Imagine a world where the ‘normal’ was for men to be with men and women to be with women. Imagine if this was all you knew, saw and heard everyday of your life. Imagine people (family, friends, strangers – everyone around you) telling you how amazing their same-sex relationships were. Imagine being told that having feelings or loving someone of the opposite sex was going against nature, God, and was an abomination. Imagine being told that you would be threatened with violence if you were caught holding hands, kissing or showing affection to someone of the opposite sex. Imagine being afraid of loving the person you are with today because it was not right in the eyes of society – how would you feel and what would you do?
For as long as I can remember – I had an attraction to men. As soon as I was able to understand that these feelings were not the same feelings held by the majority of people around me, I knew something was wrong – but that wrongness was not with me! I never shared my attraction with anyone because I understood that my feelings were not accepted by family, friends and society in general. I remember people who were ‘out’ being mocked by family and friends – I was called a ‘faggot’ many times knowing that this was a negative term used for men who liked men, even though I was not ‘out’.
Growing up was difficult – especially during my early teens. Growing up in a Catholic household and then becoming Jehovah’s Witness for a brief period – I realized, although religion preached about love and acceptance, that they were not accepting of the homosexual lifestyle. I also heard what friends thought of gays and lesbians – there was always hate in their voice(s) when speaking of them and some even expressed their need to threaten them with violence. I remember my family being insensitive to the homosexual lifestyle as well – I remember the ‘fag’ jokes from other siblings and often being called a ‘sissy’ from them and even my parents (even though they did not have confirmation that I was gay). Society didn’t make it a lot easier as well. The AIDS epidemic was God’s punishment for homosexual behaviour – it was God’s way for punishing us for our great sin. Homosexuality was considered a disease/illness until the late 60’s. There were so many acts of violence committed towards gays – the assassination of Harvey Milk, the brutal killing of Matthew Sheppard, the police raids of gay bars across the United States – most notably at the Stonewall Inn on Saturday, June 28, 1969 which led to the Stonewall riots. Witnessing all this – why on earth would I want to condemn myself to such bullying and hate? My only answer was to live separate lives – a life to please society, my friends and my family and another life (my true authentic life) to myself.
I dated girls and really tried to accept heterosexuality as the norm (for me) – even though I knew I wanted to be with others of the same-sex. I lived a gay lifestyle in secret, no-one knew that I had gay friends and I dare not let anyone find out – I was fearful. Many of the gay men I knew were either closeted or living openly without the support of friends or family because once they found out they were gay – they were deemed ‘outcasts’. I did not want that to happen to me (at that time). I continued to live as both a straight man and gay man and this duality started to show signs of stress. I turned to alcohol and drugs (nothing too hard core) to numb my feelings and to alleviate the pressure I was feeling in living this dual life.
Eventually – and thankfully, I learned to accept myself and became comfortable knowing that there was nothing wrong with me – I couldn’t change the dynamics to which I was born. l learned that I had much internal homophobia. I released my rage and internal homophobia out on partners I was supposed to love, nurture and learn from. All the hate and judgement that was imposed onto me from societies homophobes throughout the years really carried into the relationships I had with other men. I remember hearing people saying that the gays (not so much lesbians) were very promiscuous, they loved to engage in ‘risky’ sexual behaviour, they lived a life drenched with drugs and alcohol and all they did was party all the time – we were deviants and were not like the rest of civilized society. During a point in my life – I believed this, even as a gay male but I came to learn that this was not the case and that many gay and lesbian individuals wanted nothing more than to have a partner and be happy just like everyone else.
I am happy to say – that I have dealt with many of my issues and have forgiven all those who have made judgements about me. I would not be the person I am today without having to face the issues that I was supposed to face. I don’t blame society for their lack of ignorance to what they don’t know and understand – I am not their judge or jury. I live my life treating others in the same manner that I want to be treated – with dignity and respect. I have been with my partner and spouse for over 20 years. My love for him is a strong as the love my mother and father have for each other – there is no difference except that Jason and I happen to be of the same-sex. He is not my wife and I am not his – we are same-sex partners. Our love is great and only becomes greater with time. I have learned so much from him and cherish the moments we have had together and look forward to many more. Jason and I laugh together, we cry together and we grow together. I have never been more proud of anything else in my life than my relationship with him.
Think about a world where everyone around you is gay – the ‘norm’ is that men are partnered with men and women with women. Televisions shows, movies, commercials, magazines and newspapers all cater to same-sex couples. Imagine that you meet the person of your dreams and they happen to be a person of the opposite sex – you thought about them day and night – you knew the feelings inside you were normal and that everything about you and those feelings were normal but everything and everyone around you is says otherwise. Imagine not being able to show that person that you loved them by holding their hand or kissing them affectionately? Now imagine living that life – I certainly did and today I live a life where I am GAY and most definitely PROUD!!!! HAPPY PRIDE everyone! (Listen to Heather Small’s words in the video below called PROUD)