Jodie Dallas was ridiculed and dismissed every time he came out. He was also constantly alone, single, and nearly friendless because his homosexuality separated him from his family. Ellen DeGeneres came out when I was in high school, and her breezy character became heavy, angry, and hurt. Again, gay was associated with isolation and pain. Both character’s authentic selves were met with abandonment. Both portrayals of homosexuality demonstrated to me that happiness and acceptance of gay would be elusive. I combatted this knowledge by keeping everyone at arm’s length, hiding behind adjectives and grouping them to fit in.
Middle school proved to be a complicated time because I saw how everyone experimented with identity. For them their exploration didn’t have many venturing far from home, keeping them safely in the group. My search for identity would have had me travelling far into the realm of gay-other. I was scared of the concept of isolation, so steered off the queer identity, and built a wall of comics and cartoons, safely hiding within the group. Homosexual was safely hidden beneath goofball. A lack of interest in sports was chalked up to geek. I ignored the adventure of exploring a gay identity, and embraced the descriptions that were safe for me.