Friday, September 7, 2012

Accept Yourself as a Gay or Lesbian Person

Recently, I received an email from a twenty-seven-year-old woman struggling mightily with accepting the possibility she might be a lesbian.    

What prompted her to write was a post she'd read of mine, in which I ask pointed questions to prompt the gay individual to consider what is the absolute worst thing that could happen if he or she is gay.

My reader had plenty to say on the subject, and her thoughts and feelings came across as not only conflicted but tortured.  The pain she felt was palpable, and my heart went out to her, because I knew she didn't need to feel the way she did.

For several days after I read her email, I thought about how I should respond, and last evening, I sat down to connect with her.  It was perhaps one of the most passionate responses I've ever offered–where I basically pounded it out on my keyboard, letting the emotions take me where they did and dictate what I should say–and I want to share that with you here, in its raw form.

My sincere hope is that something in what I've written will help you down the long path toward accepting yourself as a gay or lesbian person.  My words are from the heart, and my intention is to reach yours with them.  

Living in Canada, being out of the closet for over twenty-five years, and in a relationship for twenty of those, perhaps it's easy for me to say this, but where I saw the answer to this question going was:  Unless someone dies as a result of your being gay, then being gay is not as bad as you think it is.  And you know what?  It really isn't. 

I can't presume to know the circumstances of every single gay and lesbian person living around the world and reading my blog, but, with the perspective I have on being gay now, at my age, I can tell you it's nothing more than a facet of who I am.  Being gay is neither good nor bad, despite what your family, friends, co-workers, culture, religion, or even you might think.  Being gay simply is.  As a gay person, you should bring no judgment to being gay.  It's time to stop fighting what you are.

If you are gay–which it sounds like you are–then be gay.  You might think now that being gay is the end of the world, but I assure you it isn't.  Many, many people from every corner of the globe have accepted their sexual orientation, and they are getting along just fine.  And guess what?  You will too.  

No one is saying there won't be sacrifices.  No one is saying you couldn't possibly lose family members or friends or loved ones along the way.  But, if you do, on the basis of your sexual orientation alone, then they weren't yours to begin with.  Their love for you was conditional.  If they are truly yours, they will love you, all of you, including your gayness, because that's a part of you.  It's really that simple.

You may not believe this, but, in most cases, the only thing preventing gay people from accepting themselves…is themselves.  Think about that.  

Sure, other people in your life may not want you to be gay.  Maybe they think hell and damnation will befall you, in this life or the next, because you love someone of the same gender and, yes, even have sexual relations with someone of the same gender.  But they are wrong.  

There are many gay and lesbian people out there already who have lived openly gay lives for years, and their lives have not fallen apart.  The earth hasn't opened up and swallowed them. They are going about the business of being who and what they are in the very same way you are, with the only difference being that they've accepted who they are.  They recognized that there is nothing wrong with them because they're gay, and they're right.  Nothing is wrong with them.  Despite what those around them might think or say. 

The bottom line is, you can't live your life for everyone else.  You only go around once–one time–and you are responsible for living it the very best way you know how.  For a gay or lesbian person, that is being authentic according to who and what he or she is.  It's only once you live authentically that you will fulfill the purpose for which you were put here.  

So stop obsessing about being gay, and cut yourself some slack.  You are perfect just the way you are, and don't you forget it.

It's obvious you are conflicted about your sexuality (I hear the pain in what you write).  Maybe you'll discover you're bisexual, but, based on what you've written, you're probably a lesbian.  

So make the shift in your head that that's what you are, and get on with the business of being it. Only you can do that for yourself.  We still live in a world where your country and your culture and some of the people in your life will never give you permission to be gay.  So you must give that permission to yourself.  

If that's what you are, then be it.  End of story.  Stop riding the fence.  Stop thinking you must be one way when you're not.  The only difference between a gay person who accepts herself and a gay person who doesn't accept herself is a shift in how she sees herself.  

Start thinking more positively about who you are–all of you, not just your sexual orientation–and you will find self-acceptance.  It's there for you when you want it, when you're ready to take it.  Take responsibility for yourself.  

Ironically, you don’t think you have control over this, but only you have control over it.  To hell with everything in your life that tells you being a lesbian is wrong.  To hell with all of that.  You have bent enough to the whims of everyone else (which accounts for why you are so conflicted).  Now, you must be yourself.

My blog is full of posts that would probably do you a lot of good.  You suffer from the same thing virtually every gay person does: self-loathing.  

Well, it’s time to change all that.  Take a look at what I’ve written under the heading of “Self Esteem.”  Read how I learned to accept and love myself.  If I can come from where I was–hating every single thing about myself and believing I was little better than a worm in the garden–then you can too.  Don’t delay one more day.  Open your heart to what I say.  Keep telling yourself you are perfect just the way you are.  

At twenty-seven years old, you’ve already wasted too much time hating who you are because of your sexual orientation.  There’s no reason to let the hating continue.  Accept that you are gay, that the sun will still come up tomorrow, and get on with living your life as fully and as authentically and as passionately as you can.  The world is waiting for you to be everything you are.  Don’t make it wait one second longer.

I sincerely hope this has helped, but there is only so much any one person can do for you.  The rest is up to you.  I hope you see that.  Self-acceptance is nothing more than taking responsibility for yourself.  It's as simple as that.

My thoughts are with you.  You really can do this.  I know you can.