Friday, April 17, 2009
Through the Eyes of an Openly Gay Man
As an openly gay man living in the world today, there are so many prejudices to get past and so many myths that we have to work hard to disprove. What many people in this world fail to realize is that, before we came out to live our lives as who we really are, we were just like you; we were your friends and family, neighbors and co-workers.
There is one defining day in the life of a person living in the LGBT community. One single day in our entire life will, for some people, make or break how the rest of our life plays out. Thankfully, I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a great group of friends and family that I have surrounded myself with over the years; they are all very supportive of every thing that I do in life. My decision to finally come out was not an easy one, but it was something that needed to happen. For anyone, making the decision to finally come out is not an easy one. It can sometimes take years and years of struggling with your own personal demons to finally come to terms with the fact that you're going to be living a very different lifestyle than those around you.
While I can't speak for every gay person in the world, what finally pushed me "out of the closet" was the fact that I couldn't stand living a lie any longer. While you can be yourself to some extent before you come out, you can never truly live your life because of what you're hiding from the rest of the world. If I'm being completely honest, telling everyone my biggest secret was terrifying. It's something that, once the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, you can't take back.
When I made what I consider to be the ground-breaking first step, I couldn't even say it, I had to write it down. After that, the person that it took the most courage to tell was my dad. I cried like you wouldn't believe when it came time to finally tell him. After he and I had become so close, I didn't want to let him down. He reassured me that he was going to be there for me regardless and let me know that nothing had or was ever going to change between the two of us. Considering the level hesitation that I felt with the first person that I let in to that part of my life, it has become easier and easier with each person that I tell. This experience is unlike any other that I can think of. The coming out process is something a gay person will be doing this for the rest of his/her life.
The vast majority of people who choose to come out, especially teenagers, face the possibility of rejection from friends and family. Being faced with this rejection can push them in to different stages of depression, and can possibly push them to consider, or even commit suicide. For just such reasons, programs like The Trevor Project have been created and are available for gay and questioning youth who feel that they have no one left to turn to.
Recently, we have seen both defeat and victory in the battle for equality. The first major blow was Proposition 8 in California, reversing and banning the same-sex decision that was put in to effect by the California Supreme Court. Since then, several states have granted same-sex couples the same rights as the other citizens of the individual states. Among the most recent, Iowa, by way of the state Supreme Court was the first state in the Midwest to grant equal rights. Vermont, however, made history by being the first state in the Union to grant equal rights on a legislative level. The Supreme Court of California must rule by June 3, 2009 on the legal status of same-sex marriages in that state. One would assume that, since the Supreme Court was the body that made them legal the first time in California, they will make them legal once again. Although we still have a long way to go in this country before all is well, and while we'll never be able to forget what so many have gone through to get us to this point in history, I firmly believe that a major change is coming our way.
With time, we will inevitably get past the prejudices that are currently making headlines today. It's hard to believe that this is going to be the last great struggle for equality this country will ever see, but I have faith that we will learn from the mistakes we've made in handling situations like this. I suppose that only time will tell, but I've got a good feeling that things will start to turn around.