I cannot believe that a year ago today, I came out to the world on facebook. Prior to this day, only a few close friends and my family knew of the burden I carried. Coming out was a way of sharing my burden and showed to me that there are SO many people who love me. Soon I realized that it wasn't a burden at all, but a blessing.
Sure it was definitely a blessing in disguise. There were days when I wanted to take a pill that would magically turn me straight. There were days when I was so fed up and disgusted by the gay world that I wished I had never felt feelings for other men. Then there were those days when I was with my gay friends and I felt at home, at peace, and loved for who I was, and nothing else.
My initial experiences were all over the place. People had crushes on me and I had no idea what to do. I committed myself to not having a relationship. End of story. This was not only because I was not ready for a relationship, but because I was new to the gay world and wanted to take things slow. At the time, I couldn't understand why it was so easy for so many to just throw caution to the wind and jump into being open and gay.
As I became closer to my gay friends, I realized that there were very few who jumped into the gay world. Many were in the same position I was for months or even years: not knowing what to do or who to turn to. It seemed like those who did get into the "gay-o-sphere", and possibly even started dating right away, were ill-prepared, and soon found themselves sitting in the gutter holding what was left of what they once believed.
Which sometimes makes me wonder why so many pushed me to BE ready for dating. I'm a rational person and I need time to adjust to new things and new situations. And the very idea that people who have gone through some very similar experiences would push me into something I wasn't ready for is just plain...well, it's wrong.
I've had many guys push me to drink, to smoke, or to have sex. A lot of those things are stereotypical to the "gay lifestyle" as people say. I didn't want that. And I chose not to have it. And even though I was harassed by some members of the gay community, for the most part I was told to stand my ground and to keep moving forward.
I have done so, and I love where my life is headed. I still go to church. I try to go every week. I still believe in the church and wish to remain a part of it. I have also realized that being gay and having the restored gospel in my life are NOT mutually exclusive things. I do NOT have to give up one to retain the other. And I won't give up either. I love who I am and I won't change it.
There are those who have a hard time understanding me. I am obstinant, I am moody, I am pushy but I also don't give up, I'm faithful, I'm honest, I'm fun, and I'm respectful. To those who do not yet fully understand me, I invite you to try. This is not out of a need to be liked or loved ('cause trust me there are quite a few people who *really* don't like me out there), but out of a general desire for me to become closer to you. As we learn about each other, we grow and change. As we make our journeys together, we hope not to make the mistakes of the past, but to forge a new path.
At this point in time I have started casually dating (funny after my whole paragraph about being pushed to date but hey, it's been a year!). I have for the past couple months. It has been absolutely wonderful! The guys who have taken me out have been sweet, honest, and loving. And I hope they can say the same for me when I took them out. I found a level of honesty in dating that I didn't think would exist. It made me trust a little bit more in humanity.
I have been going on dates with a friend for about a month and a half. To say that I am happy is a complete understatement! I find myself constantly thinking about him. I find myself becoming excited almost to the point of being giddy at the thought of us going on another adventure where I can't get our four-wheelers to start, or when I make myself look like a total idiot when dancing. I almost feel like a teenager again! Hmmmm... and that last sentence made me feel old...
I am ecstatic about our relationship. He knows my rules and respects them. He has never once asked me to do something that I was not comfortable with. Which is more than I can say about some other people I've met. He tells me to stick to my beliefs and to keep a high standard. And he really doesn't have to try hard to live up to my standard. He's already there, and I love him for that. There is no pretending with him. There is total honesty, support, faith, understanding, and love. I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than I feel with his arm wrapped around me in an embrace.
But I digress. He is fantastic, but there is more I want to say. Specifically, today is also an important day because my brother would've turned 26 today.
His life was a complete roller-coaster. After leaving the church at a fairly young age, he struggled to make friends. But he didn't struggle for long. His charm, wits, and love made him very popular among his social circles. He was well-known and well-liked.
And I loved him. Oh how I miss him! I miss how much he understood me. I miss his appreciation of music and it's power over mind, body, and soul. I miss being able to laugh together as we quoted our favorite TV shows. Most of all, I miss his warm smile and his always accepting heart.
He taught me how to love unconditionally. There are times when I want to tear my hair out because I am so fed up with people around me. In those cases, I think of my brother and how he truly served those he loved. I hope to follow in his footsteps.
At his funeral, there were literally hundreds of people there to say goodbye. It was the most colorful funeral I'd ever seen. The people there had pink, blue, yellow, orange, and red hair, clothing, or skin. Each one came up to either my parents, or me, and told us how much they'd miss him.
And oh what a celebration of life my brother's funeral was! My brother left behind a legacy of compassion and forgiveness. I wish he were here to guide me as I continue my journey now. I know he'd be proud of me. He'd even be proud of some of his clothing styles I've adopted, which I show off proudly, such as my jewelry, my hairstyles, and even my crazy shoes.
As I begin this new journey of life, I hope to continue on my path of self-discovery and love of mankind. I do not wish to become like some of the gays I meet--gay and bitter at the world because THEY did this to me and THEY made me so hateful. No. I choose how to react to the world. And really? If you continue to love someone who hates you with a passion, eventually, they give in. Never underestimate the power of love.
Now go out, and live to love!