Lilac Pajamas and Lady Gaga Fans This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I never had much trouble coming out as gay. Aside from the standard tearful confessions and casual homophobia, coming out was easy. Coming to terms with the nature of my sexuality was a process that happened gradually, and by the time I was ready to reveal my gayness it was akin to ripping off a particularly pesky band-aid. It wasn’t coming out that I struggled with. It was what came after.

At my school, there’s a particular brand of homosexual. Starbucks in hand, they flounce to class in Ugg boots and designer jeans, pop music perpetually blaring out of one earphone. I used to have a name for them: the Lady Gaga Adherents, named for their devotion to the ubiquitous idol.

Shortly after coming out, I made it my life’s work to distance myself from these walking stereotypes. Don’t act too gay. Walk with your eyes down, and keep those wrists rigid. Don’t get overexcited or your voice will sound effeminate – God knows we can’t have that.

I so devoted myself to the dubious quest of appearing “straight” that it felt like my entire life was playing out on a grand stage and I was just an actor, with lines to memorize and scenes to rehearse with no deviations allowed.

I would wake up, dress in sweatpants and an drab T-shirt in an attempt to make myself as unostentatious as possible. I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t “that kind” of gay.

I’m not sure what pushed me over the edge. It wasn’t some earth-shattering revelation or euphoric epiphany, my face raised to the sky to receive the blessings of Beyoncé. Perhaps it was my ever-growing apathy toward school, or even the simple passage of time. Regardless, if I had to pinpoint the moment I decided to royally stick it to my meticulously crafted unflamboyance, it would be the day I wore lilac pajamas to school. They were my mom’s, and a grin split my face the second I pulled the drawstring tight. That day I held my head high and silently dared anyone to comment.

These days, pajamas are not an uncommon occurrence for me. Neither are fuzzy slippers, a pumpkin spice latté, or Nicki Minaj at full volume. I look back on how I allowed my own internalized homophobia to control what I presented to the world, and I wish I could tell my former self that to be gay and maintain an intellectual identity are in no way mutually exclusive. No overcompensation necessary.

In spite of society’s implications, gayness and flighty superficiality are not inherently correlated. Yes, these days I tend to talk however suits my fancy, listen to whatever music I enjoy, and wear exactly what I feel like. And sometimes that even includes sweatpants and a brown T-shirt.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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