I guess I am sharing this with a hope someone somewhere reading this will think before when they called someone or something gay, or laugh at the mincing queen down the road. Point and laugh at the two men in love holding hands walking down the street.
More than anything I hope this reaches at least one young person, struggling to come to terms with a sexual or gender identity which goes against the norm. Know this.. you are not alone. There is a community here for you. If you cry, we cry, if you bleed we bleed. We are one of the same.
Before I go on I do have to say one thing , I am extremely lucky to have such amazing family and friends around me who have been nothing but supportive since I came out.
Sadly that does not change the personal turmoil I suffered up to that point.
As most people who have met me know I am not exactly the quiet shy retiring type. Alot of people assume this means I am comfortable in my own skin.
This has not always been the case. In fact it still isn't the case. What you see are defence mechanisms I learned a long time ago.
If I make fun of myself, I beat you to it!
I would much rather you laugh with me than at me.
I have put myself down, i have laughed at others, i have said things no one should say... and why.... to be normal, to fit in, in short;
To be a "normal" red blooded male.
Growing up I heard "gay" being thrown about left right and centre as an insult. "Gay" was immediately associated with "wrong, perverted, unnatural" Even to this day my friends use it as a term to describe something that is "weird, strange or crapy"...Omg, that is so gay!!
I had someone very close to me once say in jest.. if you ever come out as a gay, i will kick the shit out of you.
I am just as guilty, cracking a joke about the trans person in the bar or the rainbow twink sashaying though a bar.
We are all guilty.
What we have to realize, are these "jokes" are anything but funny.
They are hurtful and shameful.
When things are said in jest, they still have meaning.
They still stick in the mind.
They still hurt.
From a young age I knew I was different, I knew there were things about me which didn't "fit in" with the society norms.
Puberty was when things got really complicated for me.
Imagine every time you had a natural sexual impulse or thought you felt physically disgusted with yourself.
Everytime you engaged in a sexual activity with someone you were attracted to, you found yourself crying, alone and ashamed afterwards.
Imagine feeling you have no one you can talk to about this becuase of fear of being found out.
Imagine having to worry about how people will treat you if the truth ever gets out.
Imagine being scared every day that your family will reject you just for being yourself.
Imagine being scared every day you might lose friends just for being yourself
Imagine being attacked and abused for being yourself.
Young gay people experience these feelings every day.
For years, I felt like this every day.
The funny thing is, meeting a girl changed everything for me. This girl made me love myself for who I am, not what society might think about me. She made me realise that there was a love outside the norm. After meeting her, things changed. I no longer hid myself from the world. From the second I said I'm gay to her out loud I felt free. She made me realise that I had nothing to be ashamed of. Her acceptence opened my eyes. After that moment, I knew who I was, I was proud of who I was and told the world! I have never looked back!
If some one hates you for who you are, it is not you who are the issue, it is them.
The kind of hatred we witnessed in Orlando last week was not born, it was learned,. It was learned from hateful theology, hateful thinking, hateful ideas. Hate breeds hate. It is this that needs to change. We have to start to teach our children to love, not Hate. Hiding behind religion is no longer an excuse. We are human beings before we are gay, straight, Jewish or Christian, Muslim or Buddhist.
Now is the time for us all to come together in love and respect, teach each other, learn form each other and most importantly, live our lives without fear of judgement or abuse.