timberland chukka boots Coming out as gay means finding your own style
I had never decorated anything besides a Christmas tree, so I should have said “no.” I had the impression, however, that because I was gay, I could handle it. I was wrong.
It took us one week. When we finished, we gazed in horror at orange walls and a green shag carpet. The room resembled the inside of cantaloupe so strongly I could almost smell it. On my dad’s face was an expression of disappointment and confusion.
Clothes I could handle. Fashion was a favorite pastime of mine since elementary school. When I was 10, I went an entire winter in shorts because I didn’t like the way pants covered the tops of my shoes. In middle school, I wore Nike sweat pants because Adidas was “gay.” At 19, I spent $121 on sunglasses and then $91 on a second pair when I broke the first. Now, at age 22, I find myself checking out other students’ shoes.
Unlike T shirts or pants, shoes are telling. They are a bigger investment. When we buy shoes, we buy what we think of ourselves.
By looking at a man’s shoes, I can tell whether he is gay the bulkier the shoe, the more heterosexual the wearer. If the shoes can’t be exposed to rain for very long, the wearer is likely gay. I do not think this is because gay men are naturally stylish; I disproved that trying to decorate my dad’s living room. However, I think gay men,
like other stereotyped minorities, fit themselves into certain shoes because they are compelled to.
In middle school, I was harassed for being gay. I had not come out. I had never even kissed another boy, but to my classmates, I moved and spoke like a gay person. So it didn’t matter.
I denied it for many years, but I knew I was gay. I tried talking and even threatening myself into being straight, but I couldn’t do it. I realized I had no control over who I had a crush on, or who I fantasized about. The realization was jarring because that also meant I had no control over the truth my classmates forced on me. I did, however, have control over my clothes.
I wore sneakers, blue jeans and shirts with numbers on them. I left Old Navy one evening with a shirt that looked exactly like a referee’s uniform. Clothes were the only line of defense I had against the stereotypes into which I happened to fit. The clothes were the beginning of an obsessive tendency to alter every bit of me.
I feigned ignorance in groups where knowledge was unfashionable. I imitated male action heroes. I lost sight and touch of who I really was and did not care. I welcomed it. The more I resembled what I thought the majority preferred, the happier I was. But fashions change and die out, and so my happiness was fleeting.
Bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts nearly prevented me from coming out to my parents. Fortunately, they saw through the costumes I wore and told me that no matter what I was or wanted to be, they would love me. Despite my reluctance, I believed them and came out. It changed how I fashion myself. I no longer buy shoes because everyone else has them. Instead of fitting myself into something I wish I were, I wear what fits me.
Sam Ferrigno, 22,
of the Pawcatuck section of Stonington is a senior majoring in English at the University of Connecticut.