Scroll To Top

The Gayest

The Gayest


"Everyone agreed that you're the gayest person in the department," my best friend from work said to me as we strolled through SoHo. Sara was recapping a conversation from a happy hour I missed because I had been at a book reading by Paula Deen, the eccentric Southern woman on the Food Network.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Nobody gave any reasons. Someone asked who was the biggest homosexual, people looked around, and Matt said your name. Everybody agreed."

I was immediately irritated and annoyed. Out of the 50 individuals who work in my division at NYU, 11 of us are gay men. How could I so quickly and unanimously be considered the fruitiest of the bunch?

Sara changed the topic to her upcoming wedding. As she talked about whether or not to keep her hair straight or curly, I recalled a friend's birthday party a year ago. We were at a straight bar near Union Square, and an attractive woman, probably in her late 20s, repeatedly glanced my way the entire night. Eventually, she approached me and asked, "Are you here for Craig's party?"

"Yes, I am," I said, as I watched her eyes get big and the color drain from

her face.

"Oh, you're gay," she interjected.

I had said three words. Three very little words. Each with one syllable. That was all it took for her to know my sexual orientation.

"I am," I said with an awkward laugh, realizing that she had wanted to hit on me.

"Oh, I thought. I mean, I'm sorry," she mumbled, and then ran off, looking embarrassed.

I turned around and told my friends what happened, and they burst out laughing. I wasn't amused. I left the party soon after that and walked home, feeling sorry for myself.

Still talking about her wedding, Sara decided she should keep her hair curly since she was having an outdoor ceremony in July. "After all," she said. "It could never be completely straight anyway."

Apparently, with a voice like mine, neither could I.

That week I couldn't stop fixating on the idea of me as the biggest queen at work. I tried thinking of stereotypes I fit, but things still didn't make sense. Of all the gay men in my department, I was the only one in a long-term relationship. My boyfriend and I lived together, had joint finances, and shared holidays with each other's families. We were boringly monogamous. Our nights usually concluded with Seinfeld, not sex. So it couldn't be that I embodied the stereotype of the promiscuous gay man with a wild night life. I hadn't set foot in a gay club in three years. Of all the queer men I worked with, my homelife seemed the most heterosexual.

Ok, my hobbies and interests were never particularly manly. I'd much rather be at a Broadway show than at a Yankees game. Given a choice, I always picked a day at the spa over a day of camping. I've typically been more comfortable at brunches with women chatting about sample sales than out having beers with the guys talking about cars or the stock market.

Not long ago I was walking down Third Avenue with my friend Lauren. It was raining and we shared an umbrella. We passed a homeless man sprawled out on the sidewalk who yelled to Lauren, "Hey, gorgeous, want to get married?"

"Sorry, I'm taken," Lauren said, looking up at me.

The homeless man screamed back, "Yeah, to a homo."

I wasn't singing "It's Raining Men" under the umbrella. I was just walking. Even the homeless man had enough gaydar to know I wasn't heterosexual.

I assumed that I was decreed the gayest at my job because I was the least likely to pass as straight. I wore form-

fitting Burberry polos, openly raved about Kelly Clarkson, and bought expensive Kiehl's skin care products even though I was only 28. If I were put in a lineup, it probably wouldn't take someone with Nancy Drew's investigative skills to finger me as the boy who likes boys. Nevertheless, I was still perplexed by people's need to ask, "Who among us is the biggest fairy?" I doubt straight guys ever sat around saying: "Bob, you're definitely the straightest one here." "No way, Harry. You're totally straighter."

When I moved to Manhattan four years ago I thought I was relocating to the gay mecca, as if the mother ship were calling me home. On my first outing to the bars of Chelsea and subsequent walks along Eighth Avenue I quickly observed that I didn't look like other gay men in the area. Standing six feet tall and weighing 140 pounds, I was a skinny Jewish bookworm who had no interest in going to the gym to become one of the musclemen who ruled the New York City gayborhoods. They paid little attention to me, so at that point in my life I felt like I wasn't gay enough.

I never believed my sexuality was a choice, but how I presented myself to the world was. Until I came out of the closet my senior year at Emory University, I wore oversized T-shirts and pretended to have a crush on Jennifer Aniston, like many of the straight, beer-drinking guys my age, never letting on that my lust was actually for Brad Pitt. I've since learned that I wasn't fooling anyone--my family members and friends have said they always assumed I was gay.

Growing up in Indiana, the boys in my school constantly asked why I talked like a girl. I didn't understand what they meant until I was in third grade, when I heard myself on an answering machine. I sounded just like my friend Liz, so each night I prayed for my voice to deepen and be like my dad's. After puberty, when I thought my prayers had been answered, the same boys asked why I talked like Michael Jackson. I always felt my voice was a reminder that I was different, a freak, and less than a real man.

When I came out at 22, my shrink said it could take several years to fully accept my sexuality. Six years have passed, and I'm now sharing my life with an incredible partner, but I still struggle, because I think of myself as a liberal Jewish pseudo-intellectual, not an uberhomosexual. I know it isn't a bad thing to be the gayest one. I'm just not sure how to accept the title or if I'm ready to wear the tiara and sash.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories Editors