Saturday, December 7, 2013

On Fire

I can't tell you how many times I have to stop myself.  How many times I'm so angry about something that has to do with my being gay, that I want to get on this blog and let someone have it, because he needs the shit kicked out of him, or he needs to be shaken violently, until his brain cells fall into place so he can think clearly, like a rational human being.  Or I just need, for my own mental well-being, to relieve the pressure inside, because I'll go insane if I don't.

The recent crackdown on gay people in Russia (imagine what it's like to be gay there now); the way too many countries on the African continent treat their gay and lesbian citizens, even executing them because of who they love; the young people all over North America who are bullied into committing suicide; even the gay bashings you hear about from time to time in our largest cities, where, supposedly, people are more accepting of each other's differences.  Every one of these–and so many more–enrage me, set me on fire.  And I want more than anything to get on my blog, to use my voice, to rave about them, to go on and on if I have to, until the poison leaves my body, and I can put one foot in front of the other and function again.     

But I made the decision a couple of years ago to change the tone of what I write here, to take the high road, to be positive and uplifting, to write about things that build-up rather than tear-down.  I no longer wanted to be like some other bloggers, angry all the time, using their platforms to sound off, to figuratively kick people in the head.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I just wanted to be different.  I wanted to create a safe place for gay and lesbian people, particularly young people, as luck would have it, to turn to.  To know that, when they came here, they'd hopefully leave feeling better about themselves and their lives and the world they live in.  They'd find the strength to get through whatever's going on in their lives.   

To repeat, this doesn't mean that I never feel like those who use their blogs to express their anger.  In fact, I feel like them all the time, especially when I see or read about some of the fucked up stuff going on in the world.  Here's the most recent example. 

Yesterday, I watched a video by a young Canadian named Michael Gorlick.  Briefly, after Michael lived in Vancouver for a year or so, he got to the point where, at the age of twenty-two, he couldn't take it anymore.  His life was consumed by depression.  He'd accepted that he was gay, but, because he was so scared, he hadn't been able to come out to any of his family and friends.  Throughout his depression, he'd called his mother in Ontario, and she'd been a godsend in helping him get through it.  But he hadn't been able to share the reason why he was in despair in the first place.     

Finally, he decided the time was now.  He packed up his car and drove through the northern United States to get back home to Toronto.  His plan was to sit down with every family member, starting with his mom, and friend to tell them about himself, an act I don't need to tell you takes an enormous amount of courage, more than most straight people will ever know.  And that's what he did, taping each one, which he shares in his video.  Watching each coming out moment, I couldn't help but be nervous for him, as I waited for someone to turn on him, reject him outright, because all he did was say he's gay. 

It never happened.  Every person Mike spoke to, each one individually (the courage!), accepted him, embraced him, told him that they loved him, knew all along he was gay, and were so proud of him for taking this critical step toward being who he was always meant to be, toward getting on with the rest of his life.

The love extended to Mike was extraordinary.  I felt it through the video.  And I gave it back.  I loved Mike for what he was doing, for how brave he was, and for sharing his coming out experience in such detail, so it could benefit other people, those who are also gay and have yet to come out, and those who could one day find themselves sitting across from someone like Mike and hear the words, "I'm gay"–filled with all the desperation and the hope and the love one can muster.  What an amazing young man Mike was.  What an amazing man or woman any of us is when we have to go through this.

Which is what got me so angry.  Here we are, in 2013, nearly thirty years after I came out.  And still, STILL, people have to come out.  People have to go through what I did all those years ago, what Mike had to go through recently, what people have had to go through for decades, if not longer.  Can a straight person, who has never had to come out to anyone about his sexuality, ever know what it's like to face one of the most important people in his life and say, "I'm gay"?

There is no equivalent for straight people.  Straight people haven't got a clue.  They don't have to offer themselves up like that, make themselves so vulnerable to the possible prejudices and bigotry of people who have no idea what it's like to be gay.  For straight people–the majority of our population–it's just assumed they're straight, and they get to go on with their lives.  No soul searching.  No anguish for years and years.  No having to accept a part of themselves that so many still find loathsome.  No depression.  No despair.  No thoughts of suicide.  No possibility of rejection.  No having to come out, time and after time after time, throughout their entire lives, to new people they meet–friends, co-workers, long lost Aunt Mabel.  No fuss, no muss.  Ain't life easy.

