Monday, June 27, 2011

Love Is Why We're Here

Sometimes, a comment I receive is so poignant, heartfelt, and powerful, it must not get lost amongst everything on my blog.  Sometimes, it must be featured in a post itself, so everyone has the chance to see it.  Sometimes, it speaks about not just the writer's pain but about pain common to many.  One such comment arrived early this morning, attached to a post I published on Friday titled "Rick's Ten Observations About Love," from a young man in Indonesia, who goes by the name Aries Boy.

He started the comment by saying that what I'd written had made him cry, "...maybe because somehow what u're saying was right."  Aries Boy said he'd fallen in love with another fellow who was two years younger than him but more mature.  In his own words, he wrote:

I loved him very much, but...I broke his heart.  I pushed him away.  I told myself that I didn't need love, from him or from anyone.  So, I just ended our relationship over the phone, without even letting him...ask why.  I was such an asshole.  I know it.  I was too selfish and I was too proud of myself.  Days later, I realized that I did need him.  I did need his care, his smile, his hug, and so on.

But again, I'm living in such a hypocrite country.  I'm in the middle of the society who teach us, generation by generation, that being gay is a big sin.  It's forbidden.  It's doomed.  I don't wanna make some excuses here, but believe me somehow those skeptical things could lead a gay guy, just like me, to hate himself.  And in the end, it could lead someone to hate everyone else.

Almost every morning, I started my day by crying.  The triggers were usually random.  But, yeah, I cried for my "gayness."  And in the middle of the night, I cried again.  For the same exact reason.  I'm just hoping that it'll be easier for me to accept the fact I was born this way.  So from that point, I can move on with my life.  And I don't have to blame anyone or anything else for it.

What I see here is a young man doing nothing more than what young men do--falling in love.  A natural enough impulse.  Except for a young man who is gay.  And I don't need to tell you, in our world, that presents Aries Boy, and millions of other men just like him, with a series of challenges, virtually all of them rooted in self-hatred stemming from the message that homosexuality is, as Aries Boy puts it, a sin, forbidden, and doomed.

Little about love for gay men is free, or natural, or easy.  So much of the world conspires to make it as difficult for us as possible, using religion and an inaccurate interpretation of God's word, hoping we'll come to our senses, expecting we'll see the evil of our ways, trying to turn us into something we're not and never will be.

And, from my perspective, the worst part is, on some level, we accept what's said about us, about who and what we are.  We internalize it, and the feelings of self-loathing it generates within us come back time and again to sabotage and cripple and destroy us.  The result is, our lives become so messed up, we do everything we can to hurt ourselves, including abusing substances, indulging in promiscuity, engaging in risky sexual behavior, and, yes, pushing people away who want to love us, because we don't believe we're worthy of it.  (Recently, I read that many gay men continue to engage in risky sexual practices because they believe they deserve to contract HIV/AIDS and die.  If that isn't the ultimate in self-loathing, I don't know what is.)

And, so, to Aries Boy, and to countless gay men like him, young and old alike, I pray you heed my message, the one I've written about here since the beginning of this year and reinforced over and over;  the one that gives me a reason to get up every morning because I know how much work remains to be done; the one the reaction to which tells me what I'm doing here is helpful and necessary.

Learn to shut off the negative messages of the world related to your sexual orientation.  Learn to reject that which does not originate from a place of love (as opposed to judgement).  And, above all else, please, PLEASE, make learning to accept and to respect and to love yourself your goal, your reason for being each and every day.

You will do nothing more important in your life, I promise you, than learn to love yourself. Because everything you are and do will be affected by that.  Without love for yourself, everything will be empty and meaningless.  Without love for yourself, everything will be half-assed.  Without love for yourself, you will never be the whole, loving human being you were born to be.  And, as Aries Boy writes so beautifully, without loving yourself, you will tell yourself you don't need love, from anyone and, regrettably, will push it away when it presents itself to you.

Today, resolve to make this madness stop.  You MUST learn to love yourself.  You MUST allow other people to love you.  We are here for no other reason.


