Long Road HomeSometimes it's fun to go reading through old emails, and the fact that I have had the same email address since early college makes that pretty easy.
Earlier today, in a search to find some photos for my myspace profile (I'm a dork, I know), I came across an email I wrote to a friend of mine who was having a pretty rough time dealing with being gay, coming out, and moving to a new city.
Here's what I said to him:
"I was basically emotionless for several years before I came out. A lot of pent up rage and stuff, but other than that, no emotions at all really. It sucked. It took me really having to accept myself and trying to go out and be myself to help me overcome that. I still have to deal with stuff like telling half of my family and all, but I have made a lot of progress.
J and our other friend like to laugh at how much I've changed since they first met me. They always call my openness "leaps and bounds" from when I first started dealing with it. I also think it is good for me to not fit into the stereotypical gay profile. Both for people that don't know many gay people and for other gay people that may be in the closet and think that all gays fit the stereotype. I guess I think I'm a good example of why stereotypes don't always fit. And, it took people like that to really make me realize how narrow minded I had been."
For way too long I made myself emotionless to try to deal with being gay. I figured if I didn't show emotions, I could more easily ward off being gay, I guess. I didn't realize how weird that made me feel until pretty recently. I wouldn't say it was bad (if you don't have emotions, you can't be depressed), but I think my relationships suffered, and in the end, you can only go without emotions for so long before it catches up with you. And for me, it hit in a pretty big way. Nothing serious, just a nearly all night crying session when all the pent up feelings came rushing back one night.
All that aside, one of my biggest fears when dealing with coming out was that every gay person I knew was nothing like me. I like sports and competition, and I'm just generally not that interested in show tunes, Madonna or Cher. Somehow I had managed to fall victim to a ridiculously narrow stereotype, and it took me actually getting out and meeting other gay people before I realized how off-base my perceptions were. It was that first step getting out with other gay people that enabled me to realize that there were other guys out there like me, and that I could be both happy and gay. It was a realization that was a long time in coming, but one that I am forever glad I came to.
Don't get me wrong, I think gay people that don't want to pursue romantic relationships with the same sex are entitled to their own decisions, and in some ways I admire them for that. I'm just pretty sure that the closet (keeping it all bottled up and hidden away) isn't a happy or healthy place for anyone. Unfortunately, most gay people don't realize that until they finally come out of the closet, not before. And, most anti-gay folks don't ever come to that realization, which means they ask more of gay people than they ever would of themselves.
So, things have changed a lot for me. But, they've been good changes. I was even just complaining to my mom the other day that while in New Orleans I felt left out because I didn't know the plot line to "Mommy Dearest" or all of the words to "It's Raining Men." Sure, that isn't all gay people are about, but sometimes it's nice to indulge a little bit and not feel guilty about it.