I always knew that I was different. From a young age I have always felt like there was something about me that set me aside from the other children I played with. It wasn’t a physical difference (although my less than average height today may beg to differ–I realized this last week when it was difficult to find inseams for a person who is only about 5’4″). It wasn’t even a difference in activity–I loved to play football with the neighborhood kids (especially in the autumn where piles of leaves were randomly set up for us to fall into). But there was a feeling that I was different. It certainly wasn’t the feeling that I was destined for greatness, although I wouldn’t mind being a person who made impacts and influenced those around me. It was just a feeling that made me feel like I was set aside.
As I grew to understand that these feelings were my attraction to the same gender, I began to realize that it wasn’t something that people embraced. In fact as younger men, we often attacked and used as insult the slang word for homosexual (the “f” word–which makes me cringe to even think about writing it). In hushed whispers we gossiped about the men who were more effeminate or those who were clumsy during recess. Not wanting to be lumped in with those, I had often joined in the whispers or the name calling of those who were “weaker”. And because of how vicious some of these “friends” could be, in retrospect I’m sure my name was on that list as well.
When puberty hit, I remember flipping through a nudey magazine. I remember admiring the muscles on one of the male models and feeling the tingles in my stomach as my eyes shifted from his biceps down to all his parts. In the privacy and behind closed doors, it was the first time I allowed myself to let these feelings run. However, the feeling was short-lived because it was followed by guilt that I felt this way. And every time I lusted, I feel guilty.
I still struggle with feelings of guilt every now and then. But I struggle less. As I begin to accept myself and come to terms with these feelings, I realize that I am who I am. As I read some of the email sent to me from other bloggers, and comments made by other readers, I also realize that I have made impacts and impressions on others. And as I make this journey down my path untraveled, I begin to tell that younger person inside me that, life is going to be okay.