The past must be remembered, so we don't repeat it.
A Gay Opinion 10/14/00
by R. A. Melos
In the past I have written of my first recollections of being gay, even before I knew what the word meant, back in the second grade, when children were supposed to be happy and carefree, but I have not really explored in words, even to myself, how it felt to acknowledge to myself what I was.
I can't recall exactly when I first refused to think about or remember my past, my childhood, but I know it was at an age when I was too young to have had much of a past.
I have specific memories of hurtful incidents throughout my life, but I can't pinpoint the exact incident that triggered my emotional shutdown, which closed off all painful memories of growing up.
Oh, I know I grew up. I remember being a child the way one remembers having eaten lunch. I suppose I ate it, but can't remember the specifics of what I ate or how I felt eating it, and, for me, that's exactly how I felt for a long time about my childhood.
Many people, gay and straight, go through life with a smile, pretending everything is all right with the world, ignoring the little things that don't quite fit into their mental image of the world. The hurts, the betrayals, the emotional pains, are things which fade into their mind and eventually appear as if they were a dream instead of a real event which shaped a portion of their universal growth.
The mental abilities people have, which will help them pretend or mask the pain they feel, amaze me. Even more amazing is the capacity people have for ignoring the truth, even their own personal truths, in order to blend into a society which, in whole or part, wouldn't shatter if these people did acknowledge their own and other peoples truths.
One of my first memories of the feelings I had when I realized I was unlike everyone else is one of confusion. It was so long ago I don't remember the event, only the feeling of fear and confusion at what would happen if people knew I wasn't like them, or didn't think exactly like them.
While today I am very able to proudly proclaim my homosexuality, to the world and myself, I know I was aware of it from an early age, and I pretended it didn't exist. I denied my own feelings so people would like me, as if other people's opinions of me were more important than my opinion of myself.
I remember making conscious efforts to be just like everyone else, yet I wasn't raised by my parents to be a sheep, or blindly follow the crowd. I remember wanting to participate in Little League, and even talking to my father about it, but he told me I was too young, and too small to do it. I was young, but the same age as other kids who were in Little League, and I was smaller than the rest of the kids my age. In fact, I was the smallest kid in school all the way up until high school, when I grew and then towered over many of the same kids who tormented me as a child.
I know I copped an attitude, at a very early age, of not caring what others thought. Adopting this attitude was a defense mechanism to protect myself from the barbs and attacks of my so-called peers.
I didn't like sports, but this was not because I was gay. My father, as far back as I can recall, never watched a sporting event on television, and only took me to two games in my entire life. He was not interested in sports, any more than he was interested in drinking. So, while my peers fathers spent weekend afternoons watching a game and getting drunk on the couch, my father worked around the house, cleaned the yard, and in general did useful things.
My lack of sports knowledge hampered my ability to blend into the blue-collar community in which I was raised, since all of my peers knew the rules of the games and enjoyed playing them. I not only didn't know the rules, I really didn't care, since I didn't like playing games. Of course, not liking things my peers liked only made me more suspect in their eyes.
The thing is, and it is still true even now, I don't care what they thought or currently think of me, because, and I know this is the part that really aggravates them, I am happy with myself as I am. It has taken a long time to be able to say this, but it is true. Despite the pain I've suffered in recent years, and the feelings of abandonment and loss, I am perfectly happy being exactly who I am today, and I wouldn't change a thing I've done or experienced, because I like myself and who I am.
The memories of the feelings of pain, of the non-acceptance of myself by my peers, and by myself, are only memories which at times seem like a dream. I know my own personal truths, and am much happier being able to voice them, feel them, experience them on every level, and not care what others think, say or do out of their own jealousy over my emotional freedom.
Yes, I was confused, and afraid, but I'm not anymore, and won't be again. Yes, there have been pains inflicted upon me by others, pains which are eternally unforgivable, which I can once again think of as past. Yes, I am happy with myself, and my life, and sad for those who hurt me and those in their own denial.
The part that gets me is, even though I can never forgive the hurt on an eternal level, I would and will still take those who hurt me back into my life when they are ready and open to their own truths. Knowing this about myself does bother me, because so many of my peers tell me how wrong I am to think that way. My peers tell me I should hate the ones who hurt me, even if their actions were out of their own fears, and I just can't hate them just because society tells me I should.
After all, what does all of society know about my pains and my personal emotional growth? Many of them are the ones who inflicted the pains, and they are the ones I can no longer trust, yet I can accept their future friendships and loves, because I'm that kind of person.
I don't say I'm better than all those who hurt me, only more attuned to myself and the universe.