A great deal has been made of the issue of birth v. choice where lifestyle comes into question. I am a believer in DNA and birth right. I didn't choose homosexuality, God, or the Universe, or whatever you believe in, chose my sexuality at conception. I do not believe one chooses instinctual behaviors.

The Path Not Chosen

A Gay Opinion 3/28/00
by R.A. Melos

My sexuality is not one of choice, but of nature. I have always been, as far back as I can remember, even when I wasn't sure what it was I was feeling, a homosexual. By finally accepting myself as a gay man, I have finally chosen a path.

Now I know you're questioning what that means, after all, if I chose to live a lie, to hide my homosexuality for all the years I did hide it, then wasn't that choosing a path?

No, it wasn't. For while living my lie, hiding my true self from my family and friends, as much as I could hide it, I was bouncing back and forth between two lives. One was the straight life, where I told gay jokes with straight friends, and the other was a secret life of haunting adult book stores in the gay sections, and watching guys in locker rooms or on the street and fantasizing about them.

The division of straight and gay life for me was, until I turned 30, an easy separation. I did have interest in some sports, from a viewing perspective, like basketball, tennis, and hockey. I hated to play sports because, as a child, I was the littlest one and the last chosen to play. Admittedly, I wasn't very good at sports. Although, when rarely given a chance, one rarely hits a home run the first time at bat.

I tried to, and was quite successful at, ignoring or forgetting my early childhood. Yes, I was the kid who usually got beat up on the playground, and I was raised by parents who didn't believe in fighting back. I preferred to be alone, or away from those who would taunt me, calling me names.

One of my earliest recollections of the cruelty one child can do to another was in second grade. Our class had to give Valentine's Day cards to each other. They were supposed to say things like "be my friend". One of the girls gave me a card, and inside she wrote, "be my queer." I'll remember that card and this girl my entire life.

In second grade I didn't know what "queer" meant, since my family never talked of such things. I didn't know what the word meant, and, being poor in spelling, I thought it said "queen." When I asked her what it meant she laughed, and mocked me even more for not knowing what a "queer" was. I asked her what it was, and she said "a fag." Again, my family never spoke in these terms, so I still had no idea what she meant.

I chose to ignore her comments, since I was also on the lazy side, and really didn't want to be bothered to look up in the dictionary words which I didn't know. I wasn't inquisitive by nature. If my mother hadn't gone into labor, I probably never would've left the womb. It was warm and comforting in there, I'm sure.

As I grew up, the division of my life from so-called "normal" kids showed in my liking to keep to myself. I didn't do well in school. Oh, I got good grades at first, but my class participation was way down. I hated to draw attention to myself, for fear of being called names, or being picked on during recess. If I answered a question right, after class the other kids would call me names like "fag", or corner me on the playground and beat me for being smarter than they were. If I answered a question wrong, I was sneered at for being dumb. It was a lose-lose situation, and I didn't have anyway out of it. School, for me, because a prison term which, by state law, must be served.

I thought, if I were quiet, studied, got good grades, and didn't draw much attention to myself, I could get through school, and once out in the real world go live my life without fear of the playground bullies. The biggest obstacles to this end were the teachers, who would praise me for getting good grades. Thus, I had to stop answering questions right, even when I did know the answers.

As I got older, the lines became more visible. I didn't date. Oh, I went out with friends all the time, and we all traveled in groups. The average high school Friday night consisted of 7 to 10 guys and girls, all considered misfits by the jocks and or brains of the school, hanging out at someone's house, usually in the basement, drinking alcohol we stole from our parents liquor cabinets, and then going to a movie at the mall.

We all avoided the dreaded "dating" phase, me because while I was supposed to be looking at girls, I was fantasizing about the basketball coach and several of the members of the basketball and baseball team , whom I had seen naked during gym class. Showers weren't required in our gym classes but, interestingly enough, these guys all liked to get naked and walk around the lockerroom showing off. One in particular usually did it in a state of mild physical arousal.

Now I would call them closet cases, but back then they were just the high school sports stars showing off. Oh well. Maybe, if I had been more open, more understanding of myself, some of those guys might've....But no, they probably would've beaten me for "trying to queer them."

Am I bitter about the way my life developed? Yes and no.

Yes, I bitter because it took me all these years to get beyond the cruelty of a little girl who, unfortunately for her, died at the age of 25 from breast cancer. She probably never knew the psychological ramifications of her simple card from all those years ago.

Yes, I'm bitter because, had the world been more accepting of homosexuality, I might've dated someone in high school who I was attracted to, instead of hanging out with friends, and taking a girl to the prom who, I loved like a sister, but had no other feelings for, which was unfair to her as well. I know this because my mother told me this girl once asked my mother why I didn't find her attractive. The truth being she was, and is, a very pretty girl for whom I just didn't have sexual feelings. Now, the basketball coach, he was a different story.

Yes, I'm bitter because I spent many of my formative years hiding from a cruel world, with cruel people, trying to be a ghost. I spent years feeling I wasn't as good as these self-important "heterosexuals," many of whom went on to illustrious careers in middle-management, and a few to prison where I hope they learned the joys of the lifestyle I was denied for so long.

Above all, I'm most bitter because, once I found a lover who I could be completely honest with, someone I felt totally at ease with, a soul-mate, if you will, he was terrified to think of himself as a gay male, and more frightened of how society would treat him, at 35, if he didn't live up to what society called "a straight image."

So I lost my lover to fear and ignorance. His and societies.

Yes, I'm bitter for all of those reasons. I'm also grateful for the chance I've been given to face society as an openly gay male, proud of my own accomplishment of self acceptance. I'm no longer ashamed of having feelings for men, especially after the large number of so-called "straight" married men who've hit on me since they discovered I was gay.

I'm proud of having the courage to do something so many men don't have the courage to do, and that is to face myself, and accept myself, as a gay man in a world which is slowly changing it's attitude toward homosexuality.

My path wasn't chosen by me, but rather chosen for me by God, the Universe, whatever force guides us in life. I've chosen to acknowledge that path rather than live in denial of it. I've chosen to partake of it's pleasures openly and freely, rather than sneaking them when the wife's out of town, or at the hairdressers. I've chosen to accept myself, look in the mirror, and say "I'm gay, I'm pagan, and I'm proud."

I now wonder, after all these years and all of the emotional pain I went through, if those guys who were trying to beat me down have the same courage to look themselves in the mirror, reflect back on who and what they are, and say "I'm proud of who I am?"


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