This is a subject I have rehashed throughout my life. I don't worry about it all that much anymore, but at one time it really bothered me.

Out Here On My Own
A Gay Opinion 2/27/01
by R.A. Melos

I may have mentioned this at some other time, but the theme song for my high school prom was from the hit movie Fame. It wasn't the title song, "I'm gonna live forever, baby remember my name...." While other classes at other schools boogied (I graduated in 1981, so boogie is the appropriate word) to songs with titles like The Best Of Times, by Styx, or Through The Years, by Kenny Rogers, my class slow danced to Irene Cara tearfully belting out the heart wrenching ballad Out Here On My Own.

I really should've taken it as the sign from the Universe it was, but I wasn't a pagan at the time, nor was I very aware of much beyond the thought of graduation. When I heard the words "Sometimes I wonder where I've been? Who I am? Where do I fit in?" I should've looked around at the world and considered whether or not I really did want to fit in, and what it actually meant back then, but as I said, I wasn't aware of much.

So now, twenty years later, I've become more aware. Oh sure, it can be lonely out here on my own, but given the options of current societal trends, it really isn't bad choosing my own way. This is especially true since, being outed, I've chosen to continue to be out and proud of who I am as a person.

I don't fit the mold of queer life, as painted for us in Showtime's Queer As Folk, but then I don't know too many gay people who do fit that mold. And I definitely don't want to fit into the illusion of heterosexual society, unless you count those moments of road rage, which I experience driving on any of New Jersey's major highways, which I consider heterosexual emotions. I always consider truly violent emotions to be heterosexual in nature.

So, where do I fit in? And, more importantly, do I care where I fit in? Is fitting in, or being labeled, even if it is a self-imposed label, really important in my psychological development as a gay man? I can answer the last two questions, and the answer is no. Since the answer to the latter questions is no, it makes the former question unimportant.

I spent the first 33 years of my life trying to figure out how to please others, how to fit in and make others think I'm something I'm not, and still have the life I wanted. I realized I couldn't have both, so I chose to compromise myself, my natural urges, hoping it would make others happy. I thought I would live as my parents wanted me to live, until they died off, and then I would live my life for me. Well it didn't work out that way, and it cost me some very good years of my life.

I've been known to say ''I have no regrets', but that is a lie. I do have regrets.

I regret not coming out in my teens, when I first acknowledged, to myself, my homosexuality. I regret being more concerned with how others saw me, and what others thought of me, than with what I thought of myself. I regret not realizing, at a younger age, I was the one who had to live my life content with my decisions, and pay for my mistakes.

I hurt myself by denying who I was in order to retain the love of others, and in doing so I lost my self-respect. I figured lies and deceit were the way life was supposed to be, and accepted lies and deceit from myself and others in order to fit into the society in which I was raised. I lived with the self-knowledge of my deceits until they were stripped from me by the only person I trusted with all my heart and soul.

In one moment, I was given the answers to the questions of where I've been? Who I am? Where do I fit in?

Where I've been was living a lie to please those who might want to control me, but who ultimately could not live my life for me.

Who I am, is an out gay and proud man. I am now someone who has the pagan beliefs of Universal energy and reincarnation, and karma, who can never deny the existence of a higher being or greater force than myself, and who is secure in my beliefs in myself and the universe.

Where do I fit in? Out here on my own, just like everyone else in the world, gay or straight, making a path for myself with which I can be happy. So, in a sense, I do fit in with all of society, because, whether we are traveling together in cultural beliefs, societal beliefs, even personal beliefs, we are all truly out here on our own.


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