Let's talk about style—not the style you wear, but the style you live.
Everyone lives a different lifestyle. Some choose to live in seclusion. Some choose to live in nudist colonies. Some become priests or nuns. Some choose to be drug dealers, and some choose to be terrorists.
The one lifestyle you cannot choose is to be gay.
It's a naturally born lifestyle. To most gay people, it's a lifestyle no one wants to talk about or ask questions about. It's a lifestyle that people will make fun of or bash gay people for. It's the topic that can shut down a party, quiet the loud mouth or just gross out your neighbor.
What most people don't realize is that being gay does not mean you can catch it from talking to a gay person. Or if you hug a gay friend, you’re automatically gay. That's not how it works. In the words of Lady Gaga, we were born this way baby!
Usually you know from a young age, and either choose to repress it or you go with it and live your life—often in pure torment. Growing up in a very Italian household in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn—with very strong connections to some tough people—you learn to hide your true self, to avoid being abused.
Abused by your own family, abused by your friends. So you go through the motions of living a "normal" life, when really all you’re doing is abusing yourself by keeping your true self hidden. Hiding my true feelings led me to try to fit in, and become a father at the age of 18.
I then had to really hide myself and try to live a "normal" life. Finally, I realized it was unfair to my child and the woman that gave me my child. So on top of being a teenage dad—I had to support a family and teach my child about life, all while I was afraid of my own lifestyle.
It was years later that I finally came out—but only to my immediate family, my child and her mom. Some of my childhood friends and some of my clients are finding out now, for the first time, that I am gay and can finally get married. Yes, I have been asked to do , being gay and being a parent. First I thought it would be fun and I thought it would be great for my daughter to have a good nest egg for her future, as she is starting college.
But would it open the floodgates for more abuse? More torment? More comments and more fear? Is that really fair? Should I have to worry that my daughter is going to be cursed at? Or someone might attack her or myself? Or her mom for that matter?
I know that we will have supporters, but we will also have haters. And the haters are the ones that can ruin everything. Lives, careers, futures. My haters didn't ruin my life; because I left the tough town I grew up in and made my way to a place where I felt safe.
But there are many people that stay where they are, and fight every single day—just to get through work, or pay for their groceries without someone calling them a “faggot” or a “dyke.” In this day and age when slavery is over and we are a free country, we still have to be enslaved in our closet.
Passing the bill to allow gay people to marry in New York was tremendous in the year 2011. But it took so long to start the process of freeing us. I have been getting emails and questions about it from people who know I am gay—asking what my feelings are, if I was planning on getting married, etc. etc.
My feelings are that it never should have been an issue. My right to marry whoever I love should always have been mine. My lifestyle never should have affected you.
My lifestyle—however I choose to live it—is just that, my lifestyle.
It's a sad world when we can fight for freedom for people in other countries; we can elect our first black president here, but yet until days ago I couldn't marry someone I chose to love, in my home town, like everyone else.
And President Obama—why are you dancing around the idea of gay marriage?
Don’t you know that your own parents would not have been allowed to marry in some states when they did? Seriously Barack? You broke major barriers with your win. And now so did we, but only in a handful of states. Your support of marriage equality would make a difference. Isn’t it time for you to stand up for our basic civil rights?
And to the haters: until you pay the bills for the gay person in line buying groceries—keep your mouth shut. The only thing you should be saying is excuse me, thank you and have a good day. Keep the ignorant and hurtful comments to yourself.
I'm someone's child. I have a heart. I have feelings and I'll be the first one to help a stranger in need. Would you?
White Plains resident Julius Michael is the author of this column and the trusted stylist to many high-end Westchester clients. See his website at www.JuliusMichael.com or reach him at , 1 Christie Pl. Scarsdale, at 914.725.1123