Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hell Bound (my son's high school essay)

Note: I post this with my son's blessing.

It was not until I reached high school that I learned that I was going to hell for a sin that I did not understand, for a sin that I did not want to commit, and for a sin that I could not control. Being fourteen years old and totally believing that God wanted me to go to hell was very hard. I could not fathom how being gay warranted an eternity of pain and torture, as if this “curse” was not already enough torture.

It is both scary and painful to write about this subject; however, I feel that I need to. This aspect of me that I have kept hidden for so long is just now starting to emerge. I am scared. Hell, I am more than scared. Even now I have the urge to stop and throw this paper away, to write about something else, to pretend and forget. But this “fake” identity that I have lived is no longer working.

For some reason I feel compelled to continue writing. Being gay has helped form me into who I am today. Truthfully, I have never written or shared these things in a class assignment or with any of my friends before. This makes me all the more nervous. Nevertheless, I feel that I have so many things of real value to say.

Obviously, being gay is not a single formative experience. It is a collection of experiences that have occurred throughout my life. In order to understand how it has formed me recently, I need to give some background about this aspect of myself and the points leading up to where I am today.

I am gay. Being able to write this statement down on paper is an accomplishment within itself for it has taken me my entire life, a lot of pain, and a lot of events to be able to finally admit that I am gay. Only a year ago I would have never been able to say “gay” in the same sentence as my name for I was constantly denying the fact that I was, and constantly trying to change this aspect of myself. However, being gay is not all that I am about. I am about so much more. I am a normal teenage boy who grew up in a Roman Catholic family with two siblings and two loving parents. Yet, all my life I have known that there was something different about me.

For many people the topic of sexuality is a confusing one. It takes many people a long time of contemplation and wondering to finally figure out their sexual orientation. I, on the other hand, did not have this problem. I have known that I was gay for as long as I can remember. There was never any contemplation or doubt; it is just the way I have always been.

I have never felt comfortable to be me. I can remember praying, begging, and sometimes crying to God asking him to make me normal, to allow me to be able to grow up, have children, and to be a happy, accepted straight person. My whole life I have pretended to be someone who I am not to my friends, family, and anyone who has ever met me. Even now it feels awkward and weird to see myself writing about this openly.

This school is an amazing school, however it has made it difficult for me to be myself. Still, being a very “closeted” gay student in an all boy’s school, a very homophobic environment, makes it difficult for me to be open and for me to relate to my heterosexual friends and peers. I feel alone. I am alone. No one knows about my secret because I have lied to everyone in my life for so long that it only seems natural to keep it hidden.

I am a hypocrite. I am a liar. And I am superficial. When the subject of homosexuality comes up around my friends or people that I know, I bash it right alongside with them. Most of the time I bring up the issue of homosexuality just to put it down. I began to actually despise homosexuals to the point that I hated all gay people, regardless of who they were. I began to drive myself crazy. I examined every movement I made and I examined every word that came out of my mouth with the utmost scrutiny to make sure that it was as straight sounding and acting as possible. The fear of discovery consumed me. I COULD NOT LET MYSELF BE GAY!

I am a quiet student, however, I always do my work and I always try to contribute to class. With this being said it has always been hard for me to step out of my circle of friends to talk to and to meet other students. I am constantly trying to find the place where I fit in. Throughout high school I have wanted so badly to meet other people like myself. I don’t want to feel alone. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to feel embarrassed. And I don’t want to feel disgusted to be myself.

This brings me to where I experienced a turning point in my life. This major event in my life occurred only a year ago over summer vacation. I was in Europe with my family on vacation for a couple of weeks. While I was in Florence, Italy, I met a gay college study abroad student from Australia. Meeting him marked the beginning of a long change that was about to occur in me. Even though we only talked for a couple of hours, it had a profound and lasting impact on me. I realized that I was looking at a person who was just like me. He was perfectly normal and happy. In fact, he was popular, enjoyed sports, had a loving family, and was just enjoying his college life. It was here that I learned that I was truly not alone. Unknowingly he taught me the importance of just being me, the importance of letting go. I realized I was killing a part of myself, the part of me that I had never revealed to anyone, the part of me that I had always been too ashamed to reveal. I realized how miserable I was. I was never happy and I was never intimate with anyone. I never let anyone truly get close to me for fear that they would discover who I really was. Sitting there in Florence, listening to him talk about how he experienced the exact same things I was going through was a truly amazing and touching incident. I realized there was hope. The fears that I had of losing my friends, my family, and of being looked down upon were the same fears that he had once had. He was living proof that everything could turn out ok. I realized here that friends come and go, but that my true friends would stick by me even if I told them I was gay. It was here, with him that I understood what I had been forgetting: That I was a person, and that being gay did not make me any less of a person. I still have a hard time remembering this today.

