"Love thy neighbor as thyself."When thinking of that phrase, we often forget the "as thyself" part. Before coming to terms with being gay and learning to accept and love myself, I didn't express love very easily. In fact, I'm not sure how much I felt it. Saying "I love you" was pretty much reserved for my immediate family. But at the time, I hated myself. I didn't love myself, so how could I love others like myself?
That has changed now. And the way I feel about people... it really is love, and I know it. I feel it. It is different from the way I felt towards people before. It isn't conditional. I guess it is charity. I think I've just learned a little more about what it means to have charity.
I would have never thought that to have charity, you must first learn to love yourself. Love yourself with all of your flaws, your imperfections, and your mistakes. In the end charity is the only thing that can be counted on. Just like the scripture says... eventually your knowledge will fail you and God will surprise you. Sometimes prophets, although inspired, err in their prophecies. But real charity never fails. Not even when it turns out your son or your brother or your friend is gay."Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
Today I can say I love you comfortably to friends and even sometimes strangers, and I am being completely sincere. Just five months ago I would be uncomfortable saying those words except to a handful of people. I love you.