Trapped in the Closet

Not R. Kelly’s Closet…

I don’t really like to bring attention to the fact that I identify as gay – not because I’m ashamed, rather, there are more attributes that make up my personality than just my sexuality. Aside from the fact that I am a man who is attracted to men, I’m pretty “normal” (mind you, there is no such thing as normal) as far as gender expression is concerned. There is a story, though. It’s a difficult one to share, so if you’re triggered by any violence, this may not be the post for you.

I remember making sense of the word “gay” when I was in sixth grade. I always knew I was different from the rest of my peers when it came to attractions – hell, I was attracted to my best friend’s older brother, who was in high school. I thought he was a beautiful man. When I came to make sense of my identity, I really wanted to share it with friends, but I was terrified because I wasn’t normal. There was no such thing as being “gay” in the community I was in.

I did have a friend who was a girl. I thought it would be easy to tell her because she also likes guys and I felt she would keep quiet about it. When I called her on the phone, we talked for a while and I told her, “yo, I think I like guys.” There was silence for a few seconds and I thought to myself, you fucked up. She then proceeds to say, “I’ve always wanted a gay friend!” I smiled – this went a lot better than I went. We talked for hours about everything. Hell, I even told her that I had a crush on my best friend’s older brother. We got off the phone and I went to bed feeling great about myself.

The next day, I went to school feeling great; however, the demeanor was really weird. I felt that people were staring at me like I had done something wrong. I walked up to my best friend and smiled, “People sure are acting weird today.” He blinked at me and quickly turned his body back towards his locker, “I don’t speak to faggots.” (side note: Ironically, based off of what I’ve seen on his Facebook, I am SURE he is gay). That one friend had spread to the entire 7th and 8th grade class that I was gay. I was shocked, but I was more shocked at how I was treated.

7th grade was a year of hell – it was when I really first started seeing my depression play out. People would call me names: faggot, pussy, queer, bitch, cocksucker, booty muncher. They would yell these so loud in the hallway and would throw pencils, erasers, and any object they could find as I would walk down the hallway. If we were outside and we were going to gym, people would throw sticks, rocks, dirt, and anything else at me. I was truly baffled.

TRIGGER POINT: There was one day where I had asked my teacher to go get a book from my locker because I had forgotten it in there that morning. She nodded and I left – the hallways were empty. I opened my locker to get my book and as I was looking towards the direction of the locker, I felt something behind me; it was that sixth sense when you just knew someone was right behind you. When I went to look back, I looked down next to my neck and saw a knife. The knife was thrown into the locker as soon as I looked back and the owner ran away. I, to this day, still don’t know who it was. The school had no way of figuring out who it was, so it was neglected. I also didn’t want to bring too much attention to it because I didn’t want my parents to figure out I was gay. It’s something that haunts me every now and again.

When it was time to go to high school, I decided to go to the high school where no one went to so that I could start over. It went great for a while, until people started suspecting that I was gay because I didn’t have a girlfriend. I pretended to be madly in love with this one girl, but her and I both knew that it wasn’t real. Rumors started again.

Then, my parents decided to move (not because I was gay, but because they were tired of cold weather). I was cool with it because it was an opportunity for me to start over. I am glad that I did – I changed for the better. I became more social, I started becoming involved in more programming, and I learned how to love myself.

As far as coming out to my parents is concerned, I came out to my mom in my therapist’s office when I was in 8th grade. She was very affirming and she said, “as long as you are an upstanding citizen, I have no problem with what you are.” That made me feel great and it was a secret we kept from my dad for so many years.

I didn’t want to tell my dad until I lived on my own and I was able to support myself. I always thought that he would be the type to kick me out. When I told him, it was the year after I graduated from undergrad – hell, I told him on a Sunday after I was inspired by a church service, and I called off work on Monday and TOLD my supervisor why I was calling off. It was time. I’m glad I did it, but he wasn’t thrilled. Actually, he still isn’t very thrilled and he doesn’t get it – but he’s also old school. I don’t think he’ll ever get it.

With that, I would like to close by saying that I admire and love ALL types of people in the LGBT community, but I love those who go beyond their gender expectation and express themselves in an “atypical” way. You all are SO BRAVE. My heart extends to you and I will do whatever I can to support all types of people: from the “flaming,” to the drag queens and kings, to the studs, to the trans-everything and anything – the bravery you all have is immeasurable. Continue to be strong – it’s people like you all that allow me to walk in my truth.

 

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