When it comes to things I decide to write about and share, I've received the critique not often but a few times that all I can seem to talk about are the "gay issues", or things related to me being gay. Furthermore I'm labeled a political activist with a gay agenda by somehow sharing my thoughts and related articles on such issues. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing to be seen as such so I don't take it as an insult but I also don't believe that to be necessarily true. How I see it is that I'm a human sharing human emotions and experiences for the sole purpose of being understood. There's nothing else hidden behind my intentions.
Anyone who can see where I'm coming from or has been in a similar situation I'm sure can see the benefit to being open and vocal of such things. I believe the more voices who speak up freely, the better off we are. And being gay really has become just one of the many parts to who I am. After all is said and done, I really see myself for me, which is without labels, and that's the type of living I would hope for for everyone.
I find myself really melancholy when I think about how it took nearly my 26 years of life for me to finally come out of the closet. 26 years worth of bottled up feelings of being self conscious, of active pretending to being somebody else, of lying regarding who I was and what I did. 26 years of hatred for myself because I felt like I could never measure up and be enough, 26 years of depression that I would never ever be normal. 26 years where I belittled myself, my thoughts and feelings above the one's I was told. 26 years of daily anxiety that can't really ever be fully conceptualized without living it.
Those feelings as unhealthy and detrimental as they are were very real to me, which is why I place so much emphasis on them. I look back and still can feel to an extent how that version of myself felt. I honestly never thought during the majority of that time, not even once, that coming out was ever a viable option. Fear kept me out of the closet for so long and it's fear that keeps anyone who may be in it now there. I saw myself going to the grave before ever sharing anything. I've often surprised people with these feelings that I share now from my past; outwardly I may have appeared to have self confidence, but inwardly it was a kaleidoscope of confusion. And I have to believe if it was like that for me, it must be like that for others.
I want it said to those who haven't known me personally, that I am SO different now than I used to be. I have my fears and insecurities, but being gay is no longer one of them. And I'm so glad to be where I am. I'm working on the rest (including my fear that I'll die if I don't eat at least one scoop of ice cream every day) but I've learned that change is possible.
Perhaps the thing that caused me greatest stress above all, was concerning God. I was as true believing a Mormon as anyone else out there. And I spent so much of my unaccounted for thoughts worrying about how I would stand before God, and what I would say, and what would happen to me. I feared the worst. I constantly subconsciously would try and rationalize with myself thinking something to the extent that "if I ask God enough times on my own for forgiveness and I do all I possibly can to be obedient with this one thing still.... maybe God will see my intentions and excuse me". I also clinged to any and all compliments and praise, hoping that if this person thought that of me, maybe it's true, and if it's true, then maybe God thinks that also. Oh the countless prayers I offered that turned to cryings that lasted all night, fearing rejection from God, pleading to Him for forgiveness... for worth. And hope.
It's hard for me not to speak of such issues without getting tearful. It's a harrowing experience to live thinking God doesn't love you and that you are evil as you are, so as to hide away and pretend. It's self punishment that SHOULD NOT BE.
I remember one experience I had while at BYU, where I as actively pursuing a girl to date. She was beautiful, outgoing, social and good natured. She also wasn't someone I would normally go out with, being that she wasn't a size 1 model with perfect legs, but I liked her. We had been on a few dates and had interactions through a period of a couple months when out of nowhere she stopped responding to any of my messages. I did my best to put on my superman charm with sending flowers, leaving cute messages and befriending her friends, but nothing seemed to be getting any kind of response. When we finally got together to talk about it, she got the courage to tell me how she had been feeling, which was that I was "too good to be true". I know sometimes that phrase is used as a cop out for someone to not date someone, but in this instance it was sincere (so I found out at least a few months later). And in being "too good to be true" it meant she was afraid that I wasn't being real and that maybe there was something else to me that might not make me such a "perfect" person. It reminded me of something a girl in high school told me, after things had ended, where it was "what I was" that she liked, not "who I was".
I was devastated by that preposition. I hate those words now even. No one should ever ever ever be told they are "too perfect" or "too good to be true". Please don't say that. If you're going to tell them anything tell them they're just not right for you and move on. Whenever I've heard those words, all it's ever caused me to do is fear that my good efforts aren't good enough, and that who I really am, isn't a person worthy of loving.
I heard a quote once that went "Once you become fearless, life becomes limitless".
What I know is from my experiences, is that the more I face the fears I have, the more I find how okay life really is. The more ok I find myself to be. I realize as much as anyone It takes so much strength to come out of the closest. The closet may not be being gay, but it may be something that's happened to you in your past you feel embarrassed by, or something you like to do that others you love and know don't. It may also be that you're struggling with something but don't want others to appear you as weak or stupid or weird. I just want it known that whatever it is, you can face it. Don't waste anymore of your life in fear. You gain nothing and do no good living with it. The grass on the other side of fear really is so much greener. The things you can accomplish, the help you can give, the person you could be, without any fear, really it's.... limitless.
I believe in a world where people aren't motivated by fear but by love. And if all else, I'm here to be that one person who will believe in you and love you no matter what. Life is best lived authentically, and that's the way it should be.