“I just don’t think it’s really coming out unless you come out to everyone. Your family included,” said Kim.
Was it Shauna’s imagination or did this Kim chick have a real attitude? She was acting like she was better than everyone else just because the people in her life knew she was gay, but that wasn’t such an accomplishment; you could tell just by looking at her. And maybe for others it was a little bit more complicated than that.
“Yeah well, for some of us it’s a bit more complicated, ok?” said Nick.
Wow, he said exactly what Shauna had been thinking. That was weird. Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the gay experience was kind of the same for lots of gay people; not that Shauna was for sure gay. But she’d come to another one of these Queen Collective meetings just for the heck of it, just to see.
“Not everyone has a family as accepting as yours, Kim,” said Leanne. “There’s still a lot of homophobic people in this world, even in a big city like Montreal.”
“Well that’s just it, isn’t it?” said Nick. “We don’t live in the city, we live in the suburbs and mom and dad and their fucking white picket fence aren’t so cool about it.”
“Whatever,” snorted Kim. “Everyone should just be themselves and fuck anyone who can’t deal with that, including parents.”
“So what? I should just go live on the street?” said Nick angrily. “My parents are crazy religious. If they knew they’d kick me out, or like make me go to one of those things where they try to convert you. Not to mention my fucking hockey team; they’d make my life hell. Fuck, you don’t even know what a risk I’m taking just by being in this group.”
“Why would you wanna be on a team that wouldn’t accept the real you?” asked Kim, causing others in the group to nod their heads.
“So I should just give up on something I love? That’s unfair. I mean I don’t love all the guys on the team but I love the game. And trust me, the athletic world is still like way homophobic.”
“Whatever,” said Kim in annoyance.
“Let’s not be dismissive, ok, Kim?” said Leanne. “Can any of us offer some constructive advice to Nick?”
“Oh my god!” exclaimed Kim. “Enough with the shrink talk! God, you over dramatize everything. But if you just tell people what the deal is, if you’re just honest then eventually they get over it and come around. And if they don’t, then fuck them. ‘Cause who needs them anyway?”
“You’ve heard nothing I’ve said,” sighed Nick.
“You’re not hearing!” countered Kim.
Shauna spoke up then, for the first time ever in this group. “If I told my family I was gay my brother would beat me up and my dad would kick me out of the house. It’s easier to live with secrets.” She could feel her cheeks getting hot as everyone looked at her. She couldn’t believe she’d admitted to being gay out loud. Not that this was necessarily an admission. It was more of a hypothetical, really.
“Exactly, you’re just doing what’s easy,” said Kim. “But it’s not about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s right.”
“I think for you it’s about what’s easier,” replied Shauna. “It’s easy for you to act like it’s no big deal. ‘Cause for you no one cares. You’ve never had anything bad happen to you. But it’s not so easy to say it’s no big deal when you’re bleeding on the floor ‘cause your father or brother just cracked your skull open or you’re sleeping outside in winter ‘cause you’re afraid to go home.”
They all stared at her but she wasn’t embarrassed anymore; she was angry. Screw Kim and everyone else who had it so easy. Leanne smiled at Shauna proudly and Nick smiled too, nodding his head in agreement. In fact, except for Kim they were all nodding and smiling. So this is what it was like when people didn’t hate you.