I sit up late at night on the computer and read other people’s blogs, diving into the lives of people in faraway cities that I don’t even know. Some of them talk about knitting or raising kids, while others talk about relationships or co-op farming. I usually just follow a tagged word and read all of the blogs on that subject. I like having an insiders view into someones mind, kind of like peeking into their soul. After all, I’ve always been a snoop.
Tonight, I started reading all of the blogs tagged gay. 25 years ago, when I was only 16, I would have been terrified to look that word up, even if access to computer search engines like Google was possible. I think even though I knew I was gay much earlier than that, I wanted to avoid the inevitable as long as possible. Yesterday, I had a reunion of sorts with my best girl friends from high school. My one friend Shell also has a blog and she showed me an entry where she wrote about me, referencing things she wrote about in her high school journal. In this particular entry, she referred to her friends as “the fat girl, the gay boy, the geek” etc, and how we all found solace in our joined freakishness.
I didn’t think much about it at the time, but driving home I asked myself if that’s how I defined myself when I was in high school. The gay boy. Looking back, I know that’s how everyone defined me, but I sure as hell didn’t define myself that way. It was the last thing in the world I wanted to be. I never imagined I could one day be married to a man, live in a house, travel together, own a business together, be part of each other’s families and live a very “out” life as a gay man that was accepted by all of those around him. I certainly didn’t think I could be gay and happy. And even though I had crushes on boys in high school, they were very much hidden and unspoken, even to myself in the inter recesses of my mind. I just did not acknowledge my own homosexuality even though it was so blaring to others.
Reading all of these gay blogs tonight, varying from teenage diaries to men’s woes about dating, I felt a part of a bigger whole. Although I didn’t relate to each small detail, there were definitely parts of me in all of their stories. And what I realize now is that I’m really no different today at 41 than I was at 16. Other than being completely out, and having been since my 18th birthday, I’m not really a different person on the inside. Back then, because of fear, I stood in the way of my own coming into, not coming out. It wasn’t others I was afraid of...it was myself. The only difference today is that the person who was hiding inside of my skin has been liberated and has allowed himself to be freed. But in reality, I’m still the same person.
I wish I could go back and talk to that gay boy and explain to him that he didn’t need to be so afraid, that one day it would all work out and things would be fine. Things would never be perfect but they would feel really good sometimes; even magical.
And I’m happy I was part of the freaks, even though I think we’re all freaks to some extent. The popular kids are too afraid to be different because they won’t be accepted. The freaks don’t want to conform because then they won’t be different. The geeks don’t know how to conform. And then we graduate and grow up and we’re still the same, just better versions of our twisted teenage selves. And somehow it all works out.
In the end, we’re all just one big group of freaks I guess, trying to find ourselves in this crazy world. And I’ll always be that gay boy, trying to find himself through music, books and art. And I love that about myself…