Past: Bigger Than Boxes

I was the first fag I’d ever met before. It wasn’t until Will & Grace became wildly popular that I saw gay men on television, if only as characters. I didn’t really identify with either of them, though I liked Will and Jack a lot. In middle school, when I came out to some friends, a lot of them told me that I remended them of Jack. I was insulted.

I have never in my life been told that I should hate gays, I didn’t have any homophobia to overcome in realizing I was gay. It was not until after I came out of the closet and liked myself as a queer that people began to slam me with their prejudices. I was never pushed in a locker, but I often felt the confines of people’s expectations pressing in like a trash compactor. That includes people who were my friends.

I saw part of myself in Jack, sure. But I also saw part of myself in Grace. And Will. And my homeroom teacher, my mother, my best friend. I felt like being told that I was “a Jack” limited me to such a small part of my humanity. I found that it was almost impossible to share this feeling with my friends. They didn’t understand why I was upset. After all, I was a femmey gay boy, what more could there be to me? I was Jack, Jack was me. Fin.

I’m not a television character, and even the most well-acted, complex show can never show you the entirety of somebody’s humanity. We change and grow and even minute-to-minute we are altered by our choices and experiences. I finally feel at this point in my life that people I know have stopped believing that they can sum me up with a pithy phrase, or a TV character. It feels really nice to just be myself.

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