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I knew I was gay when I was thirteen, but I hid it for years. I folded it and slipped it under the rest of my emotional clutter. Not worth the hassle. No one will care anyway. If I can just keep making it smaller, smaller, smaller.... My shame took the form of a shrug, but it was shame. I’m a white, cis man from an upper-middle class liberal family. Acceptance was never a question. But still, suspended in all this privilege, I balked. It took me years. It’s ongoing. I’m saying this now because I have conspicuously not said it before. I’ve been out for years in my private life, but never quite publicly. I’ve played that tedious game. Most painfully, I’ve talked about the gay characters I’ve played from a neutral, almost anthropological distance, as if they were separate from me. These evasions are bizarre and embarrassing to me now, but at the time they were natural. Discretion was default, and it seemed benign. It would be presumptuous to assume anyone would care, yeah? And anyway, why should I have to say anything? What right do strangers have to the intimate details of my life? These and other background whispers––new, softer forms of the same voices from when I was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen.... Shame can come heavy and loud, but it can come quiet too; it can take cover behind comfort and convenience. But it’s always violent. For me, this discretion has become airless. I don’t want to censor––consciously or not––the ways I talk, sit, laugh, or dress, the stories I tell, the jokes I make, my points of reference and connection. I don’t want to be complicit, even peripherally, in the idea that being gay is a problem to be solved or hushed. I’m grateful to be gay. Queerness is a solution. It’s a promise against cliche and solipsism and blandness; it’s a tilted head and an open window. I value more everyday the people, movies, books, and music that open me to it. If you’re gay, bi, trans, two-spirit or questioning, if you’re confused, if you’re in pain or you feel you’re alone, if you aren’t or you don’t: You make the world more surprising and bearable. To all the queers, deviants, misfits, and lovers in my life: I love you. I love you. Happy Pride!