When I returned home from my Europe trip I built up the courage to go out and meet other gay people. I had heard about a restaurant that many gay people frequented. One night, after a lot of contemplating, I finally convinced myself to go. Even though this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it was a major feat for me because I finally stepped out of my shell and took a chance. It was the first time I was able to be myself in public. I was able to be free. It ended up being a wonderful night. I saw teenagers having fun, eating, socializing, singing karaoke, and living. They were free from fear of being discovered. They were free from worrying what people thought.

It was here that I also met the first person I have ever truly liked, the first person who loves me for who I am. His name is Kris. Through Kris, the college student in Florence, and other major and minor events, I have changed from a person who hated himself and prayed to God every night to be “fixed” to a much more confident person. I am no longer as worried about what other people think or paranoid about other people finding out that I am a homosexual. I feel more free. I am no longer sad all the time or disgusted to look at myself. I look back at who I was and I realize how far I have come. A year ago I never would have thought that I would come to be where I am now.

Discovered

A couple of months ago my parents found out about me being gay in a way that was very unexpected and unplanned, in an accidental letter from a university. Fortunately they are now dealing with it, and have taken it much better than I thought they would have. However, I only wish that they could have found out in a different way. During this time I have never felt more uncomfortable to be at home. I can’t help but feel as though they look at me differently, maybe even with disgust or pain. I don’t want that. It sickens me to think I brought this upon them, and that they had to find out from another source.

My parents have lost trust in me. This has been an unfortunate side effect of this whole situation. I feel as though I had no other choice but to keep this part of myself a secret, and I do not think it is right for them to feel as though they need to “watch over me” like a five year old. Just because I am gay does not mean I am going to be promiscuous or that I don’t hold the same value to a relationship that a straight person does.

My mom has been supportive. My dad remained silent. He does not discuss this or bring it up with me. I know he still loves me, but it makes it all the more awkward. My mom has blown me away by doing research on homosexuality and encouraging me to be safe and to talk to her.

Before my parents found out about me, the person I was dating was known as my girlfriend, and Kris was known as Kristine. For five months my parents wanted to meet “her” badly. For five months I had to make up new excuses why she would be late or why she was out of town. As time passed, my parents yearned to meet her more and more. They even joked around about not having met her yet.

The most painful part of this whole ordeal is the fact that when my parents found out I was gay all this changed. The interest to meet my “girlfriend” disappeared as soon as they found out that she was actually a he. There were no more questions, no more jokes. It just stopped. Maybe they didn’t overtly tell me that they didn’t want to meet him because he was a male, but it still hurts me every time to think that my parents don’t want to meet the person I am dating because of his sex. Does it really have to be this way just because they found out their son is dating another boy? HOW DOES ANYTHING CHANGE? My parents say they love me and want me to be happy, and yet they silently act as though me dating another boy is killing somebody or simply has already killed me.

I am still not out of the closet. I am waiting for the right time to begin to reveal to people this part of myself. My friends still don’t know me, and that upsets me. I don’t know how they will react, whether they will support me, still look at me as their friend and help me through this time in my life, or whether it will be up to me to venture through this alone.

I hope to tell my friends someday that I am sorry. Sorry for lying and being a hypocrite, and sorry for putting them in this situation.

I am only now just beginning this long journey of change. However, what is important is the fact that I am changing, that I have come to this turning point in my life where I no longer refuse to change. I still have a long and probably hard road ahead of me. However, I am strong. I want to eventually tell people who I really am, and I hope that they will see that I am so much more than my sexuality. I am a changing person and I will continue to change for the better. I am still discovering things about myself. I am my own person and I am happy. I can finally say my name and the word gay in the same sentence.

Final Note From Mom:

I did not get to read this paper until 2 years after it was written and he had left for college. He wrote this paper for a senior year class assignment and I cannot believe the courage it must have taken to do such a thing. His school was an all boys Jesuit High School and the response could have gone either way. He allowed me to read both the teacher’s (a priest) response and his advisor’s (also a priest) response and both were unbelievably compassionate and supportive. Bless them both. I will be forever grateful to them for showing him that most people will not react with revulsion and disgust.

I was shocked at the way he interpreted our behavior just after we found out. It hurt both my husband and me deeply to think he thought we looked at him with disgust. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. If anything, we looked at him and hurt deeply because he had been so alone at a time in his life when he needed us so much. If anything, our disgust was at ourselves for not picking up on his desperation and loneliness.

