“Are you gay?” I’ve heard this question from many people throughout the twenty-six years I have been alive. My high school years were especially a time when people felt the need to ask me such a personal question about something that isn’t any of their business. Bullies would ask me this question when they had no other intention than to provoke me. I would also hear it from people who genuinely had the best of intentions. It didn’t matter who asked me that question or what their intentions were. I didn’t appreciate it because I felt people were pressuring me into thinking about something I just wasn’t ready to explore.
Rumors have been spreading about singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. His self-titled album has reached number one on US Billboard 200 charts. It also became Apple Music’s second most streamed pop album of 2018, behind Justin Timberlake’s Man Of The Woods. Therefore, I am not entirely surprised people have felt the need to gossip about his personal life. I realize that rumors are not statements of fact. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder about his sexuality. However, there are plenty of straight men who exhibit stereotypes that people tend to associate with gay men.
A few years ago, I wrote a post which addressed a refrain many of us gays have heard time and time again from our heterosexual friends. It was appropriately titled “you should be more discreet.” I don’t just hear that from bigots who have nothing better to do than express hatred about something they will never have the brains or the heart to understand. I also hear it from people who claim to be on board with “the gay thing,” as they call it. It used to really irritate me when I was newly out of the closet. However, I now understand that even those who claim to be accepting need to be educated from time to time.
If Shawn Mendes were to come out as gay, would the same people who keep gossiping about his personal life turn around and tell him that he should “keep in the bedroom?” I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to this question were yes. It’s one thing for a celebrity to have to experience such a thing. It is another thing for someone like me to experience it. I don’t perform concerts in sold out venues across the world. I have very little money. I don’t know what it is like to be forbidden from going out in public alone in attempts to avoid the crazy paparazzi.
I do, however, know how it feels to know that people are wondering about something I simply wasn’t ready to explore and reveal about myself. Being on the Autism Spectrum didn’t help in that regard. People will notice when you are different. Often times, they will feel the need to point it out in ways that are clearly intended to make someone feel miserable. That is why I say to anyone who has experienced speculation with regards to things like sexual orientation and gender identity. You are the only person who knows the truth. Therefore, you are the only person who should have permission to reveal it!