The unthinkable morality device
It's the October of 1997 and, by the star on my calendar, I see that it's that time of the year that I go sorry-assed reflective over the stark wonder and growth that I have done since my last letter of "look back in wonder. (Note: I wrote it to myself in August of '95 to the song "Loadstone" By Crash Vegas. Here goes.)
Looking back in wonder I see that I've grown as a human being in many ways. When I first entered college (Theater Arts), I was a scared confused "intense" nervous kid. Over my first year of college, I came out. I hadn't dated or socialized at all in high school. Most teens matured and lived. I on the other hand worked, and made damn fine money I might add. So college was something new. I explored my sexuality (or one aspect of it any ways). Can you say boyfriends? By November of '95, I had written a coming out letter as a way of coming out to myself and those around me. A week later, I posted it to Soc.Support.youth lgbt. By November, I had just gotten online and started talking to a woman in California who responded to my posting (more on her later) and this guy many of you may know... Jeff Walsh.
Both really helped me with a lot of stuff I hadn't dealt with such as coming out, self acceptance, safety issues and other things. By December, I was in Oasis in the "Arts & Entertainment" section under the pseudonym of Terrence (or Terrance) (http://www.oasismag.com/Issues/9512/story-terrencewood.html). Since then I'd written a few things(poems and articles) for Oasis. More notably a coming out poem that stated "bisexuality is a lie that keeps you warm at night" and a few months later a rebuttal that stated that: "My Hell is Sexuality".
I think that's what I really got from Oasis. Not just the fact that its a forum where I can submit stuff that I feel strongly about. But it's the fact that the content changes as the authors do. That is to say that the content shows the stories and life experiences of queer youth and the changes and growth that occur in our lives from month to month. I've never read an issue of Oasis where I came away feeling cheated. I never felt like I'd just been preached to by some higher power hack writer who knew dick all about the kind of stuff I'm facing and even less about how to deal with it. More the opposite, When I read Oasis, (past & present issues) I keep getting this feeling of honesty. No bullshit, no fake patronizing flack. Just the raw truth from a youth perspective that changes as we do.
With that all said. From there it's been a whirlwind year. It's October '97. I'm now a graduate of Algonquin College theatre arts. Living on my own and paying my own way through life. It's a big change. Last summer, I was stuck in my home town going though what felt like hell in a hand basket (a burning hand basket in free fall off a very tall cliff no less!). In college, I had found freedom of expression, of self, of thought, and many new friends. When I arrived home in April of '96, it felt like I'd gone to prison (no sex jokes I beg of you). No friends, freedom of expression was lost. As for freedom of thought? Lets just put it this way I've got around 20k of "life is hell" journal entries to prove the summer of '96 was my worst to date.
So it's now October. I've gotten my ear pierced (It may not be big for most of you but for me it was a major step in self expression) I'm growing my hair long and trying to grow a beard. These things sound trivial, but in context to where I've come from (I've always been clean cut, dead-pan serious and slick. The pinnacle fifty-year-old business man in the body of a twenty-year-old) It's a major change. Looking back, I can see that I've gone from intense, scared individual to intense, focused graduate. I'm cool with who I am (for the most part). I've done a lot of things and grown a hell of a lot as both an adult and a kid trying to catch up on twenty one years of missing youth. I've fallen for both men and women and crushed the hearts of others (it's all come back at me in the end) When this is online, it will be November. I'm now living on my own (with a roommate). Away from my parents and finding that it's a lot of work. I'm finding that having a life, saving money and being yourself takes a lot of out of you when you're only making $8 an hour.
If the year of '95-96 was one of self discovery, the year of '96-97 was one of fine-tuning, refining and subtly changing things to make them fit. It was a period of dealing with personal issues and finding a future where I can be myself, which is still happening to this day. So this is the point in dialogue where I turn off the Joe Cocker cassette, quit the "Wonder Years" shtick, smile, and for one small moment admit to myself that I've come along way.