I grew up in a home with a father that thought molestation was right and approved by God, but that two guys who loved each other was wrong. I grew up in a home with a brother that molested me for most of my early life, and yet he views me as a sinful person before God.
I struggled for a long time that I might be gay. I was afraid I would burn in hell and forever be the scorn of everyone in the world. At the same time, I didn't even know what it was. I just knew that girls were not sexual creatures to me. They were just someone that I wanted to hang out with, but in no way wanted a sexual relationship. Ewww... yuck.... Sorry, but that's the way I feel.
For a long time, I ridiculed other gays and made fun of them. I was afraid of them. I thought they were all child molesters because that is what I had grown up with and been taught. I was afraid the gays were going to jump me in the shadows or corner me in a restroom. I was always on guard for these evil creatures.
As I began to heal my life from all the abuse I had been through, I continued to fight with the question "am I gay?" I had psychiatrists and others tell me I was not. I had friends who told me that I liked girls and really gave me that "disapproving eye of behavior" if I suggested anything but liking girls. I had some friends who fought to tear me apart from the person that I love. They apparently thought that if I would take a job in the opposite part of the state, I would see the error of my ways.
Even as I met the love of my life, I remember going back home on an airplane, crying most of the way. How could I love another guy? That was wrong, I told myself! Its what I had been taught by my family and the church. To be gay was an abomination before God. You would go to hell for sure.
As I traveled home after that first meeting, I knew I had fallen in love with my soul mate. I fell hard and fast. Yet, I struggled because I hated myself so much for being gay. How could I let God and my family and the world down. So, at first, we didn't say the "G" word (GAY). We just enjoyed being with each other. It took forever for me to start accepting who I was and sometimes I still hide it.
Before I met my soul mate, I spent far too many moments going to adult video stores. I didn't know how to explore the gay side of my life and I had to keep it secret. I would think I needed to date women to be a normal guy, but my dating relationships (the few that I had) always ended. Nothing lasted and they never got physical. I feel for those people who were hurt by my inability to be myself.
I would go out and drink and then go to a strip club to prove that I was a man. I did things that I'd rather not mention in public just to prove I was a man. Unfortunately after those moments, I would find myself having anonymous sex with guys in an adult video store. I almost got caught and arrested a few times, but fortunately escaped just in the nick of time.
Through all of this time, I longed for Love. I longed for someone to hold me and want me. It was not until I was 35 that I finally met this person that rocked my world so hard that I began to finally accept that which I was. I had some friends that readily accepted it as if they always knew and I had to deal with the fallout which led me into a deeper depression.
It took me a long time to begin telling many people because I was so ashamed of it because of what I had been taught. At the same time, politicians were beginning to use it to motivate voters which further drove me into despair. If you think being gay is easy or its a choice, think again! It is anything but easy or a choice. If it was a choice, don't you think most of us would choose differently and not have to endure all that we go through in this world?
In many ways, I understand the thoughts that many have about someone who is gay. I was one of those people. It isn't easy to understand if you're gay, let alone if you're not.
Having to hide from it all my life isn't easy either. There are job situations that I have to keep it quiet. There are moments that I've had people ridicule me and make fun of it, thinking that this is an accepted thing to do. I've had to deal with being single in the office Christmas parties, but not able to bring my "boyfriend". I could name the many ways in which you can't easily be open without the fear of repercussions.
I never cared much for coming out to the world, but I do care about being able to love the one that I love without the fear of being beat up, or ridiculed or screamed at by righteous Christians. To think that gay people don't experience this and much more is to live a sheltered life. Thankfully, it looks like the tide of horror may be starting to turn.
If you hate gays or think they are an abomination before God, that's your choice. However, before you judge me, please know that the same God you believe in that made you, also made me. I am who I am. I am nothing more than I am or nothing less than others think I am. I am who I am. If your Bible tells you to hate me, then I think you have missed reading its true purpose in its entirety.
For a long time I wondered that if the reason I was gay was because I was abused. One wise person helped me to understand that being a guy abused by a female makes you no more straight than a guy abused by a male makes you gay. There is great truth in that statement.
There isn't a day that goes by where I see just how much I have to "hold in" and "hide" myself from being gay. I can't walk down the store isle holding hands with my partner. I can't act too gay in some places because there is a very real chance we might not make it out of a dark street without being beat up. We can't show too much of our gay side in our neighborhood because as many others have found, your property gets defaced. In some instances, the police are called if gays act to gay in public and by that, it could be nothing more than sitting together in a park on a park bench.
I still remember the local children's home that wanted me to volunteer to work with the children until they found out that I was gay. While they found ways to dance around the subject, I would have basically had to put that part of my life in a lock box. It ripped my heart in two. I just wanted to help kids that needed a chance. Just because I"m gay, it doesn't mean I'm a child molester. There are plenty of straight people that are child molesters. Child molestation has nothing to do with being gay or straight.
I've known for most of my life I was different. Sears catalogs were my friends that allowed me to dream and see things that I couldn't share with my family. I knew that by the time I was in 8th grade that I was attracted to boys much more than girls. I knew I was very sensitive and I enjoyed activities that society didn't deem to be appropriate for a boy. I hid it all and tried to act as straight as I could. No one could dare know my secret.
What saddens me is watching people I know who have been kicked out of their homes at an early age and forced to live on the streets because their family didn't approve of who they were. What God approves of this type of parental love, if you can call it that? There are far too many that I have known over the years who were kicked out by the age of 16. Ignorance is alive and well.
What also saddens me is that we are so busy talking about how much we hate gays and the gay lifestyle (and when I say gay, I mean GLBT), that the younger gays are learning about love and relationships and sex in the nightclub scene. Its the only place they feel accepted. Unfortunately what is taught about love and relationships in those places isn't the healthiest.
I feel like I have meandered all over the place in writing this blog post, but I just feel like it is important to begin saying more about this. Not all gay people are the flamboyant ones singled out by the TV news cameras. Most of us are normal every day people that are your neighbors, friends, brothers, and sisters. There is a good chance that even if you don't know who is gay around you that they may be closer than you think.
I want a world where it doesn't matter what religion we are or whether we are gay or straight, republican or democrat, muslim or non muslim or male or female. I want a world where we embrace our differences and celebrate the uniqueness that each one of us brings to our days.
In November, I will finally be able to marry the person that I have already spent the last 15 years of my life.
Blog Post And Images (c) 1/24/15 by Don Shetterly
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