A few years after the publication of my first book, which was about my six years in a form of conversion therapy, another author invited me onto his podcast of “Queer Writers.” His show’s name should have warned me of what was to follow, but in the rush of scheduling, I entered the interview cold. At the top of the show the author introduced me as a “queer writer.” I clarified that I do not identify as “queer”; I am gay. All of this seemed insignificant.
He asked me when I first became aware of my queerness; what it was like growing-up queer; about my favorite queer authors; and for any advice I could offer other queer writers. Each of my answers felt more disingenuous than others. Whether he was aware of it or not, the author’s questions around my supposed queer identity had nothing to do with me or my unique journey; they were his projection of who or what he thought I was.
I am not gay. I am not a queer man. And I do not buy the notion that “gay” must automatically be grouped into or conflated with the label of “queer.” The former is not the same as or even a subgroup of the latter. In many ways, gay and lesbian identities are very similar.