Free To Be Me
For years, my life was a lie, to myself, and to all others. I grew up as a homosexual in an exceedingly conservative community, and no one else knew, for I kept it my most intimate and guarded secret. I begrudged that part of myself and resented everything to do with my homosexuality. I walked a slim path, constantly regulating my motions, words, and opinions, hiding from the sin I constantly heard my family insult and degrade. I was frightened - absolutely terrified as to what would happen if anyone ever found out. So instead of trying to understand myself, I crushed my sexuality into a palatable but red-hot steel ball, hiding it from all others, fighting alone the burn coming from within.
I lived a civil war, deflecting emotional missiles flying in from all directions. I became a hypocrite, condemning the homosexuals around me to ensure no one questioned my own sexuality. I was conflicted: was it biological, was it psychological? What made me become so wrong? In this way it continued, with my own fears and ideals pushing me to become a fractured myself.
My masquerade remained for years until, in a country completely foreign to my own, I encountered a moment that would change my life. As a huge cultural buff, I love traveling and learning about new people. When some friends informed me during a stay in France that they would soon be attending a friend’s wedding, I vehemently requested to tag along. They had said it would be a traditional Catholic wedding, and understanding my passion, agreed the opportunity was too great for me to miss. Soon enough, we excitedly poured into a beautiful stone cathedral, surrounded by innate glass and artwork, and looked down upon by men in bright scarlet robes: a quintessential Catholic setting. It was wonderful and yet I was completely ignorant of the monumental moment I was about to experience.
As the scene quieted, a man walked in front of the altar and took a place in front of the elegantly robed priest. Though I found it odd, I did not realize what it meant. As the wedding progressed, I quickly came to understand the life changing significance of the evening. As the room filled with tears of joy, I joined in, but not from happiness for the newly wedded couple. I cried on that day because, for the first time, I witnessed complete acceptance of a homosexual couple. I watched a Catholic priest bestow vows upon two gay men, without fear, hesitance, or, as I’d seen all my life, disgust. I felt the exultation of a massive cathedral filled with triumph over a gay marriage. I cried because, for the first time, I understood that my sexuality was not a sin, as I’d been told my whole life. I cried, because as I watched the marriage unfold before my eyes, I finally felt free from the convictions of my past: free to be me.
That wedding didn’t instantly remove me from the shackles of my past, but it did lay the seed of doubt that allowed me to reevaluate the perspective I held for homosexuals, and for myself. It helped me realize that being gay isn’t evil, that it isn’t sin ridden, and that it can be a beautiful thing. That wedding showed me that love is more powerful than any social convention, and though our society and my home may view homosexuality as evil, the emotion within is as just, pure, and true as any other. Today, I’ve liberated myself, and I’m using my experiences to combat my fears of telling others about my sexuality. I’m letting the happiness of that marriage provide a boundary against the harsh words and difficulties I will face because of who I am. I am gay, and though not quite proud yet, I’m getting there.