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"This is something I've wanted to say for a long time....I'm gay"
I hold down the like button to change it into a heart. A smile plays on my often resting-bitch-face as I poise my fingers over the keyboard, ready to comment. I think back to when this was me in their shoes; a nervous 15-year-old who was so concerned with what the world might think of me. I wonder if I should comment or private message, whether they'd like to come for a drink and chat. I begin to type...and then I remember.
I was shocked to see not one but THREE posts on my Facebook where "friends" pretended they were "coming out" for "banter" (please read the words in quotation marks with as much sarcasm as I'm saying them right now).
"Honestly," I fumed, angrily downing my soya cappuccino, "do they have NO respect for the courage you need to come out? How terrifying the idea of not being accepted by those you love is? I'm completely VEXED right now." My friend, cowering behind a panini, nodded as he munched. I slumped back, defeated, cradling my empty cup. "Just ignore it?" my friend suggested weakly, evidently done with my explosive rant over something most people would see as menial.
I tried so hard to take this advice, but two AM saw me bundled up in a blanket like an angry burrito, my fingers creating a new act for the musical "Stomp" with their vigorous tapping on the keys of my laptop.
Why did this annoy me so much? It happens EVERY year without fail. And in all honesty, not a week goes by without me being subject to some kind of casual homophobia being palmed off as "banter." Before you start...yes, I can take a joke. As they come, I'm usually the one roasting on the group chat. And yes, I constantly joke and make light of my sexuality. But I feel I can, because it's me. It's MY sexuality, that it's taken me years to accept and feel comfortable in. It's not someone else's to slander. As my friend so rightly said "anyone who thinks that coming out is a joke are by definition implying that they think the idea of being gay is funny. F**k those people"
I think the reason why this year's April Fool's antics worked me up into angry-burrito-frenzy mode is because I thought things really had changed. What with Hayley Kiyoko killing the game with her anti-patriarchy, pro LGBTQ+ brilliance, with Twitter and Instagram adopting so many supportive trends and impactful posts, with key influencers all over the globe showing their support for the community. I think it's all too easy to forget that many people still have some kind of an issue with love that isn't heteronormative. Every year I hope that more will change, but change is so frustratingly slow.
So I really do hope that 2018 really is 20Gayteen, with young people becoming confident that they'll be accepted whoever they are and whoever they love. I feel social media is paving the way to that conclusion, but obviously there are negatives as regards trolls that are able to comment (a topic for another day, perhaps). I feel every time coming out is used as an April Fool's stunt, another young person is inclined to believe that being gay is a joke; that it's something you should only laugh about. God forbid if you actually were.
Finally a notice for those people who made posts pretending they were gay as a 1st of April stunt:
OTHER, BETTER APRIL FOOL'S DAY ACTIVITIES THAN FAKE COMING-OUT:
- Filling your room with plastic balls, tilting your bed at an angle and creating your own soft play
- Riding a donkey into a club (very Jesus-esque and in keeping with the season) and proclaiming you are off to Sesh-lehem
- Getting all your friends involved with letting a certain, avocado obsessed friend know that there's a worldwide epidemic and the avocado in your fruit bowl is the only one left in existence
- Walking out of a public toilet looking very confused and pretending you have arrived from the future (team this by looking very deeply into someone's eyes and telling them a fortune about their love life)
- Sitting in a white room
- Watching paint dry
- Slowly pouring water over your MacBook
- Literally anything except making jokes about oppression
- April Fool's Day stopped being funny when KFC did the vegan burger stunt. Just stop already and go back to making your sub-par dad jokes