Charles, in his own words: “It would be nice to say that being gay to me means nothing more than sexual preferences or habits, but I think that would be a little naïve. Growing up gay or closeted shapes your outlook, and I feel like from that there’s a connection most gay men have with each other that’s more than a sexual thing. Like, oh, by being out of the closet, we both share a story that most people can’t relate to.
I just wish that from that we could open a more productive dialogue where we aren’t afraid to acknowledge the ways that being gay is still sometimes difficult. There’s this idea I think that if you admit that you’re struggling with being “out” or just being “gay,” you’ll be reminded that the solution is just to act “less gay,” and restrict any “gayness” of yours to the bedroom. But to be “gay” means more than sex. I feel like nobody wants to admit that but it’s still true. I mean, there’s a reason we all know what “act less gay” means. I feel like I notice these things because I’ve been “out” for so long now, like I came out to everybody when I was 14, so I’ve grown up with that, I don’t really ever think of myself as being gay. When I first came out I know that I did but that was so long ago I hardly even remember coming out or what it was like before I came out. Everybody told me I was gay before I came out, I was just one of those kids, and, again, it’s not like they were talking about my sex life because I was a little kid.
So people have always responded to me as gay. I’m lucky that for the most part none of those responses have been negative or violent, but for a lot of people it’s still frustrating being lumped into a group while you’re still trying to figure out your identity.”