I had planned to write a post on June thirtieth, the third anniversary of my coming out, about how much has changed for me over these past three years. I still intend to write that post, because there’s so much I want to talk about, but some of the feelings I wanted to discuss have changed. Completely.
A large part of that post was going to be devoted to how I was finally beginning to feel comfortable being myself. It was to be about how I was more confident and less scared and slowly but surely learning to be open about who I am, with the guidance of older LGBTQ+ folks. It was meant to be a celebration of how far I’d come and how proud I was of both my identity and of my progress towards accepting that identity. It was about how I felt at peace.
And now I feel like most of my progress has been stripped away. I don’t know. It’s frustrating. Recent events made me wake up to reality, I guess. Everyone tells me that I’m too idealistic, too innocent and trusting.
I have tried so hard to unlearn my old habits of hiding myself and pretending to be someone I was not. It’s hard, so hard. I am not a naturally outgoing person to begin with, so the idea of being open about something that so many people still hate and mock was incredibly intimidating.
In some of my other recent posts, I’ve mentioned how I was a fool to think that that much had changed, and now I see that this is true both for the world at large and for me. I didn’t know anyone who died or was wounded in Orlando. I’ve never even been to Florida. But I don’t know a single LGBTQ+ person who isn’t shaken up about that event, who hasn’t had to rethink some of what they’d grown accustomed to.
That post which I referred to earlier was meant to be about how much I’d grown. It was meant to be a list enumerating all the ways in which I’d grown happy and comfortable, and begun to feel safe, and so on and so forth. And, well, it’s still going to be a list. That part of it hasn’t changed. But much of the rest of it has.
But as much as I want to give up, I’m not going to. I’m not going to be foolish, of course – I’m probably going to be more cautious about who I’m out to, for example, as much as I’d rather not have to worry about that – but I am a work in progress and so I’m going to keep making progress in terms of accepting myself and being comfortable with who I am.
Something I think about a lot is what it would be like if I’d been born in a different time, in the future. I was talking about that with one of my friends the other day, actually. At times I get so sad and upset because it just doesn’t seem fair that if the world ever gets better for people like me, I’ll either be super old or more likely dead. It’s not gonna happen for a long long time, and I hate that. It sucks. And I don’t know what to do about that, and that sucks too. I can work to make things better, but the world will never be as loving as I’d like it to within my lifetime, and sometimes it feels deeply unfair that future generations are the only ones who have the hope of seeing the world as I would like it to be.
It seems as though all I can do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, being a work in progress and making the best out of a bad situation. I think I will go to Pride this year after all, because some of my friends are going and I know I’ll feel more comfortable if I’m with them, but it’s really amazing how much one event changed my outlook on life. I guess that my idea of making progress was to see the world through rose-tinted glasses, and that’s just… not going to work anymore.
I mean, I’m still going to daydream about the day when things get better, and feel all warm and fuzzy when I think about meeting my future wife, but I need to balance all that with reality. And that’s what Pride is all about, isn’t it? It’s happy, yes, but it’s also mixed with sadness and anger because we keep having to fight back. I guess the best thing I can say about this whole situation is that I’m glad I came to this realization now rather than later – at nineteen rather than, like, thirty-nine – because if I’d realized it years on down the line it would have been harder to deal with.
P.S. My friend Michael Waters wrote a really amazing piece for MTV about an experience similar to the one I discussed in this post, about being sheltered and having all that stripped away. You should go read it!