Why should I have to?

For the record – it was no surprise. Obviously. But that’s not the point, because it didn’t negate the need for the occasion from either/all sides.

So here’s the thing: I did have to. We do have to.

A hundred years from now, society’s evolution may make this topic a complete nonentity.

I hope so. But we’re not there.

The world my parents grew up in was different to mine. Radically. And thankfully so.

We amortize that gap as we evolve, but that is as gradual as the days are long, so I am living inside of it – still. As is my Mom. As is my Dad. And although I felt like a lone ranger, I now know that I never was.

Everyone close enough to see enough lived/s inside of it too.

So I did have to.

We do have to.

That’s how family works.

Your journey may feel like your own, but you are the best-supporting actor in somebody else’s (and in that role because of how they rate you as a human being). And inside of themselves, they’re going as mad wanting to hear what you are wanting to say ~ and mostly just because they love you so.

That’s how family works.

Sidebar: If your reality involved reactions of the very grave and desperately sad opposite, then know this – they were going as mad wanting to hear what you were wanting to say, only to grant release of the cowardice they cannot command themselves.

Still, you have to.

We have to.

That’s why it’s such a big deal

Everything before it makes Galileo look like a lazy lout and Columbus’ sojourn seem casual by comparison… But it’s all perspective, right?

Ergo… thank you Connor.

Twelve years on and I can safely say: I needed that.

“You can’t not think about it…” he says.

Truly.

You can’t. I still can’t – even now.

It’s what’s called ‘identity’ – and is proof that each of ours is unique to us.

Everything pre– was rooted in isolation, depression and obsession.

Everything after has been varying scales of exhalation, anticipation and obsession.

(Yes. Some things just change shape.)

Connor’s video – brought to his global audience with speed because of the digital devices we’ve embraced, and, whether self-serving or journey – is his intricate installation and to date, the ultimate cultural coup.

Cultural, whether seen by 1 or one billion, because it will motivate, move and magnify emotions – whichever way they may lean…

And for what it’s worth, it is one more story for the very beautiful, isolated and obsessed pre-tollgate human beings to hang hope upon.

G-d knows… I needed stories like that.

And there will never be enough.

So to every out gay man or woman – and to the brothers and sisters of out gay men and women; to the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, teachers, friends, bosses, colleagues – and, and, and – reach out.

We have to. Not because we ‘have to’ …

…but because we have it, to.

My looking back gives me the gut-great grasp of this:

There is a profoundly infinite difference between define and confine.

“At some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don’t keep other people out.
They fence you in.
Life is messy. That’s how we’re made.
So, you can waste your lives drawing lines.
Or you can live your life crossing them.”

― Shonda Rhimes

© Dylan Balkind

The gays made Oscar do it!

Western Cape Pastor Oscar Bougardt has singlehandedly solved the work of Desmond Nair, Gerrie Nel, Hilton Botha and anyone else concerned with Oscar Pistorius’ motives. It was the gays who made him do it. I for one can’t be blamed because on the night in question (and early into the next morning), I was polishing a 100kg golden penis I have on my front porch.

Wasn’t me. But, granted, it could have been any one of the other guys gays. If Pastor Bougardt says it is so, it has gotsta be true. Mambaonline reports that Bougardt said: “Oscar was one of those sports stars who supported the filthy lifestyle of homosexuals.” Before we go any further, let me also just inform you that Mambaonline themselves were behind the flood that killed 142 000 in East Asia in 1935, the drought of 1984 that killed 150 000 people in the Sudan, and me. I have officially been listed as one of the greatest disasters of our time.

I am going straight to hell. We know this is true because Bougardt has said that “…any person who supports homosexuals are doomed for hell.” This is hectic because no one can be sure how much time we really have and red just doesn’t look good with my complexion. Which leaves me at yet another crossroads. Here’s the thing: I used to think that any tepid small-mind who based their homophobia on the oldest book ever written, and thought it to somehow be a true reflection of any sense of the divinity that brought us here, could kiss my ruby red Judy Garland slippers. But… this Bougardt chap seems so legit. Just look at this picture of him:

Bougaardt

They say he has sent provocative emails to a string of gay activist groups. I like the word ‘provocative’. Physically it makes me think of Zac Efron. Cerebrally it makes me think of Madonna, Joan of Arc, Michelle Obama, Edith Piaff, Bette Midler, Helen Zille or Margaret Thatcher – to name just a few. Women who think and women who have never become victims of– or defined by stereotypes that are as old as the ground we stand upon. A great example to homosexuals everywhere, who are here to stay daaahlings. And if anyone who thinks beyond Bougardt’s little book is going to hell too, so be it. He can go spit the dummy by himself in some quiet, gay-free corner of the Universe. Fuck him.

 

© Dylan Balkind

Come as you are. Gay burgers accepted.

We’re ok with two men holding guns, but two men holding hands? Not so much. Read it anyway you want, there’s still a long way to go before everyone gets the same acceptance in everyday situations, no questions asked. So it’s quite something when a brand attaches itself to homosexuality with favour. Few have done it, but those who have, have certainly made a statement. Ergo, I like the French offering from McDonald’s called “Come as You Are”. There is little more affecting than the elephant in the room when one person has a secret to tell and assumes the other is not going to want to hear it.

What resonates for me with this spot is that no product or promo is being sold and there is no cheesy exchange of service brilliance. There is simply a soothing reminder that everyone is welcome at McDonald’s, told tenderly between furtive whispers, nervous glances and a moment of suspense in the climax where a son sees that the distance between him and his father is nothing but obvious.

Television commercials are wonderful opportunities to tell stories that leave an indelible impression. This one wins and delivers realistic performances in a neatly packaged spot that successfully puts the brand into the subject of conversations. In a few days, you will still remember who it was for, you are likely to tell a friend, and where it goes from there is only limited to the vast atmosphere of social networking. I’m sold, are you?

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