**Note: this essay was written in 2012, I no longer identify under the label “gay”. The word has too many restrictions, connotations, stereotypes and unintended meanings.
July 2, 2012
It is fundamentally important to understand that people choose their religious beliefs or choose to believe nothing. And like any other choice human’s make, it is fair and reasonable to draw those choices into question, evaluation and possibly scrutiny. Of what’s covered under the federal anti-discrimination law, such as gender, race, national origins, or disability; religion is the only one that is derived from choice.
Orientation, though it is attacked as such, is not a choice. Human’s don’t reach young adulthood and take a retreat to decide what orientation they are. They don’t take lessons or study courses to figure out who they are attracted to. You are not born straight and then one day just decide to be gay because you think it might be fun and the opposite is true.
When the hormonal reaction of puberty changes the chemical make-up of your brain, you sexually become aware of who attracts you. For a number of people, both genders attract you. You don’t make a conscious choice as if you are picking out what you want for lunch. However, I think it’s fully possible that some young people may not be fully able to understand their feelings and may be misguided or confused. This is a natural part of youth, to go through the process of understanding yourself.
I find it immensely offensive and appalling that people criticize and torment youth and adults who realize that they are gay. Understanding that you are something other than what’s deemed socially normal is incredibly difficult to go through, deal with and generally accept about yourself. Having others physically or emotionally punish you for it, drastically impedes your ability to emotionally grow, understand yourself and live out your daily life.
When faced with such a daunting task, particularly young and generally inexperienced people encounter obstacles that force them to question themselves and the environment in which they exist. Many take up negative images of themselves when forced to bear so much ridicule and judgment, particularly religiously condemning judgment. All because of something they cannot change about themselves, even if they wanted to.
Of this I know. I know it personally. I have experienced it, felt the harsh reality of peoples ill-thought words and ignorant beliefs. When I see it happen to other young people or people of the LGBT, I feel it all over again. I am empathetic to their grief because I know how it feels and no one should ever have to feel that way…
When you’re just a kid and adults tell you that being gay is a sin, that it’s against the teachings of your God and your religion, you are shaken. You are confused and afraid. You feel wrong, you feel sick, you feel guilty as though you’ve done something wrong and yet you’ve done nothing, but be yourself.
You try to hide it, that part of you that’s an important piece of who you are. You push it down deep and try to keep it secret so that no one sees it. You learn how to fake things, to do things that prevent others from knowing the truth. You lie and you pretend, just so that no one will hate you, laugh at you or make you feel bad about yourself.
You struggle every day to keep a part of you caged up. Scared to death that someone might figure it out. Scared to death that you won’t be accepted, that no one will ever love you because adults tell you that your religion says that gay people are bad. You become convinced they are right because you don’t know any better. You look in the mirror and you think that you are bad. Even though you never made the choice, you are forced to live with the consequences of other people’s ignorance.
When you go home after school you withdraw inside yourself. You have so many thoughts that you try to fight. You tell your thoughts to go away, you fight against them. You tell yourself that the thoughts are bad and wrong, that you are wrong for being attracted to other boys.
At eleven years old you find a place to hide and cry, you cry out of anger, out of shame, you cry out and ask God why you like other boys and not girls, you cry because you don’t want to be afraid anymore, you cry because you don’t want people to hate you for having feelings you can’t stop. You cry because you don’t know what else to do.
You wipe away your tears and you carry on. You smile and you laugh because you don’t want anyone to know something is wrong with you. You try to hide the fact that you are different the best that a kid can.
By the time you are sixteen you have become someone that isn’t you. You don’t even know who you are. You are so messed up from pretending to be someone else. You are emotional, you’re angry, you’re lost, you’re withdrawn and quiet, you’re still afraid and still in hiding.
You don’t even want to talk to people in fear they may discover you’re gay. You don’t try to make friends because it’s too risky. You still cry when no one is around and you try to be by yourself as often as you can. You learn to write because words set you free, your bleeding heart fills up pages with sadness, self-hatred, loneliness, a blinding and painful misery you never deserved. A choice you never made.
You hear people still saying bad things about gay people, use it as a slur to make fun of people. Sometimes you even join in just so no one notices you are gay. In time, you start to blame other gay people for your suffering. You blame them because they are open, you blame them for being happy, you hate them.
Eventually, you fall to pieces and you hate yourself more than anyone else. You hate being alive. You hate that your heart flutters when you see a guy that you like. You hate yourself for wanting to be loved by them. To just be noticed.
You begin to hate human contact. You don’t want people to touch you, to hug you. You don’t want to talk to anyone. Deep down, you want all of it, but you won’t allow yourself to have any of it. You don’t deserve it. You are filth, you are dirty, sinful, an abomination, you are depraved. You are gay.
The pain consumes you. The sun stops shining, darkness embraces you. Your heart is dying and human contact evades you. You are falling down into a hole where no one can help you. Not that you expect anyone to want to.
You start physically hurting yourself to see if you can still feel. You think about dying because you don’t want to hurt anymore. You can’t stand to look at yourself anymore. You keep hiding this from everyone, but you don’t think you can hang on anymore.
You make the choice to kill yourself. You decide to poison yourself. You write a letter to your parents, lay it on their bed. You walk outside for what you believe to be the last time. You wish it didn’t have to be this way. You wish that someone could love you for who you are. You wish that you could love. You are sixteen years old.
But you don’t die. No, you don’t kill yourself because you are too afraid to die. You want to live so you fight on. Alone and still scared, you fight on.
Three years later you find yourself at the end again. Unwilling to accept yourself because you think no one else will, you realize that death will come easier this time. You’re tired of everything. Tired of the pain, tired of lies, tired of hating yourself. Tired of thinking of ways to kill yourself, tired of wanting to drive your truck off the road every morning on your way to work. You decide that a gun will work best.
Your plans change when people intervene. Your life changes and they help you save yourself from things they do not yet understand. You are nineteen years old.
Three years pass again and you decide that you have nothing more to lose. You decide to accept yourself. That living as you is worth more than dying as someone you were never supposed to be. You realize that you get to decide who and what you are. That being gay doesn’t make you sinful, dirty, wrong or a terrible person. It just means those judgmental people are ignorant bastards. Finally, at age 22 your life begins and you get to love and be loved, you get to live your life as you.
This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: