For the second installment of “Growing Up, Gay” I wanted to focus on something that I briefly touched on in my last entry — the fear that surrounded my being gay.
Fear was something that constantly influenced me growing up. Once I started to come to the realization that I was gay, I began to fear the possibility. From a young age, I had learned from the media and from my peers that being gay was unacceptable — be it from the general absence of gays in popular media at the time, or from the young boys on the playground jeering at each other “Ew! You’re gay!” As soon as I started to notice my attraction towards other men, I began to feel alone and afraid. I didn’t know who I could possibly talk to about being gay, and I was scared that if I told anybody they would hate me; or worse, harm me physically. Because of these fears, I learned to hide who I was from everyone.
The presence of the internet in my life growing up didn’t do much to assuage these fears either. It did help some, but for the most part it made things worse. I vividly remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine online where I told her that I didn’t want to burn in hell for being gay, and that I was terrified of it. The idea that God hates gays was put into my head by things I had read on the internet, as my upbringing was not in the least bit religious. At that point in my life, I had somewhat of a double life — on the internet, I was gay and out but in real life I was very much in the closet trying to keep the world convinced I was a “normal” person. Not only was I terrified that God hated me, I was terrified that my family would disown me if I ever told them I was gay. At one point, I was so afraid of the possibility of being disowned, that I had convinced myself I would move out at 18 and never see them again to avoid the conversation.
With every lie I told I piled more and more baggage on my shoulders, until eventually the weight of my world was unbearable. Waking up everyday, knowing my life was a lie made me feel horrible. I loved my family and didn’t want to lie to them anymore but the possibility of what might happen if I stopped lying was, at the time, much worse than the lie itself. The very real fear of being hated, disowned and unloved led me to seek out the possibility of “fixing” myself instead – I didn’t want to be broken anymore. Eventually I would begin to realize that I could not be fixed, because to be fixed requires being broken in the first place — Eventually, I would learn that I was not broken.
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