For those of you with no idea what specific steps you can take to learn how to love yourself, please look at these posts I wrote earlier this year, describing some of the work I did to accept and love myself.

I offer these suggestions with the utmost sincerity and hope, because I care deeply about what happens to you and how fulfilling your life is.  You deserve so much better than you have now, but you must understand how what you do has a direct impact on what you get.  Remember, every action has an opposite and equal reaction.  What you put out into the world will come back to you, good or bad.  That is why you must turn your self-loathing into self-love.  

Please open your heart to yourself and to those who want to love you.  Love is out there waiting for you, but the first step is yours.  Don't fail yourself.  Don't let yourself down.  

This is my "How to Love Yourself When You're Gay" series.*  I hope you find something in it that will be helpful.  


  1. Again, I have to thank you, Rick. Like always, you responded to my each comment. I do appreciate it.

    Actually, I'm still trying to do what you persistently told me to do: to accept me just the way I am. It's not an easy road and I think you know it too.

    Months ago, when I was on my temporary leave from my job, I went back to my hometown. I called it reconciliation days. In my deepest heart, at that time, I was hoping that I could just go back to the time where I didn't have to cry in the early morning nor in the late night because of my sexual orientation. I wished that I could back to the happy me. But it's never gonna happen. I am fully aware of that.

    So, I went to my dad's grave. We never had a long conversation before. And so do now. I just sat there and cried. Then I told him everything that I never had a chance to tell when he was still alive. I thought it supposed to at least relieve some burden that I was carrying on my back. But in the end, I felt like a failure. To him, to anyone. I spent hours there just by sitting and crying like an desperate boy.

    Back home, I saw my beloved Mom and my beloved siblings. Just like what happened between me and my Dad, I couldn't look at their eyes. I couldn't hurt them anymore. So, I just told them that I love them no matter what.

    Other than that, I also visited my old church, my old schools, and some other places that I ever visited when I was younger. I sat there and I told them my stories. I told the chairs. I told the trees. I told the class. And so on.

    Finally, I told my stories to God. Like on last Sunday service, I prayed for His guidance. I prayed for the strength. And I prayed for everyone that I love. I prayed that they would still the same exact amount of love for me when they, somehow in the future, find out who I really am.

    All I'm saying that the-accepting-me process that I'm still doing right now is not easy. There is no instant way to get to the finish line. It's just tricky and tiresome. But I'm grateful to have you as a friend. To remind me to stand when I fall. To give me courage when I am down.

    And yes, you are right. We all are here because of love.

  2. Hi, Aries Boy. Again, I'm deeply touched that you revealed to me what you're going through and how you feel. Obviously, I come across in a way that makes people like you feel comfortable enough to trust me, and that's reassuring, because I want to be there for anyone in pain. I want to hear what you have to say and to help in any way I can.

    I'm sure this comes across, but I have a tendency to want to fix everyone's problems. On a personal level, I feel your suffering, because of how difficult it is to accept yourself as a young, gay man. I was there myself not so long ago, and, when I read about your pain, I feel my own pain all over again. I don't know if that ever goes away.

    Sometimes, all people need is the chance to talk, to tell someone what they cannot tell anyone in their lives because they're scared they will be rejected or made to feel even worse about themselves. And, on that level, I can help you. I'm here for you one hundred percent, and for anyone who wants to share his or her story. And if my blog is not a personal enough place to do that, please consider sending me an email directly.

    But what you've written has inspired me again to write another post, this time about acceptance of one's sexual orientation. It's always my hope that, by writing about my own experience, readers, such as yourself, will see something in my story that will help them. Perhaps there are little pieces here and there they can use to lighten the load and to start down that long road to accepting themselves.

    So, in the next few days, I hope you'll return to my blog to look for that. In the meantime, when you're feeling really badly, I want you to sit still for a few moments and breathe. I want you to take deep breaths, one after the other, and try to clear your mind. Sometimes, when everything around us is crazy and we can't get hold of the situation or the emotions, all we have is our breath. And, you know what? It's enough. It really is.

