Hello, my name is Zachary, I'm 24 years old, and I am an openly gay man.
Why would I mention that I'm gay?
Well, it's simple really: I want to be seen that way.
For years, I have had to constantly conceal that part of myself in fear that I'd be ostracized from society. However, this was difficult as I had a love for Lady Gaga and knew the entirety of the "Grease" soundtrack by heart. Throughout my adolescence, I was constantly and ceremoniously antagonized by my peers for my supposed homosexuality. I've been called a f*g to my face, behind my back, and even via social media by those who sought to make my life a living hell. It got to the point where I tried to masculinize myself in order to be free from their bullying, but I knew that would never work.
When I graduated and went to college, I realized I could completely reinvent myself to become the person I always wanted to be.
When I got the age-old question of "Are you gay?" I answered with an affirmative: Yes I am, indeed. I started dressing how I wanted to and began my foray into dating men. It felt like I could breathe for once in my life, no longer hiding behind a closed closet door. As time went on, I became more comfortable with my sexuality, and I was finally able to express it in a public space rather than just among friends. However, of course, I picked those locations wisely as to not draw attention to myself.
Nowadays, I'm unashamed and proud of who I am.
I gobble up music put out by Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Cher with the vigor of a starved shipwreck victim. I find myself binging shows like "Dynasty" (not the reboot), "Golden Girls", and "Designing Women." I paint my nails in any color by Chanel and dress in drag every Halloween (this year I was thinking of being Jackie O). I find comfort in being surrounded by others like me, who understand me, who have been through the same struggle I have. Being an LGBT+ person means that, all of the time, you chose your chosen family over the one that you're biologically related to.
It sort of hurts my feelings when people say that they don't see my sexuality, they just see me.
I know that their intentions are good, but I feel like it's almost like an erasure of who I am. I don't mind that people know me as gay and talk about it - to me, it's having visibility after being invisible for so long.
I will continue to be the screaming, hysterical queen that I am until the day I can no longer scream.