I didn’t have a name for it
I didn’t grow up gay. Yes I know now that I was gay back then but I had repressed my feelings so much that I didn’t have a name for what I was. I Wasn’t like those others. I rejected the very idea that I could be gay. It’s not any one person’s fault. I was a product of my environment. I was a product of the cultural programming I experienced. I’ve had conversations with my family since coming out. They’ve expressed how hurt they were that I didn’t feel like I could confide in them. It’s hard to explain that it wasn’t their love I doubted. I couldn’t even admit the truth to myself so why would I admit it to them? I didn’t want it to be true. Admitting it to them would have made it true. Admitting that I was gay to anyone would have meant I had to face that _I_ was gay.
Even when I started to face it I never said I was “Gay”. I said I had “homosexual desires”. I was helped along in that self deception by the people I did seek out to try and help me. I never embraced those desires as part of my own identity. Those desires were always supposed to be separate evil things that God would one day remove from me if I was faithful enough. Think about that for a second.
One of the things that we as a people use most to identify ourselves culturally is who we fall in love with and there I was completely cut off from embracing that part of myself. I was in fact actively rejecting that part of myself. I had loving supportive family members and yet I had absorbed enough homophobia that I couldn’t accept my own desires. Is it any wonder that LGBTQI youth have a higher rate of suicide than heteronormative young people?
The process of coming to accept then embrace then love who I am took years. It began with a change in vocabulary. All of my understanding of what it meant to be gay came from TV during the midst of the AIDS epidemic, the evangelical communities description of Homosexuals receiving their judgment from God, and my observation of the closeted, desperate, and mostly alcoholic gay sailors I came in contact with in the Navy. As you might guess that did not provide me with a very high opinion of homosexuality. Words like fag, fairy, butch, dyke, and homo where not compliments.
I most closely resembled a “dyke” in looks and temperament. In the Navy I could get kicked out for being gay. A dishonorable discharge. That happening would reduce everything I had worked and sacrificed for to nothing. My 4.0 evals and service awards would mean nothing. There would be no mitigating circumstances or second chances if someone accused me of being gay. It would be their testimony against mine and since I looked and sounded gay I’d be out.
All of that was an undercurrent in my life and filtered all of my decisions from getting married to getting involved with an Ex-Gay ministry. Once the dissonance became to much I didn’t have anywhere to go. So I got as far away from that type of thinking as possible. I literally just buried everything as far as I could. I didn’t think about it. I was married and that was that. Even if I did find women sexually appealing it didn’t matter. I was married. End of story.
To be continued…