Kaleb McCane, Lewis County
I’m from Vanceburg, KY. I love it in Lewis County, but moving to Louisville was a great decision for me because getting out of the small town environment allowed me to grow as my own person and learn who I truly am. It also taught me how to think independently in many aspects of life. With that being said, growing up there was great.
I’m extremely close to my family, specifically my mom. I’m also still friends with some people I grew up with because with such a small amount of people in a county, you really learn everything about each other growing up. With Lewis County being such a small town full of traditionally conservative people, I was afraid to come out, but truthfully, everyone from back home that knows doesn’t treat me differently or feel differently.
To any person struggling to come into their own identity, I would say stay true to YOU and don’t let anyone interfere. There will always be people trying to knock you down no matter what. Gay, straight, male, female, black, white and everything in-between. But you have to think that at the end of the day, the main person you have is yourself, so if you’re not living up to your full potential of who and what you want to be, you’re only hurting yourself.
Honestly, how I identify doesn’t affect how I carry myself. I act the same now as I did when I identified as straight and was dating girls and when I first came out and everything about being gay was new to me.
I see a few major issues in the queer community – one of which is the standard at which gay men (I only specifically say gay men because that’s what I have seen the most of and have experience with. I know we aren’t the only ones who deal with this) hold themselves to when it comes to psychical appearance.
In the gay community, we are expected to always be dressed well, skinny, muscular, etc. I like to say I am straight skinny but gay fat. In our community if you don’t have a flat stomach or abs, you’re “fat” or “chunky” – which is absolutely ridiculous.
Our community is hated on and discriminated against enough as is, we don’t need to go after our own brothers and sisters. I just wish we could let one another live our best lives while supporting each other no matter what, not tear each other down.
Another big issue that I see and personally deal with myself is politics. I have met so many people that I have hit it off with as friends but then they figure out that I am a republican. Then the whole dynamic of our friendship changes. It almost seems as if they are unaccepting of me not only as a friend but as a member of the community.
I think this is ridiculous as well. Just because we don’t have the same political views/opinions doesn’t mean that I am a terrible person or have turned my back on my community. People’s opinions differ, which is okay. That’s what makes America and our democracy great.
I think if our community took a step back to reflect on ourselves and realize that being gay, lesbian, trans, pansexual, whatever, doesn’t mean that you have to fit into the stereotypical mold that is the LGBTQIA community. We want and expect to be accepted by everyone outside our community but can’t even be accepting of one another. How is that supposed to work? If people outside of our community see us turning on each other and not respecting each other, why would they feel the need/want to respect and accept us?
To answer whether or not I feel excluded from the mainstream queer community, I guess I would have to say I can say both yes and no. No, because I do live up to the stereotypical queer standards; take that as you will. As far as politically, I do somewhat feel excluded. I was raised in a very conservative family and even after moving and learning my own political stance, I still consider myself a proud Libertarian-Republican. Obviously, on some social issues – like gay marriage – I tend to go more towards the center-left, but I still stick to most conservative beliefs. It actually has caused multiple spats between me and friends in the queer community. One of the main arguments I hear is that republicans don’t agree with my lifestyle, but I like to remind them that there are other gay republicans/conservatives out there and that there are many other components in politics besides gay marriage that typically take priority.
I feel my best – which I would describe as safe, happy and comfortable – when I am with my friends, loved ones, and other members of the queer community. Whether it is hanging out at home, going out to the bars, social events like pride, etc. I always feel my best when I am with these people.
I can’t really pinpoint one person who I can say influenced me to life the life I live now. My mother is and always has been my biggest supporter in life. She’s always pushed me to do and be my best. She has always been there for me and encouraged me to chase my dreams, whatever they were. So in part, I can say she is one of the people who have made the biggest impact. But there has also been other people along the way who have done the same. My English teacher/drama club director was basically my second mother during all four years of high school, friends and fraternity brothers I made when I moved to Louisville all helped me realize and come to terms with who I really am and who I want to be. So, all-in-all, many people in my short 22, almost 23, years of life have influenced me to live the life I live today.