Joshua S.

November 2000

Among Strangers

I sit among strangers and act like I belong. A field of students embracing the spring sun gather around me, and I feel myself dancing. I no longer feel like they are all looking at me. I'm not so different after all, but I'm still unique and beautiful. So here I am, and I don't believe I'm wrong or unethical. I belong in the crowd, and they don't mind me even when I fear myself.

I came out of the closet almost three years ago, but even today I must decide whether or not to tell people I am gay. I've lived in a world of straight people all throughout my youth, and even today I find it difficult to have gay friends. I do enjoy having people who can relate to things I have experienced, but I must say I was somewhat disappointed. I realized not every gay person understood. I struggled so long to find a place to belong, but just because I am gay doesn't mean I don't belong exactly where I am now, was, or will be. It's strange if you think about it though, you come out with such a rush and a sense of fear. You lose them both so suddenly as you wake up and do the same things you did the week before you came out. You can handle the pain a little better this time around, and you find yourself smiling as if you just did or thought of something so incredible.

It's a shame I have forgotten how amazing it is to be openly gay. I suppose I just feel I was always this way, and never will I be silenced from the person I am. I'm telling you coming out is just a step, it may be a big one but it's not the most important one. Acceptance from others is a euphoric feeling, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't find acceptance within yourself. I came out two years before I actually dated a man, and my first few experiences were catastrophes. I wondered if I truly wanted to be openly gay anymore, and if God was punishing me for something I didn't completely understand.

People give me weird looks when I say I am Catholic. Am I not allowed to choose my religion? Does the Constitution not apply to me? It took me almost 7 years of my life to find peace with my God, and I did it by finally loving myself. I sometimes feel like the outcast when I'm at church, but I will not allow myself or others to take away from the love my God has for me. Coming out feels like it's just a story I tell, but I seem to always forget my coming out story is never truly finished. I suppose in the back of my mind I wonder who knows if I'm gay or not. I question people's actions towards me, and wonder if they act that way because of my sexual orientation. I always thought so much would change, but my friends still treat me as if I'm Joshua, and my brothers and I still wrestle. It may seem strange, but I feared my brother would be afraid to moon me even though it always annoyed me. I just didn't want things to change between us, but things did change. I know my brother loves me for me, and there are no secrets anymore. I don't remember how I lived wondering if people would love me even though I was gay. It all seems like a dream now, and I'm so glad I woke up.

It appears every story tries to have a moment where the main character falls in love, and I suppose your first love is always something you reflect on. I have finally reached that part of the play where I am in love, and God willing I will never realize heartbreak. I guess it's just a part of life, but I am enjoying it without wondering "what if" Carlos was and is my first love, and I stare at his beautiful face at night wondering how anyone could say my love for him is wrong or sick. I do not feel ashamed or strange when I am with him. Love at any level can help you realize your beauty. Some day that love may fade, but don't forget the energy that consumes you. Allowing myself to be vulnerable was the strongest thing I could have ever done. I have become the person I always wished I could be. I have made it here through a life that resembles a badly produced soap opera, but I have no regrets. Sometimes I feel I wasted so much time living in fear and hate, but it has molded me into who I am. I no longer ask why am I gay, I just smile and say thank you for giving me this unique opportunity. I could never see myself as being straight, and honestly I don't think I would be as intriguing if I were.

There are times I still wonder if coming out was the right thing to do. I question my motives, and wonder why the gay people I know seem so different from me. I know I belong, but no one is like me. I realize now that's a beautiful thing, and I love the idea of being me. I'm open and active in school, and there is always opposition. It doesn't bother me anymore, because now I can openly defend myself and my beliefs. I'm gay, but I'm learning it truly doesn't matter. It's just an issue with those who have been taught through ignorance. I'm still Joshua, gay or straight, open or not.



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