Monday, January 2, 2017

I'm Coming Out...

     So… I sit here feeling… I’m not even sure how I’m feeling to be honest. My emotions are kinda all over the place. I think that maybe for the first time I’m going to open up a bit about some of the things that I believe in. Sorry, but I’m going to use this as a little self-therapy and hopefully it will help me sort out some things.

     To start…
     I’m somewhat terrified. I had hoped against hope that the election wouldn’t go the way it did… but it did. I think deep down I knew it would, but one must always have hope. What this means for me personally is that I’m going to have to take steps, pretty quickly, just to survive. That may sound a little overly dramatic, but it is the truth. I’m not going to get into the details, but its a horrible position to be put in. I don’t think people completely understand what is about to befall them, and a good deal of them are going to find out the hard way.
     I think so many of us have become sheep. We will automatically follow the one in front of us without question. Realizing I was gay in the early 70’s turned me away from the pack I think. It is the only time that I can pinpoint when I started to question… just about everything. You have to realize, that Stonewall had only happened a decade earlier, and living in the Bible Belt, it took a loooong while for the fallout of that event to trickle down to make any kind of difference in my life. The only thing positive about that event was that it did open people’s eyes that gay people existed openly.
     But (Yeah, I know you’re not really supposed to start a sentence with but… get over it.) when you are being bullied, not only from your social peers, but your family as well, it tends to make you separate yourself from the crowd and start to try and figure things out on your own. Basically, I only had myself and a one other person that I could rely on: my sister.
     When you are put in that kind of situation as a very young teenager, you really don’t have much of a choice. That is when I think I broke away from the herd. Okay, I also was in a school system that really did teach you how to think on your own. As a kid I never knew how fortunate I was to grow up where I did. It was basically an isolated think-tank with brilliant people all around me. I was extremely lucky. However, that didn’t shield me from the stigma that went along with being gay.
     Don’t do it…
     My mother told me from a very early age that one should never discuss politics, religion or money with anyone but your closest inner circle and even then, tread with caution. This advice has served me well for most of my life. I never really discussed politics but I basically didn’t give two shits about it. That changed.
     What made me jump, head first, into politics was the AIDS epidemic that surrounded me. It was so pervasive in my life it was suffocating. Men I knew started to disappear. One day the light clicked on and I saw how politics directly impacted my life. What an eye opener that was.
     When I started to pay attention and think for myself about politics, what I saw sickened me. That was when I began to scrutinize the actions of our elected leadership. I think I was too immature to connect all the dots at the time but I knew things weren’t quite right. Financially things were getting better, or so I thought, but other things were getting worse. I didn’t know how much worse there were going to get. I still don’t know where it is going to end because it is still happening.
     What I saw happening had a word; a name. I had never heard the word before. Never knew it existed, but as of today, I do now and it scares the ever-living shit out of me. I am going to provide you with a link. If you have any interest at all in the well-being of others, you might take the time to read it. I will warn you now, not only is it disturbing, but you really have to push through it all. There are some of you will simply dismiss it as rhetoric, but having lived this long and having witnessed the changes described, I see it quite plainly. Of course I don’t believe everything in this article, but for the most part… I think it is spot on.

     This morning I’m feeling very old. I am fast approaching fifty-six, which many of you will not say is not old. In fact, in gay years, I might as well just ship myself off to the glue factory. Ageism in the gay community is quite prevalent, let me assure you. Once you turn fifty, you’ve become obsolete. If you are honest about your age, you are politely shunned, at first. Get to fifty-five and you’ll soon start to feel as if you’ve got leprosy and it is all over your face. That is the simple fact of being a gay man in this day and age.
     Within the heterosexual community, I’m told how young I am and how I am not old and that I have so much going for me. That works well for them and I’m glad. It is a comfort to some degree I guess. I blame the lack of education within the gay community for a lot of this.
     I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gay History should be taught in schools just like Black History. It will do two things right away: One, it will cut down on bullying. Once it is talked about, the stigma lessens. It won’t do away with it, especially with all the right-wing bible thumping, gun-toting, ‘do-gooders’ abounding, but it will help. Two: It will teach gay youth to respect the gay people that came before them and fought for the rights they take advantage of today. I don’t think they get that. They don’t understand what it took for them to be openly gay in school, hold hands on the street or have the right to say “I do” in front of friends and family. This is lost to them because there is no one telling our story. Yeah, so I’m feeling a bit melancholy with all this running through my head.
     I still have hope. Why? Because that is just the way I’m wired I guess. In my mind, if I keep pushing, helping others, doing what I think is best, in the end it will all turn out all right. That might be walking around with rose-colored glasses on, but hey… it is better than drowning myself in Bailey’s laced coffee, pulling a black blanket over my head and crying about how unfair life is. That is just not me.
     Nope, I’m going to happily put on my special glasses and keep on doing what I’m doing. By focusing on others I know that I’m at least making a difference, one little baby step at a time. Without a doubt I am delusional, but my days of outright activism are long past. This is about as much activism I can muster at this point in my life. I can point out things, and hopefully educate as I do what I can to make someone else’s life a bit better. Gotta get them Karma Coins somehow ya know.
     The one thing that I want for this New Year is that people find kindness. There are many more things that we have in common than not. A friendly word, a kindness shown will make everyone’s day a little better. Remember that manners do matter. Go forth and shine brightly.
     Have a grrreat week, y’all.

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