First Person

Confessions Of A “Closet Case”

2380542I love a stupid Reddit/ BuzzFeed quiz more than anyone. Sure, I don’t need to answer 10 questions to know that I’m more “Mystique” than “Wolverine” and I’ll always be a “Thomas Barrow” from Downton Abbey, but a quiz on a friend’s Facebook feed popped up today that slowed my roll over my morning coffee.

“Which Gay Stereotype Are You?”

My friend had been deemed a Bromo presumably because he goes to the gym, drinks beer, buys lots of “bro tanks” or snapbacks (note to self: Google “what the hell is a snapback”), uses the word “bro” a lot, wants to be a hashtag-baller, and his hobby is working out.  

I decided to take the quiz for myself, because I’m over forty and I clearly need to know what stereotype I represent to my community.

To make things easy, I’ll just say:

When someone asks me if I’m gay, I say, “I’m a dude who likes dudes.”

What I like about men is “some of the coolest people I know are dudes.”

The phase I just most often is “hi.”

I dress simply: jeans and t-shirts.

I listen to whatever is on the radio.

Shopping is not my thing.

I’m not really into shopping.  (Apparently shopping is very important in identifying my stereotype.)

My dream job is “world-famous performer” (though, I strive to be working actor and independent filmmaker, but that was the closest option).

My hobby is writing.

And apparently I am a “Closet Case.”  

1175221_10203538469196818_7786501041311735299_nFrom the description: “We can’t tell you what gay stereotype you are, because you don’t even know what your sexuality is! There’s nothing wrong with that—figuring out your identity can take years—but you’re the only one who can do it. Taking a quiz like this is a great first step, but don’t take it too seriously. Keep checking out LGBT resources (*cough*LGBTeen*cough*) and maybe visit your school’s GSA, if they have one. The more you learn about the spectrum of identities out there (believe us, there’s plenty!), the easier it will be to find one that fits.”

I’m going to be 42 in November and believe me, I expected my answer to be “Bitter Old Queen,” or “Gay-Dead” but CLOSET CASE? Apparently I wasn’t alone.  Most of the other commenters were Closet Cases as well.

And yes, I know stupid surveys like this are meant to pass time on the internet when we should be doing something far more practical and productive things and yes, crystal clear from the description that this is aimed at teens.  But that makes this all the more horrifying!  

LBGTeen is basically telling kids if you’re “normal” (again, not a word anyone would use to describe me) and dress in jeans, listen to the radio and you don’t like shopping, there is something wrong with you. They tell you there are a “spectrum of identities out there.” So let’s look at a few.

Our lesbian sisters?  Your stereotype is “Big Lez.”  You only have one option, seeing as how you can only answer “I’m a lesbian” for most of the questions.  “OMG you’re a big lez. You are a girl who likes girls. There are a number of potential stereotypes you might fall into, but that is a whole other quiz.”

RuPaul-All-Stars-1024x1024Hear that girls? There are a number of potential stereotypes you “might” fall into. So, fingers crossed.

Like singing, using the word “fierce,” dressing fun and being sassy?  You’re a “Drag Queen.”  To quote:  “Maybe you’ve never worn make-up or performed before, but your outgoing personality, passion for queer culture, and love of all things fabulous make you just as fierce as any Drag Race contestant. Doing drag may be something you’ll want to try someday. But even if you never beat your face and vogue on stage, you’re going to be expressing yourself no matter what. And that’s the fiercest thing of all.”

If you were someone politically active and identified as trans or party of the IQA then you were a “Social Justice Warrior.  “You believe in equality for all and you have a clear vision of what that looks like — and what it will take to make that vision a reality. You’re probably heavily involved in your school’s GSA and active on social justice blogs. The work you do is amazing and you should keep it up, but also stop to consider if you’re getting too caught up in tearing down the system. It might seem like you don’t have time—and, okay, maybe we don’t—but it’s nice to chill out sometimes and just enjoy the world for what it is, even if it’s not perfect.”

queer-eye-for-the-straight-guy-22-gYou need to like fashion, love shopping, singing and dancing, think men “are hot,” use the work “werk,” dress in JT-inspired awesomeness, love Lana Del Rey’s “This is What Makes Us Girls,” say “YAAAASSSSS!” to be considered “Fab Gay.” A Fab Gay is “into theatre, fashion or pop music, you are the epitome of some of the most fun aspects of gay culture. You’re fun, fabulous and fierce—total GBF material. Though it can suck when people assume you’re gay just because of what you like, or try to reduce you down to a stereotype for their own amusement, you don’t mind. You’re too busy doing what you love and being yourself. Keep it up!”

I just threw up a little in my kale.

The “Bromo” result was even worse!  “You’re just a regular guy who likes other regular guys. You don’t really ‘get’ queer culture and tend to stay away from things like pride parades. And that’s fine. Queer culture and activism aren’t for everyone. But you should ask yourself if your aversion to the LGBT community is due to any shame or embarrassment you feel about your sexuality. It might not be, but you should still consider getting involved. You don’t have to become a stereotype—although the “bromosexual” is becoming an increasingly common breed of gay—but you should still support your community. Who knows? Maybe your presence in the community will challenge someone else’s misconceptions about gay people?”


I can’t speak for most of America, but all the “Bromos” I know in Atlanta are some of the most socially and politically active individuals in the city!  Two weeks ago, the entire community (hundreds of Bromos, Closet Cases, Fab Gays and Big Lezs) turned out for Joining Hearts Pool Party, which raised thousands of dollars for HIV/ AIDS Service Organizations in the city.

I didn’t go, because a) I don’t go to any party where it is announced a DJ will be spinning and b) I don’t do anything involving the words “pool party.”  That’s not because I’m a Closet Case.  It’s because I’m rapidly turning into an old person and I’m just a year or two away from having a shotgun on porch screaming, “get off my lawn!”

Chad Darnell
Chad Darnell

However, I’ve run six marathons to raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles, I’ve walked in about two dozen AIDS walks, I’m an award-winning LGBT filmmaker (plug: Birthday Cake is available for purchase now!) making movies about gay families, gay adoption, and gay icons (soon to be in production on the Joey Stefano biopic, X-Rated).  I’ve volunteered with Project Angel Food, Trevor Project, AID Atlanta, The NAMES Project… but apparently, I’m a Closet Case.

Our times are rapidly changing and we are obviously more than these half dozen stereotypes.  We are husbands and wives.  We are parents.  We are just trying to find good date material.  We’re doctors, lawyers, teachers, actors, janitors, baristas, bartenders, gogo boys, activists.

But I fear we are doing something terribly wrong, when sites like this promote that you can only be one of six groups.  We are missing a teaching moment for teens and whoever created this quiz at LGBTeen who think, this is the gay experience.  That we should all aspire to be a Fab Gay.  Aspire to the be the Gay Best Friend.

Just a little over twenty years ago when I began my career as an actor, the only roles available were drag queen, swishy waiter, or AIDS patient.  But the world sees us as more than those three stereotypes now.

What I love about our community is the diversity in our villages.  We are starting to see a brighter, hopeful future with the fall of DADT and the momentum of marriage equality.  Our media will continue to slap photos of Tom Daley in a speedo and “porn stars with cats” on the cover of a magazine or web sites to generate ad revenue, but our stories are starting to flesh out.  And as we tell our stories, the people who just a few years ago didn’t understand or accept us, realize we’re not these monsters they were led to believe.

Update:  A “snapback” is a hat.  Now get off my lawn, gurl!

Chad Darnell is an actor, writer and director who lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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