Pride. It’s a month out of the year where we reflect what being LGBTQ+ means and how we can not only uplift this community, but everyone else. The LGBTQ+ community has accomplished so much over the years, yes, but there’s still so much ground to cover. Very Good Light is celebrating Pride Month through our very own Pride Week where we delve into diverse voices that push the boundaries of what being LGBTQ+ in 2018 means.
Coming out always seemed a lot easier in movies, such as Love Simon or Call me By Your Name where loving white parents scooped up their gay children in their arms and never looked back.
For the rest of the world, coming out is the single hardest thing they will ever have to do.
My parents immigrated to the United States in 1979. I grew up in a gay community in Laguna Beach, California. From a young age, I knew deep down something was different about me. But it wasn’t until I turned 26 that I came to terms with my sexuality. It was difficult to accept, as I was still practicing my Muslim faith and felt the lines between my dual identities starting to blur.
In retrospect, it’s insane that I’ve been able to do so with an identity that most of the world seems to hate. I’m gay, Persian and Muslim.
None of my friends were altogether shocked when I came out to them because my flamboyant personality usually arrived five minutes before I did. The way I came out to my sister was priceless because I accidentally sent her an invite to a drag show in New York and she texted me back, “why are you sending me this?” She proceeded to ask me if I was exploring my sexuality, and lovingly gave me the space to come out to her. As she and the rest of my family began to get onboard, it catapulted me to the next level of understanding and ultimately, loving my own sexuality.
When you spend most of your life in a religious community that does not accept your true self it can be very demoralizing. I’ve been called “faggot” on the street, I’ve been told to kill myself, and yet I survived. In retrospect, it’s insane that I’ve been able to do so with an identity that most of the world seems to hate. I’m gay, Persian and Muslim. Let that sink in for a moment.
As I became more comfortable with being gay, I decided to explore and embrace my sexuality. Of course, I had to go to a club in West Hollywood, California, the epicenter of gays in Los Angeles. Like a rite of passage, I entered the club, strobe lights flashed and hairless go-go boys danced in tight speedos. As I looked down at my dad body and hairy chest, it became painfully obvious to me that I was average compared to what this establishment deemed was beautiful: white, tan, muscular.
“Will you blow me up if I don’t meet you for a drink?” to infer that I was terrorist.
When I came out, I thought I’d be promised an instant community of supporters. Instead, all I got was a group of cliquey, muscular men who were there to highlight my flaws. I’d quickly later realize the biggest problem with this community is the desire to gain conquests instead of find love. And this judgmental blend of racism and aggressive sexual energy isn’t exhibited anywhere more prominently than on Grindr.
I downloaded the app in hopes of meeting someone who could help me connect with my sexuality. Instead, I’d be slapped with racism and rejection. As I was finding my gay identity I unknowingly dimmed my light to please other people. One privileged white guy said, “you’re cute for a Persian guy.” Another said, “Will you blow me up if I don’t meet you for a drink?” to infer that I was terrorist. It was deeply painful.
There comes a moment in the life of a “baby gay” when enough is enough, and mine came in my mid-twenties. I was hooking up with a guy from Grindr and while we were together, I found him looking at the app, as if searching for something better. He proceeded to tell me that some guy was outside his apartment as if his bedroom was a doctor’s office. It crushed me because I felt like just a number to him, just a conquest. Nothing more. In that moment I had a rude awakening.
Was this what gay life would always be? A series of expectations, disappointments and judgment?
In that moment, I vowed to respect and love myself enough to never be in a loveless situation. I decided to come out again, but this time with love, passion, and as the motherfucking unicorn I know I am. Connecting with my inner unicorn is a daily battle, but fighting to connect is crucial. Because there will always be someone hotter, taller, funnier, and more successful than you, but it’s crucial that you know what you bring to the table. I know that I bring humor and an innate ability to help people be seen for who they truly are.
Find what it is inside you that makes you uniquely you, and expand on it until it becomes second nature. People mistakenly believe that confidence is a destination, when it’s more of a process and something you have to work at every day. Believe me, I have days when I’m connected to my inner unicorn and days when I cannot reach her. The more in touch you are with your inner unicorn the easier it will be to love yourself and come out of that damn closet.
It’s dusty in there, trust me it’s more colorful out here.
My Instagram, @comingoutwithlove has one sole purpose and that is to extract every inner unicorn from anyone who is soul searching and exploring who they are. There is something beautiful that happens when you lean into who you were meant to be. Rise from the ashes of your former self and prance towards your new self. I promise you who you see on the other side of coming out will be someone you’ll love so much and as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Lean into love. Wake up with love. And end your day with love.
While coming out is a choice for everyone, in my case, I realize how fortunate I’ve been through my experiences. Being Persian, gay and Muslim is such a privilege and I’m so proud to be who I am.
Amir Yassai was born to a whimsical Persian family in Laguna Beach, CA. Coming out for him was not as easy as everyone thinks it was for him. If he’s not styling in the streets in a kimono you can find him at a zoo or at the movies watching all the newest films. Find him @comingoutwithlove