Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I've been told by a few folks that homosexuality is a struggle, and that it is my cross.  That it is the thing that God gave me to test my faith.   I've been told that everyone struggles.   Some people struggle with poverty, some people struggle with disease, some people struggle with not knowing what to watch on TV (which is why they invented TiVo™), and in my case, my struggle is with homosexuality, and if I am to "give in" to it, then where is the struggle?  I will have none, because my life will be easy.

When has a gay man ever had an easy life?

Growing up in the coptic church, I learned the importance of appearances.  I guarantee you, sometimes it is much easier to bottle up who you are, in order to maintain the acceptance of a society that has surrounded you from birth.    People do it all the time, just ask the girl who looks around at the club to make sure no one is there from church that she knows.   Ask the man, who oppresses his family and beats his children, but is kind and affectionate with strangers.  All to maintain acceptance by the people around them.

We can ask those people, or let's rewind 6 years and talk to yours truly, when he was a sophomore in college.   I never really understood why my friends had such a hard time abstaining from sex with their girlfriends, it was a breeze for me.   It was easier to focus on the fact that I was just a "good guy", rather than a "gay guy" (well, they don't have to be mutually exclusive).    Girls always found me to be very nice, and safe, and many even fell for me over the years, and I promise you, I wasn't giving them any signals intentionally.    Every once in a while, I'd find a girl I could hang around who was not only beautiful but fun to be around, and I'd call her my girlfriend.   Lust was not one of the things I had to worry about. Being gay was just not an option for me.  It was a choice that people made, as I was taught, why would I be steered wrong?   Why would I choose something like this? I mean, obviously people who aren't gay would know more about being gay than I would, right?

I had it all, parents who were proud of me, a church community I was active in, a track record that was decent enough I could walk around heaven with my head held high and give high-fives to the saints, young and old.   I had friends who were fun.  Every once in a while,  I'd find myself wanting to be much closer to my male friends than I actually was, to the point of even frustration and heartbreak for me, but I figured all guys went through this, so, let it be, right?   The occasional dream where I was making out with a dude that I knew.  Yes I'm sure all straight guys experience this.

The idea of facing and even accepting that my sexuality was bent towards men, was something I was not prepared to do.   I could not even imagine what my parents would think.   How many nights do I remember watching the news with them, when a report of a gay parade would come on, or some celebrity would come out of the closet, and they would shake their heads and point their eyes upwards and ask the good Lord about how he allowed this country to get so weird and "disgusting".   I'm not sure they ever got an answer, although I should probably double-check.    I couldn't imagine them looking at me, the same way they looked at those people on the television.  It was as if the word gay, would suddenly put filters on their eyes, and whenever they'd look at me, they'd see a dancing man in a speedo atop a float.    I couldn't risk that.

And my friends.   There wasn't a gay man among us, so it was safe to call each other names like "fag", "queer", or the occasional and pass√©, "that's so gay" without offending anyone, because deep down, my group of friends had a non-verbal agreement that homosexuality was weird, maybe even a bad thing, so we could tease each other with bad words, and it's funny.   What would I lose if I held my hand up and say, "uh hey guys, I'm actually a queer, too."

Above all, it was the sense of guilt I had started to feel in relation to my spiritual life.  Everything I had been taught thus far didn't make sense in light of what I was experiencing.   If being gay was a choice, and homosexuality was not innate, then why am I an exact copy of all the people in my life, except one thing: my desires for companionship and intimacy were targeted towards certain members of my same gender.  If the devil made me do it, and the devil was suggesting I try something so bad, why did I not already have desires for the opposite sex, because that would be from within me.   If the devil is feeding me information, it would only make sense that I already had some sense of "normal" sexuality already, and this gay stuff was just a wicked bonus.  Maybe the devil wasn't suggesting anything at all?    The thought of being cursed by God was definitely something I was not willing to risk.

However, inside I began to hurt, and it was a pain that started to break me down ever so slowly.   The pain of not knowing who you are, is something that no person should ever have to go through, because it is probably the most dangerous and self-destructive forces that can plague a human being.   I had a few options, I could either come out, or I could find some other way to deal with this mess.

Four years later I came out.   What happened in those four years is another story for another day.

Coming out as a gay man actually ended up creating more struggle for me than I had anticipated.    Life didn't become easy and struggle-free.  It was tough!  Dealing with family and having to see the pain in their eyes as they saw their dreams for me crash at an alarming rate.  Having to tell certain friends, and having some embrace me, and having some shun me.  Straight people have to deal with these things in regards to a particular person whom they may choose to date or love, or maybe in regards to an entire race they may be attracted to, but never in regards to the entire gender that draws their attention and love.

Forget about other people, how about my own dreams, of having a wife and biological children, and the idea that I can continue my generations and traditions in the way that was laid out before me.  It was a dream that took a while to die to.

Oh but the struggle doesn't stop there. I started to understand the struggle people go through in regards to having integrity in dating, especially in regards to physical intimacy. In fact I started to realize I wasn't much different from my straight cohorts.   I started to feel, dare I say, normal.  Feeling normal was something I knew I could never take for granted after spending so many years looking in the mirror and seeing a freak.

I was also facing the struggle of entering into a world with few role models of the kind of life I wanted to live, and I realized that it had nothing to do with the nature of homosexuality but rather the byproduct of the development of a subculture that had been forced into secrecy without boundaries or borders; but if "Tuesdays With Morrie" taught me anything, it was that if necessary, you must create your own culture, and so I am :)

So struggle is there, hardcore, in fact!  However what makes it worthwhile? It is the peace I feel within that is unshakable! It is the peace that comes from being transparent with oneself and in front of the Divine, that makes me stand strong in light of all these things. It is the healing I have experienced and the fact that my sexuality is not a mountain of an issue anymore, rather it is a part of a rather rich and full life, just like it is for other people out there.

While my road is not so straight, it is most definitely narrow.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I admire your strength. Please continue posting. A guy who's walking the not so straight, narrow path too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey guy, thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete

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