Does Anyone Remember Me?

I.Was.Ty's picture

Seventeen years ago, in what now seems like a lifetime ago, my debut column appeared here on Oasis. Back then this site was a 'zine updated monthly, and I wrote a column in thirty consecutive issues over two-and-a-half years, the January 2000 issue being my last.

In short, writing on here changed my life.

From the time my debut column was posted I was a bit of a controversy on here for a variety of reasons, from the topics I wrote about to the age I stated I was (thirteen). It seemed like every word I wrote was analyzed and critiqued, and dismissed by more than a few people. This didn't make me go away, it only made me want to write better.

I'll make a confession: I wasn't thirteen when I started writing on here. I had just turned twelve, and was a child prodigy with a genius level I.Q. I should have disclosed that in my first column, but I wanted more than anything to just be a normal kid.

I also had my supporters early on, and several of them because what I called my Inner Circle, online friends that I could trust and be more open with. In fact several of them would write on here, something that gave me an immense sense of pride. I don't think they knew this but those friends kept me going through some really rough times.

Over time I developed a worldwide following, and while there wasn't a provision at the time for private messages on this site my e-mail address was posted in my columns. At the peak I was sent several thousand e-mails a month, far more than I could personally respond to although I read every one. Some were scary, some funny, and others were from kids like me trying to understand their sexuality and cope with their lives. I even did a column about that (October 1999).

Each month I wrote about a variety of topics, some were funny, some quite serious. My column from October of 1998, "Veils Of Shame", was the first time I publicly discussed the sexual abuse I had endured as a little boy. It was the first of a seven part series I had written but never posted on here, and is now one of my biggest regrets.

As time went on I became more experimental, wrote shorter columns, and even went as far as to have my self interviewed (April-June 1999). I still can't believe I did that!

After the last part of that interview was posted, things changed for me both on here and in real life. I was increasingly critiqued for my more mature writing style, and in early December of 1999 my long time girlfriend Anna told me she was pregnant and could no longer hide the baby bump from her parents. That did not go well.

Anna was pregnant with twins, and in January of 2000, as my last column appeared on here, she gave birth to my sons. M.J. was a healthy baby, but his brother D.J. was stillborn. I'm still haunted my that.

Over time I though about coming back here, but it never felt right. My son would eventually discover this site thanks to finding the diary from my teen years, and he wrote on here as "Sam2000", making us possibly the only father/son contributors to this site.

It was at his urging that I write this, and with a great sadness as this site will soon be no more. This may be the only time I write here, or I may continue on until the end?

I have a glimmer of hope that Oasis can continue on, and will gladly offer some ideas for that if asked.

Thank you,

Ty

Comments

Beau's picture

Welcome back!!!!!!!!!!

After reading your journal this morning I did a search for your columns and printed them out, and I read all of them! I'm impressed with what you wrote and also your perseverance and bravery. You were given a hard time by people who should have been behind you and you just kept going!

I like how your writing style evolved, from the wordy first columns to you concise later ones, but your message stayed the same. I think my generation will have things easier as far as acceptance and tolerance, but you had it rough.

I think I understand why you lied about your age, but that doesn't take away from anything you wrote.It makes it more impressive that someone a year younger than me could put so much into what you wrote! I'm taking Debate next year in school and it's my favorite class, and writing is such an important skill!

If you got sent that many e-mail messages you had to have been popular, and the column you wrote about that showed both sides of the issue. I think you did more for other gays than you might believe too.

Having a kid at fifteen? I don't know how you managed!

I'm curious about where you are now in your life, and I think there's some people out there who possibly would remember you from the early days of Oasis? I really hope you'll come back on here and write some more! I'm also curious of the ideas you have for saving Oasis? This site means so much to me and once it's gone I'm going to be on my own.

Beau

I.Was.Ty's picture

That's such a compliment to

That's such a compliment to me that you'd take the time to read what I wrote so long ago! I still think what I wrote back then has meaning in today's world, but times have changed as well.

I went and read your journals as well, and it's comforting to me that teens like you are still coming to this site and contributing. I still have hope that Oasis can carry on.

The main reason I lied about my age was to put up a smokescreen to try to prevent anyone from finding me. Back in 1997 I was still dealing with the effect of the sexual abuse I endured as a young boy, and I found it very difficult to trust people. As a matter of fact, I still have that problem. I felt that if people were trying to find a thirteen-year-old they wouldn't be looking for a kid that was twelve. On a regular basis I was asked if I was a certain person, and several times they had guessed correctly. There were other elements I kept hidden as well, really just to remain private, not to be deceptive.

I took debate in middle and high school, and I loved the experience. It made me grow both as a person and as a writer, not to mention helping me overcome my shyness.

The e-mail I was sent was overwhelming at times, often 100+ new messages a day. I read every one of them, and would reply when I felt it was necessary or would help the writer. At least half of the messages were questions about my identity or other requests that I thought didn't deserve a reply. My favorites were from those who told me that I gave them some hope about being gay, and that I made them feel better about it. Those were the people that made me want to continue writing on here.

I had massive support from my family when it came to taking care of my son, and my younger siblings loved helping out their nephew. I never mentioned her to anybody (at her request), but I have a sister a year older than me and she was and still is a huge part of M.J.'s life. I was also a hands on father, and had lots of experience from taking care of my younger siblings. I now have a second son, A.J., who's almost seven months old.

My boyfriend Eric and I are still together, we made our relationship work through all these years. Anna is the mother of my children and still very close to me, proof that you can make relationships work long term.

Eric and I both work for a large international corporation in different departments, and we have lived in several countries over the years. I'll be writing about that as time permits.

Beau, you help make Oasis the wonderful place that it is, and hopefully something can be done to help save it. I'm working on some ideas that I will soon post.

Thanks, Ty

jeff's picture

Well...

Obviously, I remember you! ;-)

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"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles

I.Was.Ty's picture

: )

Thanks, Jeff...I was hoping you'd remember me!

This site sure has changed since I was last here, wish there was a way to save it?

I'll be writing more on here as time allows. I became a father again in January, a boy named A.J., so as you can imagine I have my hands full!

It's good to be back here!

Ty

jeff's picture

Well...

The site served a largeish niche in 1995, and was still somewhat valuable up until maybe 2010? Now, the problems we're facing are not really the strength of a peer support site (cutting, drugs, trans, suicide, depression, etc.), so I almost feel we've moved on past the initial audience of people on the verge of accepting themselves who needed that extra handholding and nudge, whereas now... I almost think trying to solve deeper issues with peer support on a low-traffic site is kind of harmful.

Our most recent journal threatening suicide didn't get any response for 5.5 hours, and that's faster than others have gotten in the past. So, I'd rather think of the site as something useful for a specific period of time, and that time is coming to an end. I mean, sure, there will always be a handful of people who will benefit from a site like this, and I have problems with the alternatives, but short of rebuilding the site to become an alternative to the Trevor Project or somesuch, there's really no point. And to me the heart of the site was always the peer support element.

So, we'll just have to take the 19 years it ran, and be glad for the thousands that were helped by it...

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"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles