Before I get into this week’s topic, I wanted to thank everyone who took time to read my first column last week, “Whatever Happened to I Met Him at Starbucks?” I received some strong pushback over my criticism of Grindr in the comments. Most of you feel the gay social app is a great tool for fun, casual hook-ups and, when both parties know what to expect, can actually be beneficial to sexual exploration. Also, a few of you felt I was slut-shaming. Ouch. Apologies to those who felt this way…that was not my intention! I individually replied to some comments under that article.
Now on to this week’s column…
Every Tuesday night, the brightest, boldest and—let’s face it—most fabulous group of University of South Carolina students pack together in one gaytastic room for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance (BGLSA) meetings.
I love attending BGLSA. I love the pounding Madonna music that welcomes me and there’s always something glittering to take home. But…I didn’t always love them. In fact, it wasn’t until my second semester of joining the org. that I really let go, found a great group of gays and lived my life. Before that, I was plagued by a group of terrifying men I deemed the “It Clique.”
I typically don’t have qualms about my appearance. I’m a bigger guy—not obese—but I consider myself above average with a little bit more to love. My voice is pretty high-pitched and I dress like I’m going to the gym almost every day (though, I don’t actually ever go to the gym…womp).
When I attended my first BGLSA meeting at the beginning of my sophomore year, I was excited to finally just be myself. But that didn’t happen. When I waltzed in—Walmart-brand gym shorts and all—I was immediately stared down by a group of perrrfect boys: Tan skin, athletic builds, and dressed head-to-toe in Southern frat-style Vineyard Vines garb.
Meanwhile, in my Friends t-shirt, I thought…well, f**k.
They were polite. They smiled and humored me with some light banter, but ultimately I knew what they were thinking. I did not fit the mold of what my naïve freshly-out-of-the-closet mind thought was the “perfect gay.” Therefore, I was not worthy of friendship.
One…erm, sweet (?) member tersely said, “Nice to meet you, Chris.” But it sounded more like “Nice try, idiot.” I went home that evening, frankly, feeling like s**t.
What happened in the forthcoming semester was a useless, haphazard mission to get into the “It Clique.” I started hardcore dieting to lose weight, dropping my voice an octave and spending way too much money on uncomfortable preppy clothes that I squeezed into for every weekly meeting.
I felt like a 14-year-old girl trying to get a seat at the popular table…and no one was buying it. Week after week the “It Clique” would give me the same icy, yet pleasant rapport. Not mean. But not very nice, either.
And culture was influencing my mind too. Around this time, my then-roommates showed me a College Humor video called “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends.”
While very funny, it encouraged this crazy idea I had that the only way I could be accepted into this community was if I became a perfect member of the “It Clique.”
That being an apparent impossibility, I prepared myself to die alone.
Of course, this is extremely dramatic and grossly inaccurate. Sadly, it took me eight months of suffering to realize it. One day, I went for a drive and went to Taco Bell. Taco. Bell. I went home and put on sweat pants and watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and it was the most liberating experience of my sophomore year.
I stopped trying. I stopped caring. I surrendered and realized I would never be a member of the “It Clique,” no matter how much I tried. I see now that this is actually a fantastic thing.
As a result, I met five guys that are now my best friends. I can eat chicken fingers in front of them and not feel like a humpback whale. Basically, I freed myself from the pressures of this impossible “It Clique.”
If you find yourself feeling pressured by your university’s “It Clique,” let me save you from a year’s worth of struggle—no actual humans are like that.
People—yes “It” gays included—are messy and loud and unpredictable and unorganized. We eat carbs. We dress retched occasionally. The second I embraced my craziness was the second craziness left my life.
And I haven’t looked back—at the “It Clique” or those Ralph Lauren shorts that I no longer fit into—since.