The topic was how you handle fear, and was originally written for Out There Collaborations. Obviously, I didn't fully answer the question. I admit I tend to go off on the tangents of pressing closeted homosexuals to face themselves and come out of the closet. I do this for a reason. The more honest a person is in their life, the more relaxed they can be.
Fear and Loathing
A Gay Opinion 01/29/01
by R.A. Melos
I lived most of my adult life in fear. First I lived in fear of being discovered, or having my secret discovered. I was closeted and terrified someone would actually discover proof I was gay. Oh, I'd been labeled gay by my peers at an early age for which I learned to ignore, deny, and distance myself from people. Fear ran my life, until I was 33 years of age, and my now ex-lover took away my fears by outing me in a vindictive effort to hurt me.
Up until that time, I allowed fear of losing my families respect, or love, to rule my life. Because of my fears I denied myself the pleasure which was rightfully mine, and which I should have pursued. During the years when I would've enjoyed it the most, throughout my teens and twenties, I denied myself all of the things many of today's gay youth refuse to deny to themselves.
I rarely went out, and never dated. I was 30 before I entered a gay bar for the first time, simply because I feared someone might see me going in or coming out of the building. I fought all my natural urges in order to fit into a society I secretly hated with the passion I was denying myself.
Denial is a weighty load to bear, as you must openly acknowledge, to yourself, the act and decision of denying yourself something. Now homosexuality is not like a diet, where you deny yourself chocolate cake, or potato chips, although homosexuality is like potato chips in the fact you can't have just one. Living in denial of my homosexuality had great repercussions in my now thirtysomething life.
Once I was outed, I began to openly embrace my birthright. I was born gay, it wasn't a choice, like which shirt to wear or which movie to rent. Being gay is not something anyone should be ashamed of, or deny, for shame and denial are the weapons of the closed minded people who wanted us all in the closet in the first place, and I will never again give into the dictates of small minded ignorant masses just to make them happy.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from being outed is to stand up for myself, and who I am. The fears of my childhood and teen years, and even my 20's, have been faced. Now, thanks to a vindictive ex-lover, I know how ignorant much of society is, and how I will not hide from them because they made me feel I wasn't good enough to be part of them.
The fact of the matter is, those who oppress homosexuals, or those who encourage denial of something which is natural to me, are not good enough to be accepted by me. I am not ignorant of their existence, and I do not turn a blind eye on those oppressors, as they are a constant danger to not only my welfare, but to the progress of society on whole. As long as there are those who continue to live in fear and self denial of who they are, because someone might make fun of them, or even try to kill them, society can not advance to a place where man lives at peace with himself.
Yes, I hid, for 33 years, and might still been hiding had it not been for a vicious act by someone I love, but I can forgive his hateful act, because I know the fear with which he lives. And, while I managed to face it and overcome it, he still has not faced his fears, but chose to run from them.
There are many such men like my ex-lover, and they are the ones who are perpetuating the fear for themselves, because living without those fears, facing myself and enjoying a new outlook on life has given me a different perspective of society in general.
Yes, there will always be ignorance, such as my coworker who still tells me he is praying for me to find a woman who will change me, which is like, in his mind, turning water into wine. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize how special it is for me to be gay. Trying to get me to change from homosexuality to heterosexuality is like changing a fine champagne into tap water.
Not everyone who has experienced outing has come to terms with themselves as well as I, but not everyone musters up the level of anger I have toward myself for those years in which I lived in denial and hiding. I'm not saying anger is the only way to get through such an ordeal, but it is the way I've gotten through much of my outing and self acceptance.
One of the greatest obstacles was coming to terms with how much I have denied myself, just to make strangers happy. I say strangers, because anyone who can't accept me as I am is a stranger to me. I can see nothing recognizable in them which I could identify as human. They are the people whom I feel sorry for, on some level, and on whom I can no longer waste my time.
Having given up so much of my life to fear, I refuse to give up one more minute to fear or oppression. These feelings are extremely important, especially now, in the political climate of George W. Bush, who is determined to bring the world back to the ignorance of the 1980s, bad gay jokes, and heads buried in the sand. Maybe he will grow as an individual and become enlightened as he leads America into the new millennium, but I expect that as much as I expect my ex-lover to wake up a mature man who can accept himself and talk with me as an adult.
The fears of my youth are buried, but never forgotten, nor should they be forgotten. Much like the holocaust, these are things which must be remembered, so as not to put another generation through them again.
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