When I was 15, I babysat for a little boy from a Mormon family named Michael. His parents both worked long hours so when I watched him we would both help out around the house by doing some general cleaning and other chores. When we were done we would just sit and watch movies. His favorite movie was “To Wong Foo“. He actually introduced me to that film for the first time. He was a pretty cool kid. He had rough home life. His older sister was a bit abusive to him so he looked to me like an older brother. I loved this Little guy and I never once considered it work when we would get to hang out.
Around this time I was starting high school in a new town. It had recently come out that I was gay and of course that naturally started the rumors that I was a professed child molester, as all homosexuals in that town were considered a threat to children. Needless to say, once this Mormon family caught wind of the situation, I was fired. It broke my heart. The ironic thing that I realized years later was that the husband was in fact gay himself. I lost several other babysitting jobs as a result.
This experience would help to build the rocky foundation of my future. It taught me the lesson that my sexual orientation was a shameful and destructive part of who I was and that I needed to keep this part of me hidden as best I could from now on. I would be judged harshly and without merit for even entertaining the idea of reveling this secret in mixed company. These experiences, along with physical and mental abuse from my father figure at the time, started me on a path of understanding that I needed to be on constant guard and alert from now on.
I couldn’t let myself slip by seeming too happy or expressive as these traits might cause me to let my guard down and that would surely show the more undesirable feminine side of my nature which would in turn immediately reveal my shameful orientation. It’s an unhealthy and destructive state of living, to always be on high alert, hiding “the worst part of you” that was actually some of the best of you. This contributed largely to an existence filled with crippling social anxiety, low self-esteem, and agoraphobia that only worsened as the years went on.
In my adult life, this made me ashamed to be in a committed relationship. This made me ashamed to be in-love. I was, and always am, hesitant to introduce someone as my boyfriend. I can’t even count the number of times my significant other has been reduced to “roommate status” out of fear of being judged. In everyday situations, this happens more than you would think, where you have to gauge interactions and ultimately decide to hide the fact that you are gay and in a gay relationship. In general conversations with complete strangers I find my self editing my life. You never know how someone will react. Common situations of casual conversation where you might insert “my husband” or “my wife’ can be a nightmare for a gay person.
Sometimes it’s just best to avoid it all together and not have to deal with the aftermath. It might sound like I am overly sensitive, but with all of the continuing hate crimes and ever present discrimination in the world, how can I not be on high alert. Businesses are refusing services to gay patrons. Court clerks are refusing to uphold regulations that they are legally obligated to comply with, denying some same-sex couples of the right to marry.
On a more personal level, this leads to holidays and special life events spent solo with separate families and never being naturally recognized as a union like any other heterosexual relationship would easily be accepted. Eventually this can lead to total isolation and avoidance of all family functions and major commonly celebrated occasions. You make your own holidays. You make your own safe world. It’s just easier that way. Why should I subject myself to these constant verbal and mental beatings? Why would I spend, what is for most a joyous occasion, in complete misery?
Don’t be mad that you don’t have straight pride, be glad that you don’t need it
It’s often impossible to read the comments of a public news article without being bombarded with an overwhelming amount of homosexual bigotry, reminding you of just how ignorant a lot of people still are. Reminding me of the cold hard fact that I am still a second class citizen that is robbed of certain human rights. I can’t even legally donate blood. I guess it’s obviously “aids blood” by society’s standards. HIV is still widely considered a gay persons disease, i.e. punishment by God for being a sinner. Things are changing and getting better in a lot of ways but there is still a long way to go.