Yay, today's my birthday! LOL!
Yes today marks 22 years of life for me. Of course I plan to do the usual things (accept gifts, go out all night with friends, see family), but I'm also reflective on this b-day(hence the title).
As I laid in bed last night, I thought about just how far I've come. Four years ago, at 18, I was not excited about college and the future, and didn't have any sort of dreams or ambitions for myself. I was lonely, sad and closeted. I had no sense of my own identity, but simply shapeshifted my personality to the desires of what friends, family, church and God (I thought) wanted for me.
Add to that some heavy daily weed usage and you have the depressed, hot mess that was me.
One day something shifted though. One night, alone and thinking about my life in my dorm room, I realized that I could not name one person in my life who I was being completely honest with, who I showed my true self to. I had built up a wall of sarcasm and secrey so thick that no could see who I was.
Since that day of realization, I embarked on a journey of intense introspection and discovery.
I met and befriended other gay folks who were comfortable with themselves and secure in their sexuality, came out to close straight friends and got into endless fights (let's call them discussions:) about why my 'choice' wasn't one and why I wasn't going to burn in hell. Knots in my stomach churned as I told my brother who merely shrugged and said "Ok." I also had my first serious relationship, discovered the torture of long distance love, and gave up the ganga ghost.
Most importantly I finally began to truly seek my own relationship with God by re-examining my faith and everything I had been raised to believe about homosexuality, and read things that challenged my ideas and ultimately caused me to think critically about what I had been taught, and realize my views are just as valid as anyone else's. Calmness and clarity began to replace feelings of anxiety and desperation, as I tore down the walls I had spent most of my adolesence building.
As I sit here typing this however, neither me or my life is perfect. When I told my mother, she reacted the way I expected her to: she felt this was something that could be prayed away, and eventually God would make the heterosexual family man I was born to be. I was prepared for her reaction, but still saddened that her beliefs couldn't allow her to see the man I truly am. And I still haven't told my father or extended family members.
There are still moments when I find myself wanting to revert to old closet behaviors, like when someone asks me who braids my hair (my current boyfriend does:) or asks if I'm seeing anyone special. There are still moments when I find myself desiring others' approval. Unlearning 18 years (I came out at 19) of closet case behavior doesn't happen overnight, but I'm making progress.
At 22, my life isn't everything I want it to be yet, but it's light years away from what it once was. I have a desire now to not just survive, but LIVE.
For anyone who is where I was, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it for you: coming out is not easy. It's often awkward and uncomfortable, and you not always get the response you want. But in the end it's one of the most rewarding things you can do. Make sure you find people who will support you in your journey, and remember that only person who has to live your life is YOU. So you might as well be happy while you do it.
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