    Again, I just read your words, and tears came to my eyes. Your pain is so deep and so clear, but I promise you will get through this. I know that because thousands upon thousands of people just like you have gone through similar circumstances, and they got through it. Not only that, they are so much happier now than they have ever been. You write that you'll never get back to the happy you, but you will. You will.

    Remember, God loves you as you are. I know your faith is strong, and you turn to God for guidance and help. He is not the judgemental God so many people think he is. He is the God who made you just as you are. He is the God who wants you to love yourself as much as He loves you. And He is the God who cries inside when he sees your anguish. He's also the God who wants you to accept yourself, but He can't make you do that. Only you can.

    I'll leave it at that for now. But please check back for that post. And please take to heart what I've written. You will get through this, and you'll be stronger than you ever thought you could be.

    Thanks for letting me be there for you.

  3. Setbacks are inevitable. Yesterday, I cried myself to sleep. This was caused by hard times as a beginner at work and news about a possible illness I may have. When it was time for sleep, I was emotionally worn-out. I just started crying and couldn't stop. Old wounds were ripped open again. My crying intensified... because I know I'm a faggot who deserves nothing more in life than death. But then I remembered how I had said one sentence to myself not too long ago: “I am tired of putting myself down in every opportunity I get.” That was the moment when I felt flames in me, my whole body started to shake and I yelled to myself: “I love myself, there is nothing I can't want in life, I'm capable of achieving everything I want and I'm entitled to everything that makes me feel happy.”
    Aries Boy, when you write that you will never be in this happy place again, it can be true. You will not have these perfect moments again, because they are part of your past. But if you think you can never feel happy again, then I know you are wrong. You will find happiness, but in new situations, in new ways, and I promise crying to sleep and waking up and crying again, it will stop. I have been there. I have felt too tired to wake up in the morning because I cried for two hours during the night. Sometimes I am still in this dark place. Sometimes I brake the promises I have made to myself, but it is OK. It means I am human. All that matter, are the lessons learnt from these times. If I would have the possibility to rewind time, I would start my university studies once again and more successfully. But I am only human, and the pain that I experienced during my first half of university years has made me more confident than I have ever been. At the moment I have a dream summer job, working as a young scientist for my home university. I have made horrible mistakes during my first work days, but I know I can overcome every situation I put myself into and I am not afraid to ask questions that would make me seem stupid. Every day I live, I become more and more myself. And I know that this statement is true about you too, Aries Boy.

  4. Elevencats, what a brave and heartfelt and poignant comment.

    During one of the few times since I started this blog, I was angry when I read your words, "I'm a faggot who deserves nothing more in life than death."

    How, from Estonia to Indonesia and beyond, have wonderful and worthy young men like you and Aries Boy been allowed to believe such bullshit because they're gay? How does humanity get away with it--with sending that message, with destroying your sense of self-worth, with breaking your spirit?

    How, in the name of Christianity, or God, or whatever, can humanity justify ruining people's lives to the extent that they believe they deserve to die for something over which they have no control? And how do we, as gay brothers, find ourselves in the situation of having to turn this around, hold our heads up, and move on with our lives?

    I was so relieved when you wrote, "I am tired of putting myself down every opportunity I get." Amen. This is called living consciously, as I've written about before. It's about having the moxie to realize what you're doing to yourself and to stop it, because you know you deserve better.

    I hope you realize what a great example you are to Aries Boy and to all young, gay men around the world like him. Both of you are so sweet and so kind and so deserving of all that is good in life. The advice you offer is exactly what I was in the process of writing in a new post, which I have yet to finish.

    And, now, just a bit of advice for you, something that's been a guiding principle throughout my life since I was in Mrs. Cassidy's creative writing class in grade twelve. A quote above her blackboard read:

    "He who asks a question is a fool for a few minutes; he who never asks a question is a fool forever."

    Think about that in your new job, when you believe you've asked yet another stupid question (which, of course, it isn't).

    My sincere thanks for helping Aries Boy, for becoming an official follower of my blog, for being the amazing young man that you are, and for your comment today.