I was somewhere in between being who they needed me to be and who I was; what made them comfortable and what made me feel loved.
For as long as I can remember, I was caught in this tug-of-war. The tension, the pain in all of this did not come from what was real, but what was imagined. Perceptions, fears, and rumors shaped much of my childhood. There was a split in who I thought I was and who I was thought to be.
In short, I fought to be straight, to prove to the world, to my family that there is nothing wrong with me. I am normal.
For most of my life, there seemed to be a neon marquee that followed me around, announcing to everyone, “HEY LOOK OVER HERE, THIS GUY IS GAY!”
The older I became, the brighter these lights flashed. If you’d asked me then if I were gay, my answer would have been no, and it was the truth. I was not attracted to guys.
But that wasn’t enough. Nothing I could ever do was enough.
To this day the lights still flash, and I don’t know how to turn them off.
As time progressed, I did grow attracted to guys — but if you ask me today if I am gay, I will say no, and it’s still the truth. I am attracted to guys, but I know who I am: I cling to who I was.
Something happened in those transitional years of adolescence, and I have spent my entire life trying to figure out what happened. I did not grow up homosexual, nor did I experience unexplained desires to be with the same sex.
What I do remember are the questions, the most recurring being: why am I so different? I believe that much of my attraction stems from shame.
I was taught to hate myself.
Much of this time from my life feels like a dream. As I close my eyes and walk through the hall to my bedroom, I feel only memories of pain: memories of wanting to die or get kidnapped, whatever would set me free. Memories of a God who, in theory, was a Savior who could if He wanted rescue me from the life I was forced to live.
Fake hope, fake smiles, fake laughter, fake family, fake Christianity.
Soon I began to envy my straight male friends and strangers and altogether reject myself. There was not one good thing about me. I had become who they said I was all along.
When you grow up ashamed of yourself, you become well-versed at two things:
Hiding and faking.
Do you also wrestle with self-hate and shame? Have you ever hid yourself from others? Do you ever worry about appearing too “gay-acting” or not “straight enough”?
* Photo courtesy of nichephoto, Creative Commons.