Happily, we are all doing well. We could not be closer. Our son is away at school. He chose a university located in a very progressive, open minded city and started school there with NO secrets. He is finally free, completely happy, and thriving. Life for him has never been better.

Share

7 comments:

Jarred said...

This was deeply moving. You son is an intelligent man. I'm glad both you and he are so willing to share.

Anonymous said...

I was curious, did you ever get to meet Kris?

Steve F. said...

First, Mom, thank God for the trust your son had in you to let you post this - even two years later.

Thank God for you - a mother who is trying, day by day, to support her gay son.

And thank you for the courage to post on the Glamour magazine site about Christine Bakke's story. Christine's site led me to that site, which led me here.

I came out at fifty - after both my parents were dead, my wife and I fifteen years divorced, and most of my relationships severed by various moves and career changes.

After my seminary career ended (because of finances, not sexuality), I started writing my own blog to deal with my struggles with the Church as a whole. Shortly after that, I began my coming-out process with this post on a separate coming-out blog. Finally, a year and a half later, on Reformation Day 2006, I finally re-wrote and expanded that post to be this one on my "main" blog - to let the world (and especially my Christian friends) know who I am.

I would be delighted to email/chat with your son, and I'd be honored if you'd pass these links onto him (my email link is on both blogs). I am so very glad he found the courage I did not - to come out and live authentically.

And for people who still struggle with the whole God-and-gay thing, there is a community of more than 4,000 gay Christians who are learning to live our life "out for God" at the Gay Christian Network. Peterson and Christine are both members there.

Thank God for your courage to stand up and speak out in the name of love.

dbv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott W said...

Your son is a talented writer. I wish more kids struggling with their sexuality, or more significant, society's views of their sexuality, could read his story. It is beautifully told.

And you are an extraordinary woman. Such love and compassion you gave your son, some of us are not that lucky.

I congratulate you both and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this story.

Anonymous said...

While I am a Chinese boy. I am not quite sure if you know anything about China. Here is my full story:
( forgive me for my poor writing skills and spelling mistakes) Of cause, my parents do not know that I am a little bit different at the presents.
I just want someone to tell me is it a wise choice to come out in front of my parents. At least now on one knows the truth.
Well, to begin with, I am a 20 years old Chinese college students studying in one of the top ten universities in China. And I am a gay boy. While my problems might seem to be very stupid, I hope there would be some nice guys to tell me what to do or just give me some advices. It is really of great importance to me.
Of cause, I should tell you something about my life, then, it would be much easier for you to get a much clearer picture of my current situation.
As I am a top student in a top university and I am always among the best students in school, you can imagine how my parents are proud of me. And that’s why I am so afraid of telling them the truth. I am always the typical nice boy, who is willing to obey every command from my parents. They help me choose a university; they help me choose the best major they believe would make me a rich guy in the future, even the current choice of sub-major is unavailable to me. However, I have to admit that I hate to make choices, they set the road of my life and they plan my future life very well. On the one hand, I am afraid to make choices for I have to be responsible for every choice I made. And on the other hand, I hate my parents to plan everything for me for I am sure that I cannot lead the ‘perfect’ life which they would be very glad to embrace. It seems a little contradictive, but it’s the true situation.
Both my parents are university teachers, well, not a very nice school, but they surely care about my education. And I know that they love me. They provide 800 thousand Yuan for me to study in America, and they bought me a house not just an apartment for my future family. You can say that I have a relatively rich family. Sometimes I really find myself to be so lucky to be their son, while most time I am worried if I fail to live up to their expectations. I hope you could know my feelings. I love my parents. They give me everything. And I also understand that everyone cares about his reputation. My parents have many friends and have a so-called “decent” family. Is it too merciless to tell them the truth?
Every morning, I would routinely tell myself “I refused to be a victim, I refused to be a victim.....”, and that is how I can go this far. But I am 20 years old now, my traditional boast-up seems to be useless now for more and more my classmates are dating and having a care-free life, while I am just a poor guy who only care about the my study. And recently, I am preparing for my GRE test, so the depression is even worse. I totally understand that to go abroad is part of my plan to leave my parents thus to better serve the obligation a son. However, it is difficult to concentrate on you study, especially when you find you are cheating the ones who you love, the ones who brought you to the world, the ones who trust you and love you.
What should I do? Please do not laugh at me. I am very serious. I really need your help.
With my best wishes
THANK YOU

Anonymous said...

Here is my email address:
zxc_nj@stu.xjtu.edu.cn