To quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” And what I am, what I always have been, and what I shall always be, is gay.
I became aware I was “different” at about the age of five, though it wasn’t until considerably later that I found this “difference” had a word: “homosexual.” It’s generally accepted that one’s sexual orientation is only one part of who one is. But for me, I cannot think of a single area of my life that is not colored by my being gay.
It has been a life-long divisive issue between me and the rest of the world, and it is rightly or wrongly the primary reason I am who I am. The world into which I was born is not the world of today.
Childhood is difficult for anyone. Every human must struggle to find his/her way through a maze of what is expected of him/her, what is acceptable and what is not. All children are impressionable, and a gay child soon learns not only that what is normal for him or her is not normal for most other people, but that who he/she is violates many of the rules he is expected to follow.
I was raised being made acutely aware that I did not belong; that as far as society was concerned I was something to be despised and avoided. (And, I must confess, I still occasionally have to struggle not to show the same contempt for heterosexuality that was shown for me while I was growing up.) My experiences with religion, limited as they were, made it clear that even God thought I was an “abomination,” to which I responded by becoming an agnostic. If God didn’t believe in me, how could I believe in him?
And the worst thing for a gay child is to assume he is totally alone in his feelings. There is nothing worse for any child than being rejected. But gay children have no one to look to—he can’t even let those who love him know for fear they will reject him. (And why wouldn’t they? Even today, homophobia is rampant.) Now, however, there are role models for even the youngest of children; they are no longer made to automatically feel that their feelings are abominations.
I remember my dad telling a story once of how, as a teenager, he and some of his friends had gone around beating up “queers.” And I overheard my mother once saying how at one time she had been in a car with several people, one of whom was a “queer,” and she was repulsed when he accidentally touched her neck. These were my parents: the two people I loved more than anyone else in the world.
They of course had no absolutely no idea of the message they were sending when they told these stories. I was too young for it to occur to them that I already knew who I was. When, many, many years later, I openly confirmed what they had long before realized…that I was gay…they couldn’t have been more supportive and loving. But this was long after the damage had been done.
Being gay is both what I am and who I am. I have the luxury, after all these years, of simply dismissing or ignoring those who find my lifestyle objectionable.
I’ve frequently said that having realized who and what I was so early in life, unlike so very many gays and lesbians of my generation and several that came after, I have never, for one moment of my life, been ashamed of who I was, or had the slightest doubt that I had and have every right to be who I am. I am happy, for current and future generations, to realize that the world is finally coming around to agreeing.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).