I swore I'd never be that kind of gay.
I finally came out of the closet in my early 20s when I decided the pain of being in the closet was far worse than the risk of coming out.
I was raised in a small town (that I still live in) with a strict religion, and was surrounded by people I'd grown up around. I was always taught that homosexuality was a sin. One of the very worst kinds.
So I tried. For years, I tried. To not be gay.
To change myself. To reject myself. To persuade my heart it was defected. I got counseling, I prayed. I cut my arms.
And finally, when I let myself fall in love for reals, I knew it was over. I wasn't willing to fight it anymore. I was finally me. I couldn't lie or keep it secret anymore. I drove up in the mountains and told my mother. Of course, she already knew.
I wrote letters to significant people in my life, trying to explain that, while I was in love with a woman, I still loved God. That I was the same person. That I would never be a "militant gay." I could never see myself walking in a gay pride parade because, after all, that was just . . . so wrong.
I tried to "be me" and then hide it as much as possible.
I didn't want to be rejected. I wanted to "fit in." Certainly I wasn't the kind of gay that people hated. Or judged. Or condemned to hell.
It took me several years of gradual growth to realize that I am, and always have been . . . me. A delightful, complex woman. I am not a number; I am not an "other," as society would have me believe. And I love who I love. I always have.
No one wants to be judged by other people, but usually that fear is a symptom of judging yourself.
So as I grew to really love ME, I started to realize it hurt my soul to apologize for who I am. It chipped away at my being every time I tried to shrink into the shadows of conformity for the sake of being accepted.
The more I loved myself, the happier I felt standing tall in who I am.
Many powerful teachers came into my life at exactly the right time to reflect back to me what I already knew. What I've always known, deep down: that I am wonderful, exactly as I am.
So what exactly is a "militant gay," anyway?
I don't even know. It was a line that was fed to me and I was simply parroting the fear. I am not a lover of conflict, and so I was afraid to be seen as "pushing my gay agenda" on anyone. I don't actually know what that means, either.
The only "gay agenda" I'm aware of is the one where a human wants to be accepted by another human for who they are.
I am learning that I rather like myself. I think I am worth standing up for. I actually want to be free to just be me. I don't want to apologize for who I am any longer. And so I won't. I even think a gay pride parade may be pretty cool.
I believe in equality. I believe in joy. I believe that love is the answer to almost every question in life. I am proud of who I am.
I'm that kind of gay.
In the comments, I'd love to hear from you:
Have you apologized for being who you are? How has that affected your life? How long were you able to be the person you thought you should be before you became the person you are?