The topic, for the Misanthropic Collaboration, being comfortable in your own skin, and what it meant to me as a gay man, made me realize just how uncomfortable I was prior to my acceptance of my homosexuality. After realizing how comfortable I felt as a gay man, I wondered how anyone could live a life of lies and be comfortable with themselves?

I'm not very good a deception or duplicity, so I find those who are to be rather alarming. I would never trust a person who doesn't take things personally, or who considered some things just business. I don't delegate my life in such a manner and don't want people around me who do.

Comfortable In My Own Skin
A Gay Opinion 2/13/01
by R.A. Melos

Judging from the current political climate, it may be unpopular for me to take the stance I do, but I don't really care about politics, or what other people think of me, because they are not me and do not control me. So, I proudly, and boldly, announce my homosexuality at every turn. I do this for several reasons, the most important being as to not forget I am different from heterosexual society.

After much deliberation, years of struggling with myself, I have finally won. I am a natural born gay man. No, that's not the same as born again, but in some senses I was born again into the light of honesty and truth when I was forced to confront my own fears and self-doubts. I was afraid my fears would overshadow my true nature, but I discovered, thanks to my ex-lover, the ability to overcome the lies I told myself.

I was terrified of allowing myself to truly be who I was born to be, because of my fear of myself. I was never comfortable in my lies, and knew, as I went from teenager to adult, I would never be able to continue such bold lies. It would not be possible, as it is for men like my ex-lover, to make love to a woman and pretend to want her, when in my mind and heart I would, as my ex-lover confided he does, always want a man and pretend the woman I was with was a man.

It's not like I'm incapable of being so duplicitous, but more like I'm incapable of tricking myself into believing something, which I know in my mind and heart not to be real. I see men do it every day, out of the desire to not hurt their wives, or the desire to be accepted by a society, which in reality doesn't give them a second thought. I'm not one of those men who can even fake it.

I know this may sound like an attack on closeted homosexuals, and in a way it is, but it really isn't meant in a hurtful way. I am simply, as I always do, urging all closeted homosexuals to stop lying to themselves, because they are hurting themselves more than even they may realize.

I'm not just talking about the waste of their emotional lives, living for the acceptance of people who aren't worthy of their acknowledgment, but also physical health. Lies beget stress, and other emotional ills, which can result in heart problems, shingles, and other stress related issues.

I know I was never really comfortable pretending to laugh at the same jokes and like the same things my heterosexual friends did, which isn't to say I never found any common ground with heterosexuals, I'm just saying a lot of the common ground I was on was very shaky back in my teen years, and only when I openly accepted myself, and acknowledged myself to myself, did I become aware of the more firm common ground, which I could share with heterosexuals.

In a sense I was denying myself the chance to even form friendships, real friendships, with heterosexuals, since I knew I was pretending to be something I was not. Now, I can actually be a friend to a heterosexual, without feeling the fear of discovery, because I make sure everyone I deal with knows right up front I'm a gay male, and if they can't handle it then it's their problem and not mine. I'm out, happy and proud, and that is something I wish all the closeted homosexuals could experience.

It took me a long time to get to the point of accepting myself, but since I have, I will never again deny my sexuality. And, since I define a good part of my self-image by my sexuality, I will never again, in any way, short change myself by pretending to be anything I am not. By doing this, I have become very comfortable in my own skin, and am very happy to be who I am.

Yes, there are portions of my life I would still improve on, but those improvements would never involve pretense. Gay is gay, and, in my mind, not something open to interpretation. Yes, there are degrees of gay. Closeted men, hiding who they are from everyone including themselves, are one degree of homosexuality, and flaming, openly gay men dressed like Cher and shouting "We're queer and we're here!," on every street corner, are another degree. Both examples are extremes, but they both exist and they deserve to be acknowledged.

Acknowledgment is, in my opinion, one of the most important factors in self-comfort. By acknowledging my own homosexuality, even when I didn't think I was ready to do so, I changed my life, which opened a new world of emotional security for me. Since I don't define myself by relationship status, I don't need a partner in my life to know I am gay and proud. Yes, I would like one, but needing one isn't an option for me. I define myself by myself.

Being safe and happy in your own skin means exactly what it sounds like it means. You, as a person, are happy with the person you are. Well, I'm happy with the person I am, and just want all the closeted homosexuals in the world to know the same feeling of emotional security and freedom. I doubt I could ever describe the feeling of happiness and general pleasure I derive from daily acknowledgment of my homosexuality, I just hope those closeted men I care about can someday experience it for themselves.

I don't have any real advice on how to handle coming out, without sounding like a sneaker advertisement, but to offer the proverbial "Just Do It." I have been handling it for the past four years, admittedly not a great achievement by any standard, but perhaps, in its own way, it is a great achievement, since my ex-lover, and many men like him haven't even taken that step.

Perhaps it is my ex-lover's inability to face himself, which has caused me to be such an advocate of coming out and accepting yourself for the person you are. In that way, I guess the world has him to thank for my determination to speak out and urge all closeted homosexuals to live their lives for themselves, and not for their families, or friends or anyone else.

Being gay isn't why we have gay pride. We have gay pride because we have overcome our fears of being different from others in society, and can revel in our difference. We have overcome the ignorance of homophobic society, and boldly, almost defiantly, face that ignorance nose to nose and told it we will not conform. We will not hide our true selves to make the homophobes among us feel superior in their ability to oppress us.

We must face the homophobic society and reassure them of their heterosexuality, for it is the heterosexual society, which needs the reassurance. We, as out and proud homosexuals, already are secure in our sexuality, and it is those who try to oppress us, either homophobes or closeted homosexuals, who through their own self-denial help promote homophobia by sending the message of inferiority, who are the ones in need of reassurances.

I know coming out, or even acknowledging to yourself the possibility of being different from society, is difficult, but it is the one essential move every closeted homosexual must make in order to take those first few steps toward feeling comfortable in their own skin. I know some may argue they are comfortable in their denial, but I believe a person can only truly be comfortable in positive emotions and denial is a negative emotion.

Yes, it can be argued, we need negatives in order to recognize the positives, but I'm urging all closeted homosexuals not to let themselves to be negative. Think of all the good which could be achieved if the world were driven by positive energy instead of the negativity of denial. Look at everything which has already been achieved by positive energy, such as space flight, interracial unions, cures for many diseases. All of these positive things met with the denial of "It just can't be."

Well, for you closeted homosexuals who still sit there telling yourself "I just can't be gay," it's time you acknowledged the possibility of your own homosexuality, embraced it, and enjoyed the freedom of feeling comfortable in your own skin.


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