On Being An Extroverted Gay Nerd
There are an awful lot of categories in the title of this article and I want to elaborate on why this precise description is necessary… There is so much beauty in accuracy, it gets the networks of neurons in my brain very excited. But think about it: extroverted and nerdy, that seems like a weird combination. Aren’t nerds supposed to be introverts by, um, nature?
Being gay doesn’t help either. This said, have you ever tried it? It’s great. Like these weird food combinations you would never expect to go well together (bacon and banana for example – god, that stuff is good). As a part-time extrovert, people assume I must have a certain level of social skills, when actually the truth is — nope. That’s when my nerd self comes through and my social awkwardness reaches an obscene level. It’s the pressure of wanting to function like a normal person, but I’ve forgotten my glasses at home. Speaking of which, glasses would be the perfect signifier. A quick push up the nose and people know: OK, sure thing. He’s a nerd. Weird but cute. Like when I meet someone on the street (not a place where I wear my reading glasses), get really excited (read: extroverted) and say “Hi, how are you?” What do people say then?
I want to elaborate on the book I have in the pocket of my jacket, but do normal people care? I don’t think so. It’s a good book (they usually are these days, I have to say): Alice Miller’s Drama Of The Gifted Child, which talks about being gifted – effectively highly sensitive – and how growing up causes trauma. Great read, highly recommended.
On the other hand, when I’m with nerds, they seem to think that each little chunk of extroversion is a compromise on nerd-credibility, or should I say: smartness? How can you know things and at the same time socialize? Let’s return to the example of running into someone on the street. If a class A nerd comes along my way and I say my enthusiastic “Hi”, we’re both trapped in a vortex of weirdness. I’ll elaborate on my book and the look on the nerd’s face seems to say “I don’t think you actually read Alice Miller’s book… I remember it differently.”
High levels of sensitivity, which is what nerdiness comes down to for me, that receptiveness, can also go along with extroversion. I need to be around people sometimes and tell them about the things I found out about the world. Like Alice Miller, who resided in the pocket of my jacket. Then I go back to the cave and find out more intricate details about the universe.
Did I mention that being gay doesn’t help? As a gay nerd, you’re a minority within a minority. It’s just that I tend to look for a passion for details, for weirdness and that need to dive deeper in other people. That’s why it took me a while to find friends. That’s why I hold my friend, who is a self-proclaimed disco nerd, so close to my heart. He knows his divas, despite the hype about disco music being long past. That’s what nerds do. We archive cultural history in our brains, our shelves and our hard drives. And some of us like to suck cock, too.
Of course there is a spectrum for everything. And the binary system of intro- and extroversion is questionable in itself, I would say. No science behind this though, just my own lived experience on the edge of two extremes, at least when we look at it as something static. I have days when I really need to get out there and conquer the world. You’ll find me on the streets of Berlin, taking long walks with my dog, smiling at unfamiliar faces and maybe even talking to strangers. Then there are other days when I really need to stay on my couch and conquer that book I’ve found at a flea market during one of my strolls. Being a book nerd, that’s my territory. Don’t get me started on extroverted gay book nerds here, because that’s one particular island that I think is sparsely populated.