It should be that easy for all of us.

Why does even one gay human being have to go through this torturous process?  Why, considering how things have improved so much for gay people, particularly in North America, is coming out still necessary?  Why don't we just accept people as they are, gay, straight, whatever?  Why do we even care what one's sexual orientation is?  Why do we make the assumption people are straight, until we put them in the regrettable position of having to tell us otherwise?  

When is this fucking nonsense going to end?  When?  WHEN?             


  1. It will end, but only when we as a species, gay or straight, realize and fully embrace the truth that...."The path to self-acceptance is merely a path to finding love within you. No matter who you are, everyone has something that they struggle with. Learning to allow yourself to be human and love yourself regardless is true self-acceptance. It is only through accepting yourself for all the things you are and anything you aren't that you can allow others to embrace you". (Tyler Curry)

    I can only speak from my own life experiences when I say that a straight person's life is not easy. I have struggled with many issues in my lifetime although sexual identity has not been one of them. I have had to struggle with bullying because I was fat, enduring the humility of being sexually abused as a teenager and being shunned by family members because I choose to be a practicing Mormon. Today I live my life in such a way that the scars of my past do not define who I am now.

    It took me a lot of years to learn to accept myself for all the things I am and all the thing I'm not. I realize that the road to my eternity is always under construction and although my life has not been easy I wouldn't change it. It has helped mould me into who I am today; and I think I'm a pretty good person.


    1. Loretta, I'm so grateful for your generous spirit. Thank you for being there, for your kindness, and for being you.

      Yes, Curry's quote is a good one, isn't it? And it works perfectly with your point.

      Of course, I didn't mean to suggest that life for straight people is any easier than it is for gay people. I know it's not. But in one significant way, it is. Even you have to admit that.

      I still have my challenges with being gay, at least from time to time, but my greatest concern is for young gay people, who, even today, have to endure what I went through all those years ago.

      Why aren't things better for them, so they don't have to come out, so their lives bear no scars from the experience of being different in a way that is still unacceptable to far too many people?

      It's the young people, the young people today, that my heart goes out to. I don't want them to go through what I did. They shouldn't have to.

      Have we gotten nowhere in the last thirty years? Can we not have at least one generation of young people who can just focus on being human beings and not have to worry about who they love?

      That's all I ask for. That's all.

      Again, thank you so much. You are a special friend. And I appreciate your honesty and your kindness.

    2. Dear Rick,

      The reason things aren't better for the young people of today is because there will always be narrow minded, short sighted, judgemental people on the earth. It has been this way since the beginning of time and I expect will be so until the end of time.

      I wish that as a species we were becoming more compassionate, more loving, more caring, more kind, more understanding, more accepting, but I know that is not the reality. I witness cruelty, unkindness, and complete disrespect for people on a daily basis. The children of yesterday, who are the adults of today have, in my observation, not changed at all or have changed very little.

      That being said, it is my choice not to be like that. I choose to live my life filled with as many loving qualities as I possibly can. I have not been placed on this earth to judge anyone. It is not in my personality to hurt anyone intentionally. I choose to love those whom I love, to associate with those whom I choose to associate with and I choose to be the best person I can be regardless of what anyone else thinks of me. The only standard I live up to is the one I set for myself.

      Our own self-acceptance is dependant on our loving ourselves first. We all agree on this. It has taken me, a straight person, decades to achieve. In achieving it I have gained the freedom of knowing that regardless of what anyone thinks of me I have just as much right to be taking up space on this planet as the next person. Young people, and especially young gay people need to know this too. They have a right to be here.

      I love your blog, and I'm so grateful we're friends. We must get together the next time I'm on the mainland, or if you come to the island.

      Much love

    3. Loretta, you are absolutely amazing. Your comment is filled with compassion, insight, and love. All of these come through so strongly in your words. I'm a blessed man to call you my friend.

      Thank you so much for your interest in my blog and for your friendship. Who knew that, after all these years, we'd come together again in a blog? Wow!

      And, yes, let's see about getting together. Chris and I rarely return to the Island, but you never know.