27 October 2010

PE: My Story Part 1- The Early Years

I grew up in California in a typical Mormon home. I knew very well what was expected of me and that my life was pretty much planned out until I turned 21. I don't remember ever not wanting to go to church in my childhood. I never got into trouble. Everyone loved me. I was that kid who was an example to all the other boys.

I was also a perfectionist. So while all these adults were telling me how wonderful I was, and as I listened to them discuss what a bright future I'd have, what they thought was building me up was really just the beginning of the destruction of my soul. I know, dramatic right? In early elementary school I didn't know why I was different, so the struggle over homosexuality wasn't an issue. However, I did know that I wasn't was great as everyone seemed to think I was. But they loved me, and I needed that. So I'd try my hardest to please them, to meet their expectations which I never seemed to do because they would raise the bar higher and higher out of my reach. I was so afraid to fail.

In elementary school I don't really remember much honestly. I do remember that during recess you'd most-likely find me on the bars with the girls doing flips and hanging upside down and spinning around and around. I wasn't on the field with the boys. I didn't find this odd at the time, it was just what I liked to do. I didn't draw any connection that bars = a girl thing and sports = a boy thing.

Eventually though, well before the age of 12, I began to recognize my interest in boys. Even then, I remember being sexually attracted to the same sex (even though, at the time, I didn't know what those words meant or how to interpret my feelings). I had also made a habit of having female friends and stayed far away from most boys. I knew I was different from them. They sensed it. I was teased. I was chosen last for the team. I remember the fear and embarrassment that would come over me when I heard the teacher say "captains, choose your teams." The only thing that saved me was the annoying kid that no one liked. I was likable and kind enough. Just not ideal for sports.

By the time puberty began, I started to get a grasp on what these feelings meant for me. I knew that if I felt those things, there was something wrong with me. I also began to understand what "gay" meant and that it was never a good thing. Abomination, unnatural, like murder, disgusting, perverted. People hated gays. But people loved me. I was not one of "those." So I pushed it away. I convinced myself it was nothing and that it would just go away. I wanted to belong and be liked and I knew this wouldn't do. I didn't know then that I was locking a part of me away that was connected to my sense of worth, my self-confidence, my spirit, and my emotions. After the age of 12 (a year in which I cried a lot... almost nightly for several months) I could no longer cry. It didn't matter how much I wanted to. I physically could not manage it.


Alyson said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I have two boys and work with boys at church and hate the thought that any boy would be caught in a private dilemma that leaves him with no one he feels he can talk to or trust. Right now, I think the most I can do is make sure my boys know that having homosexual attractions or being gay isn't wrong and whatever their own attractions are, teaching them to love and respect others, not to fear them. It's scary that children and youth could be growing up in desperate need of support and have none. I'm glad you're doing well and sharing your experiences because you'll educate a lot of people and make life better for so many others. Thanks for blogging!

Steven Lester said...

It is harder for your generation then it was for mine. These days everybody knows what "gay" means and what homosexuality is and it is, seemingly, often a topic of discussion. It is "out there".

In my day, nobody knew what it was. It was never discussed, or defined in any way, not even during Health and Safety in High School. The only definition I could find within the entire course book was in the back in the definition section, but darned if I could find any mention of it within the pages themselves.

Therefore, people knew that I was different, but didn't really know why, and I was aware of the incredibly powerful attraction I felt for the shirtless guys in my gym class, but I didn't know where it was coming from. We were all so naive.

I grew up as a loner because of the intrinsic difference between me and all the others, and so they left me alone and never abused me for it. I also never, for the same reason, sought out any kind of romantic relationship with another guy. I had had a strong religious upbringing and knew what was appropriate behavior and what wasn't, with girl or guy, so I was saved by that. Because I never had had a relationship with anybody I assumed I wasn't really gay, at least until 15 years ago when my best friend broke the news that he was. Then I knew for sure in comparison to him, but I still have never done anything with it romantically. You young guys are hormonically pushed into that kind of thing, but at my age things are way far from being hot, or even warm.

Your generation is so much more aware of things. This makes it much harder for you than it was for me. Let's hear it for education!

Gay Mormon said...

@Steven- That is a really interesting perspective. I have thought about that in the past. I figured it was harder because there was even less discussion about it. But I guess if people didn't even know what "it" was, it would have been completely different.

Question. Certainly as you grew older you heard about what being "gay" meant. Did you ever wonder or suspect? I'd be interested in hearing more.

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