Recently, I’ve been contemplating life. Not just my life, but also the lives of others. Some things that I thought I had put to rest had to be dusted off and re-examined again, touched up with a little glazing of the wisdom that experience brings.
Like so many others, my upbringing was suburban - unremarkable by anyone’s standards. My parents loved me (still do) and did what they thought was best for me. The only feeling that pervaded was that I lived in a world that did not resonate with my emotional, intellectual and spiritual being. It was a narrow world, a world filled with demons and angels, sin and evil and hatred, but very little love and very little regard to the truth, the two things I hold in highest regard. To me it seemed an unjust world. Through painful processes of denial, self-deception and efforts to conform to the norms of society, I had to realize that I could not change who I was meant to be. Painful as the realization might have been, as strongly as I had felt like a disappointment to my parents, I could not walk away from my responsibility to LIVE. This did not happen instantaneously or indeed spontaneously. Rather it was a cascade of events that ran its course through many painful years of hiding and fearing the outcomes of my secret being uncovered. My big, shameful secret. In fact, I tried very hard to live the life others wanted for me, but something was always missing. I could not feel fulfilled.
When you’re harbouring a shameful secret, everything takes on ominous tones. Sometimes it feels like other people can see straight through your skull. In fact, the secret becomes the melodramatic centerpiece of your life. You cannot see the wood for the trees. You feel like you’re the only one and that you are so abnormal and shameful that nobody will love you once they find out your secret. Yet you cannot see the simple truth that you cannot live in darkness and not also live in despair.
You may fear some religious people, but you will find they are ignorant of God’s extent if they do not realize that we are all in God’s plan - and God does not make mistakes.
The closet is a lonely place because nobody knows your heart. You have to keep others at arm’s length to protect the secret. In the end it’s an exhausting dance of deception that deflects the joy that is your birthright. You will find yourself engaging in destructive (and distracting) acts in attempts to escape the deep sorrow residing in you. You are dissociated from life and from your reality. Nothing is more damaging than being disconnected from the source of your humanity.
Like others, I contemplated the escape of suicide. My parents, quite by accident, found a note in which I expressed my desire to die. That’s when everything changed. They realized that they’d rather have a gay child than dead child. They were facing their deepest fears as parents - losing their child forever. And in that moment, they realized what really mattered. Like so many parents, their perception of happiness was simply what they had known. They might have projected their fears of prejudice on us because they did not want us to suffer. They might have tried to change us because they thought we were confused. But even though they were mistaken as to what was right for us (because it’s not their reality and it’s always more difficult to understand someone else’s reality), they always loved us.
That old adage that blood is thicker than water is actually true. It may take them some time to arrive at that destination of unconditional love, but they always do eventually.
I have spoken to many a friend about their parents. The overwhelming theme is that eventually, if not immediately, they will accept you just as you are in the knowledge that you are good just as you are. When everyone involved embraces love and truth… that’s the moment you know you have transcended all barriers as a family.
Many people will tell you that coming out was the best thing they ever did. And for me it was the same. Coming out was not nearly as catastrophic as I thought. The world didn’t end and I didn’t die of loneliness or shame. Getting there was hard, but the journey was worthwhile. I no longer have to carry the world on my shoulders alone. And I no longer have to hide. It’s mind boggling that as soon as you are okay with yourself, everyone else is too. I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t been okay with me.
My life is abundant now. When I need a friend, I have real friends who are there for me. My best friends are not only those that stayed in my life after I finally decided to come clean with them, but also the new friends that unquestioningly opened their arms to me and acknowledged my humanity with love and compassion.
Our realities cannot be ignored; it is truth, our truth. And the love we have in our hearts are sacred.
Fight hatred with love and you will be rewarded with love.