Chris, in his own words: “At this point in my life, being gay has come to mean many complicated and sometimes contradictory things for me.
I think (or I hope) I’ve moved past the point of applying stereotypes to myself to be “accepted” by straight people. Being gay informs so much of what I do and who I am that I can’t look to manufactured images as guides; they’re just not adequate. I think this is becoming a trend among many young gay men in New York. The mainstreaming of the gay rights movment in the 1990s and 2000s has led to a saturation of images of middle-upper class, white, gay men in the media which don’t fit the experiences of young queer people anymore. It’s leading us to create new ways of expressing our identity, which is thrilling.
It’s also enormously challenging. I often find myself being silenced, not just by conservative straight people, but also by those who call themselves liberal, or even allies of the LGBTQ community. Because same-sex marriage is gathering mainstream support, straight people seem to think we’ve won, or are about to win, the battle for full equality without questioning the limitations of that equality. All the support is wonderful, but It’s becoming harder for me to explain to some of my friends what it means to be queer.
For me, being queer is fantastically liberating. It means existing in a niche in society where I have to be critical of normalized injustices, but where I can also be free to explore my personality, relationships, friendships, and sexuality without heteronormative constraints. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to do that, and in a city with such a multitude of queer spaces, people, and experiences.”