by Jillian Drinnon
Special to The Gayly
In the April issue of The Gayly, this writer told her story of growing up in Oklahoma thinking her gay utopia was somewhere else, perhaps in Portland, Oregon where she went to college. Find out now where her utopia really was. You can also find part 1 here.
It turned out that those cracks in my dream world were just the beginning of a crumbling fantasy. Within months, I had never felt more depressed in my life. Finding my tribe was proving more difficult than I had thought.
I began to get desperate. I started resorting to a horrible habit of mine, shapeshifting. Soon, my cheesy grin, wild clothes, and lively passion transmuted into a neutral expression, plain clothes, and a general disinterest.
No longer was I a “good noodle” but rather, just what everyone wanted me to be. I started being a trope just like everyone around me. I hung out with a small clique of gay kids from my school who always wanted to discuss the Tinder dates they had recently.
It became clear that if you weren’t vehemently against Republican, straight people, you were the same as them. Though I agreed with many of their beliefs, any time I tried to vocalize a middle ground, I was disapproved of immediately.
My popularity quickly began to wane.
I soon became known as “privileged” within the clique. I didn’t have to take depression medication; I gave out blessing bags to the homeless, and worst of all...I loved my whole family even though I disagreed with many of their political beliefs.
I was privileged because I got a job at a diner I loved. I was lucky because I performed well in school. It was fortuitous that I found someone to date. No matter what I did, it was never earned. I wasn’t liberal enough even though I volunteered for the causes I believed in. I was spoiled even though I worked desperately. I wasn’t gay enough even though I was indeed gay.
“What am I doing wrong,” was the thought that pounded in my head every long day and night like a jackhammer.
Months kept passing. My fleeting relationship ended. I didn’t find any new friends no matter the clubs, events, or apps that I had hoped would aid in my search. The people I knew began treating me worse and worse. Art was no longer enjoyable because to my “friends” nothing I did was good enough, including my art.
It had been a year, and I had lost all hope. I gave up. My dream of gay utopia was worse than I could have imagined. I couldn’t take the strangers screaming gay slurs at me. I couldn’t take the endless stream of disapproval from my peers. When I had expected to be greeted with open arms by the city of Portland, I instead had all friendly greetings responded with a frown and a request to “please, send an email and wait for one to two business days for a response.”
After I had worked so hard to leave it, a bitterly cold February wind blew me back to that country bumpkin town far away. I now exist in the present tense. I am an art school dropout, and for once in over a year, I am honestly happy. The place I had longed to leave is more lovely than I could have ever hoped. Here, I am greeted with the distinctly Oklahoman friendliness.
Portland wasn’t by any means purposeless. I have come to learn that most of the problems I had with being gay in Oklahoma were within myself. I hadn’t fully vanquished that God-fearing monster until I moved to Portland.
I no longer worry about old people staring at me. I am no longer ashamed to discuss my romantic life with my family. Most importantly, I now have the confidence to seek out the queer communities I never felt a need to look for.
I thank all my fellow LGBTQA family members who live in this wonderful state, because yes, Oklahoma isn’t as progressive as some of us may hope it to be, but it is its own unique gay utopia.
I have lived in two extremes. Before living in Portland, I never talked about my gayness for fear of offending people. In Portland, all I ever talked about was being queer.
Now, though I am in the same place I started, my life is new. I have found a middle ground, a comfort level, with my lesbianism. It is true that, for the most part, I hated Portland, but what I learned from that sad year is invaluable to me.
It turns out, Oklahoma was my gay utopia, I just had to leave for a little while to see that.
Copyright The Gayly – May 16, 2019 @ 7:15 a.m. CDT.