Wednesday, June 6, 2007
During the drive to work this morning, I found myself contemplating what I should post today. For several days now, I have been completely stumped as to what I can write that would prove meaningful and relevant and just could not seem to come up with anything substantive. This blog was originally meant to serve as a venue for documenting my life since coming out. Suddenly, I came to the realization that, while I have indeed come out to my friends and have mentioned it from time to time in this space, that I have yet to tell the full story here. It occurs to me that the coming out moment, if you will, sometimes proves anticlimactic in a gay man's life. Rather than that space in time, when the words are blurted out, what I find more fascinating is the evolution of a person which brings him face-to-face with himself. That is sort of what I intend to do here. To finally commit to words who I have discovered I have become and how I got here. For my friends reading this, you can skip right over it as you have heard most of this before at some point in time. It appears that I have a few readers who occasionally stop by and visit my little corner of the world here. I welcome any and all comments because it makes me feel connected to a larger community. Believe me, it is nice to know that I'm not all alone out there. I just wish ya'll lived in Memphis so I could get to know you and have you in my life. I don't know - I think this entry is really for me, most of all. I hope it will force me to look inward - where I've come from. You know what they say...you don't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been.
So, here goes. I'm born -- no, no I wont do that to you. I am currently a 38 year old man (some people like to refer to this as middle-aged. I do not feel middle-aged and I do not like to be told that -- but that is another post). I was born and have lived in Memphis, Tennessee for most of my life. I am an only child and am thankful to say that I had a good childhood. But, like everyone else, it was flawed and it has only been in the past few years that I have begun discovering exactly what those flaws were and how to come to terms with them. I was very, very fortunate to have parents that loved me and put my needs ahead of their own. The sacrificed financially to send me to a good private school and following that, paid for college. I guess to some extent, I would fall into a pretty stereotypical home environment for a child with gay tendencies: domineering mother and passive father. I have always had a much closer relationship with my dad than I do with my mom. To date, I have chosen not to come out to them. Considering where they come from in life, I just don't think that, at the end of the day, anything beneficial would be gained from my disclosure. Who knows, maybe someday...
I suppose it was elementary school when I began to realize that I was "different". "Different was an abstract notion at the time. My little mind had no way of grasping just what "different" would eventually morph into. I noticed a same sex attraction from very early on. The first one I can actually recall was that I had a crush on the Six Million Dollar Man. I would use every excuse in the book to stay home from church on Sunday nights (more on that in a bit), but it rarely worked. The memory is still just as crisp today. The feeling in my stomach every time Col. Steve Austin jumped onto the screen with that beautiful bionic body, praying he would take his shirt off (I have since come to learn that I am a chest man). But however young I was, I was not stupid. I had absolutely no concept of what homosexuality was at the time, but something told me that my youthful infatuation with the Six Million Dollar Man somehow wasn't right. But there was no one around to explain it to me so I endured these feelings in silence.
The school years rolled along relatively easily. Never one to get into trouble, I was considered a full-fledged stick-in-the-mud. I guess in school I had a pretty low self-esteem due to the fact that I was generally considered a sissy. Not being very into sports in a school that was athletically driven can be somewhat problematic. This preoccupation with sports reflects and reinforces society's image of what a man should be -- and I found myself rapidly falling short.
Add to that the fact that I attended a fundamentalist, hell-fire and brimstone Southern Baptist church (just so you'll know, I am currently a Recovering Baptist). Now this is where the fun starts...I mean, the guilt and shame. Admitting to myself that I might be gay was enough, in and of itself, to drive someone to drink (wait...I do) but to attempt to reconcile the truth about who you really are with an intolerant faith pushes everything right off the chart. It has only been recently that I have questioned what I have been taught over the years. Keep in mind, I didn't say I questioned God - just what I have been taught about him. It has been a HUGE leap for me to believe that possibly, what I have been taught has not been all that correct. Remember, I'm coming from an ideology that says if you question anything at all, you are the wrong one, to be condemned. Trust me when I say that a lifetime of that can fuck with your head, big-time. Since coming out, and I might add, growing up, I fully embrace the fact that you can ask questions. I believe that is what God wants of us.
Anyway, fast forward several years -- college was the absolute best time of my life. Being a late bloomer, I blossomed socially in college. Had a blast - wouldn't trade it for the world. Fast forward a few more years and I am a single young man watching every one of his friends pair off and get married. I knew I was different, but I wanted so desperately to fit in that I prayed to God to make me un-gay and send me a girl to marry. I remember being extremely pissed off at God for not allowing that to happen. It's only now, with hindsight, along with some insight, that I can say I'm truly thankful that God did not give in to my self-destructive, ignorant wishes, that maybe He has something better for me.
Which bring us to the present. I will not bore you with all the minute details of how I came out to each person. That's secondary to the fact that for once in my life I stood up and acted like a man. A gay man. These past few months have been the happiest of my life, not to mention much less stressful. Granted, I haven't told everyone about me, just the people around me that I love and care about. Now, I don't have to worry about what someone else might think or "getting caught" or what someone will say to someone else (an affliction common to southern towns). A curtain has been raised on a second act -- one which I intend to enjoy fully. I can finally relax and be the man I was meant to be and hopefully find someone who will want to be with that kind of man. So that's pretty much it. This is who I am. Thanks for taking the time to read it.