Two years ago, I used to write poetry for an e-zine that I helped edit. Usually the editors ended up writing everything, so somehow I had to put together enough "decent" poetry for the literature section. I wasn't totally out at the time, but many of the poems dealt with my feelings of being gay -- I just didn't admit it directly.
The irony was that I was first really dealing with being gay and got much of my support from the Internet. I met people who were gay: openly, with their strengths and weaknesses. Yet I hadn't really accepted my orientation or my self, and wrote reams of poetry about The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
I'm a voracious reader, and I research things relentlessly: as a 12 and 13 year old I read thick reports on sex and social behavior -- anything I could get my hands on to clear up this sex and "homosexuality" thing. I guess I knew but wouldn't admit it at the time. I still read and research and find things out. I'm a lot more sure of myself and things, and it's kept me busy when I could have been depressed.
But people have shown me its okay to love yourself and to love others no matter who they are, as friends, family, or lovers.
People helped me realize that I am worth being who I am, and worth loving no matter who or what I am. I was touched by so many: people who were gay and were coming out; people who weren't gay but stood by me as friends; people I've never met but who've been honest about themselves on the net; and people who've loved and cared for me. Because of them I've felt the satisfaction of achieving my own goals, the quiet contentment of just being myself when alone, the respect of peers for helping others, the intoxicating warmth of falling asleep in someone else's arms.
Why did I mention that I wrote poetry a few years ago? Well, because that's how I found out about OASIS, looking for someplace to print my poems where I could be honest about being gay. Unfortunately, I didn't have the guts then to submit anything to Jeff Walsh's gift to queer youth on the Internet.
But now I'm honest: I'm GAY and I feel good about myself! I've met people who accept my sexual orientation and like me for the person I am. And life goes on. (Not everything's perfect, like how I feel about sounding queer, artsy and geekish at the same time. But that's something for another column...)
I was depressed almost continuously for three of the last four years, and the Internet was indispensable in keeping me from collapsing into myself. Over this summer, the web has helped keep me in touch with outside world, which has helped my emotional and mental state greatly. That and doing constructive things, such as helping set up info pages at my university on issues related to sexual orientation, have helped me have the least depressed summer I can ever remember. The honesty of others has been a profound gift for helping me come to terms with myself and my sexuality.
Admitting what you feel and being fully truthful can be scary -- often I can't take being genuinely vulnerable around other people. I've gotten very hurt and frighten by being honest with some people about my feelings or sexuality. But the more open I am to myself and to others, the better off everyone is. Being out goes both ways.
I'd like to thank some people who have, just being themselves on-line, have made the lives of myself and others so much easier: