ef·fem·i·nate| \ ə-ˈfe-mə-nət : having feminine qualities untypical of a man : not manly in appearance or manner
I glare at him with all my might. The way he's reacting is wrong in so many ways, and I can't fathom how much I want to punch his face. Between laughs, he glances at me and shuts up.
"Okay, okay! I'm sorry, Yash," he says, patting my knee, "I shouldn't have laughed like that; I know it's wrong. But when you said that you're gay, I..." He pauses.
"What?!" I exclaim, exasperated. He's my best friend, and he laughed when I came out? He's the first person I told that I'm gay, and it seems like he doesn't even acknowledge that.
"Okay, enough," he says, a laugh erupting yet again. "I would have taken this joke in stride, but with Pride month, I can't help but think you're serious!"
I look at him in the sternest look I could muster.
"Oh, you are serious," he says in a low voice, averting his eyes and discreetly scooting away from me. I wait for him to react, but he keeps his head turned away from me, his eyes narrowing in deep thought.
"Say something!" I speak in a few moments, shattering the fragile silence enveloping us.
"It's not a confession to me, right? I mean, you don't..." he pauses, clenching his jaw, "you don't like me, right?" he asks me, staring at me like I have betrayed him in the worst possible way.
"It's not, Sameer. Absolutely not. But you say it as if it was the worst thing in the world!" I tell him, seeking an explanation for his reaction.
"Look," he clears his throat, shifting towards me, ready to preach, "I have known you for twelve years. We have grown up together; I have seen you become the man you are today. I know about the girls that liked you for who you are. I mean, look at you! You are the jock of the school, and with the football, you seem like the stereotypical..." he pauses and sighs, lowering his eyes.
"I get it, you know? With Pride Month, people are coming out of their closets, all of the social media is plastered with rainbows, it makes you doubt your identity. You have misunderstood yourself, Yash. I have known you since you were a kid, and I know you can't be gay. It's a confusing world, Yash, but you're straight..."
"Seriously, Sam?! So, every gay guy should be effeminate, huh? If I was lean and nerdy, would that make you believe I'm gay?! If I swayed my hips when I walked, would that make me gay? And how can you decide my sexuality? I know that I'm not straight..." I huff. I lashed out at him, inwardly pleading him to say that he accepted me. That this whole speech he gave was a joke.
The world has reinforced the stereotypes so much, that gay people have been given an appearance. A stereotype that they need to abide by. God forbid someone fits that stereotype if they're straight, and they are labeled as gay. It's bad on both sides of the coin, and it's getting worse.
"He doesn't look gay!"
"She can't like girls; look at her! She's so girly!"
"I think he's gay. He acts so girlishly."
Appearance and behavior don't define sexuality.
I look at my best friend sitting beside me on the park bench, both his hands conjoined in a fist as his foot anxiously taps the floor. "Hey, I shouldn't have lashed out like that. I just don't want my sexuality to define me, you know? I can be masculine and still like men. The way I look and behave doesn't need to establish whom I like. I want you to understand and support me. I'm still the Yash who's your best friend; my sexuality doesn't change that."
"It does! Can't you see?!" he shouts, getting up from the bench. The tree behind us sways wildly as a sudden wind whooshes past us. "You need to get yourself sorted out, Yash. I c-I can't be your friend if you're...you're gay," he says as if gay was the worst word in the dictionary. "I assure you: this is all in your head," he continues, turning around and walking away.
Dark clouds gather overhead, the wind getting abnormally chilly as I anticipate a storm. Sameer doesn't turn around as he leaves the park, and my head hangs low as a raindrop hits my foot.