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Ian B.

April 1998

Hello fellow Oasis brothers and sisters,

Since this is my first article, I'll introduce myself: My name is Ian B.; I'm 22; its my first year out of college; I was born, raised and currently live in New York City; I've been basically out since I was 16. . . and so on.

So, without further ado, here's my first entry:

1993: One sunny afternoon during my first semester at college, while in a particularly eager mood, I decided my next major goal (the first was coming out) would be to write my autobiography. I would spend the next four years developing my writing skills so that I'd be able to accurately put on paper all of the feelings that I went through growing up gay. This autobiography might then be read by the younger 'me' -- some other gay teenager --who might then feel, as I had never felt, like he was not alone -- that there was someone else who understood him, who went through the same things. I wanted to save this old 'me' from the horrible torture I had felt.

At the time, I felt like I had already been through the worst of the coming out process. I had accepted myself as gay and so did my friends. But one year later, sophomore year, everything shifted into reverse when I met the boy next door to me in my dorm. We clicked in so many ways it was amazing, and pretty soon I was falling in love.

But there was one major problem: he was completely in the closet. And he dragged me back in with him. He made me promise not to tell anyone about us, and he himself would never talk about the fact that we were anything besides friends. Things started to get pretty intense -- the spark of love -- but it was too much for him to handle. So he pushed me away and channeled all his frustrations into making me suffer. This worked incredibly well. While he grabbed the nearest girl to showpiece as his girlfriend, I suffered miserably. And I suffered all alone. I was so crazy for him that I kept my promise of never telling anyone about us. So I grew apart from all my friends and eroded away inside to the point where I would feel constant physical heartache. The next couple of months were agonizing. I finally got to such a ridiculous low that I realized I had to make serious changes.

Over that winter break, I told my mother and my sister I was gay (absentee father, by the way). I had anticipated an OK reaction but was instead given something that I was not prepared for: rejection. My mom denied it, clipped articles for me on how to change myself, argued with me, wouldn't listen to me. Obviously, this didn't make things much better.

I went back for second semester sophomore year completely numb. I was so overwhelmed by my emotions that I had to just tune them out. Growing up gay constantly feeling alone, thinking I had finally found love to again be rejected because I was gay, miserable that I was among only a handful of 'out' students at college, separated from my friends because I couldn't/hadn't shared the reason for my depression, and no longer having the emotional support of my only parent: I dreaded every day. So I focused on my schoolwork. I kept myself constantly busy in a never ending comatose state in the safe, comfortable and utterly impersonal world of academia. I made certain that I had absolutely no time to think.

Then came the summer of 1995. Warm weather, no papers to write and the house to myself (Mom was away for two months and my sister had her own place). It was the summer that I met Jared, the guy I ended up dating for the next 4 months. I liked him and he liked me. Great times. At the time, I thought I was again falling in love. Everything else seemed to be going great also. That summer, I was genuinely a happy person for the first time in my life.

At some point, I made the decision to never allow myself to become unhappy again -- to never let myself suffer through anything like what I had earlier that winter. I made this pact with myself, and almost three years later, I still haven't really broken the pact. It's true -- the past couple of years have been the best of my life.

But I wonder how much of this was due to the fact that I've accepted myself, I've had my mother and sister accept me (though they could still use some work) and I've steered myself away from hurtful situations . . . and how much of this newfound happiness is due to the fact that I simply cut myself away from pain, no longer allowing myself to acknowledge it. It's the second that's kind of worrying, because I've learned that being happy has its consequences: I don't really feel like myself anymore. I still feel a bit numb. You see, being happy was a decision then, but its not really anymore. I can rarely cry anymore. It takes a lot of energy to be happy and I'm becoming exhausted.

But I am happy . . . I think.

Sometimes I try to feel like that Ian (that's my name, in case you didn't get it before) deep in the center of me -- the one who was me when I was I was a shy 9-year-old, a smart-alec 12-year old, a short-tempered 15-year old, an eager 17-year-old and a morbidly depressed 19-year-old. But it doesn't work anymore. I can't remember how I used to feel. I wonder whether it's because it's too painful. If coming out is about being completely honest with yourself, then maybe I'm not fully out anymore.

Growing up gay is horrendously difficult (a cello plays softly in the background). You can let the traumatizing experiences weigh your life down or you can shrug it off, let the past be the past, and move on. I've chosen the later option. But now I can hardly remember the tragedy. I can remember being in 9th grade convulsing on my bedroom floor hysterically crying because I didn't want to be gay. I remember being 12 with my mom in the car waiting at red light behind an obviously gay bicyclist and her saying "Every time I see a gay guy, I feel so bad for their mothers -- how can they hurt them so?" . . . and I can remember a couple of other particularly painful episodes. But that's now exactly what they are: episodes -- TV-like episodes -- disconnected caricatures of themselves. They're stories, but their pain is also just a story. Most of the pain of my childhood (a.k.a. most of my childhood) is lost.

1998: I'm 22, with a great bunch of very close friends, a loving mom, my own place. I'm emotionally secure, healthy, . . . I've got everything going for me. But I still feel that profound sense of loneliness that I just can't shake (Is this the tie that binds us queer folk together?).

And so my autobiography will never some to press, at least not yet, because I can't conjure up those feeling I felt growing up gay. Even though the pain is still always with me, I'm having trouble remembering it. I don't want to not be happy, but forgetting (repressing) the pain is like erasing my entire life.

I would love to hear any responses/questions, so please email me at ibs8@aol.com.

Ian B


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