When someone would ask me if I were gay, I would deflect the question and change the subject or just flat out deny it. It was easier that way because they were asked so confrontationally and mockingly. How can I explain to others that part of me which I didn’t understand myself?
I still don’t, which is my fault. For one thing, I’ve tried not to think about it because maybe that way it wouldn’t be an issue. Look how well that turned out! I justified this repression by saying it wasn’t anyone’s business yet the more I ignored it the more of an issue it became- at least, for me.
I am gay. That may be the least surprising news you’ll ever hear in your life but I am. One of the things that worried me about coming out was suddenly people will think differently of me, that they’ll have me figured out based on stereotypes and clichés of what gay means to them. There may have been signs but I don’t think it’s fair to lump people into a category based on things like that. I’ll admit I do that too, which probably made it even harder for me to come to terms with this part of me.
I still don’t have any more answers than I did before. I’m still not comfortable talking about this in public, in person. It is at least a step in the right direction towards that “most authentic and best life possible” I envision for myself- and others.
-excerpt, July 2, 2012
Today is the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. It’s still relevant and important that people have a sense of safe place and community to be who they are.
But it’s sometimes easier said than done because people’s attitudes and reactions are unpredictable. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by understanding and accepting people. If I knew that was the outcome I was going to get, I would have been more understanding and accepting of myself.
Here’s a poem I wrote a decade ago:
THE REAL ME
What if I told you I’m not who I seem to be
That I’m just playing a part to make you happy
It’s like something inside me wants to be set free
To break through the lies and reveal the real me
But confusion sets in and I don’t know what to do
The last thing I want is to disappoint you
I’m not even sure that I know who I’ll turn out to be
But I hope no matter what I choose you’ll be proud of me
The secret seems so hard to keep it from you now
The burden of it all is just breaking me down
I’m sure you must have had glimpses of who I really was
And I’m kind of glad you stifled your desire to just ask
Because I probably wouldn’t have been honest to you or myself
When I had decided to just keep pretending rather than tell
I hope you understand the inner conflicts I’ve been struggling with
When I’ll want what I want and then be immersed in guilt
But I guess it’s finally time for me to stop living a lie
And just hope you’ll still like who I really am inside
The world can seem like a lonely place when you feel different from others. Books help us feel less isolated. When we find the right book, we can identify with the character and their situation. Somehow it seems a writer has discovered all our dreams and fears and woven a story around them. Maybe it’ll give the reader the assurance they aren’t alone and the courage to be who they are by coming out.
One such book that might help those who are struggling with their sexuality or coming out is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Also, by reading a whole variety of books, we become more accepting of others and their differences. It makes me smile to think that books have a capability to do these things and more.