You Didn’t Know Me Back Then

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.

12 Responses to “You Didn’t Know Me Back Then”

  1. Lemuel Says:


  2. "Joe" Says:

    Back then, I always felt “different,” too. And it took me years to figure out why. YEARS.

    There is something to celebrate when we (finally) accept who we are. But there is also some mourning of who we are not, too. Let the sadness happen, then move to the joy.

    I still struggle with it, but am moving more into the joy of being gay. And that’s not easy, in a culture that has little appreciation for differences.

  3. Steven Says:

    “Life is going to be okay.” Here, Here! My struggles with feelings of guilt seem to be “religiously based,” which I fear I may never get over. I am glad that you’re beginning to realize your impacts and impressions on others. You are worthy!

  4. matty03 Says:

    Life is not only going to be OK — it is going to be great!

    I know you know, at least, intellectually — that there is nothing to feel guilty about. Just wait till you fall into love — that guilt melts away.

    The journey never ends, and the challenges of being gay stay there — but it gets easier to spot out the bullshit and to fight against the idiocy that one encounters.

    This was a great post, my friend!

  5. Doug Says:

    That one phrase, “Life is going to be okay,” is so powerful and so true. It is what we all need to hear every day. No matter where the guilt comes from, be it parents or religion or society, that guilt does not have the right to make us feel inadequate or insufficient or unworthy.

    We are all okay. You are okay.

  6. Jim Says:

    John, less internal struggle is great, its progress in the face of your younger self. I find my struggles get smaller with experience; not that the issues go away, just a change in outlook.

    I spent my early years in San Francisco where being gay is normal, so it kind of skewed my perspective and I never have felt different or guilty.

  7. BruceCleveland Says:

    It’s amazing just how much that guilt goes away when you have someone significant in your life to validate your feelings sexually and lovingly.

    You’re gonna make it after all…I have no doubt.

    And as for Jim…I have always wished I could have grown up in San Francisco not for sexual reasons but for the feeling of community and not feeling alone.

  8. Steven Says:

    Have you watched HBO’s “Tell me you love me” by chance? Your interaction with all your blog friends is like one “client” with many “psychologists”. I had never believed in the usage of psychologists until watching the show. It is not because I suddenly realize the magic of it. But it could be able to provide a surrounding or setting for the person to express his/her real feeling and share. You are much brave to open up yourselves than I do.

    You have all figured out. It is just matter of time. You know when you are ready without even realization.

  9. drug fact Says:

    Please oh please keep writing! Your articles are wonderful!

  10. Lemuel Says:

    Friday, 14. Dec.: I just tagged you for a meme. Please see my blog entry for today.

  11. Jason Says:

    You’re going through the process, like most of us have. You are good to point out that your journey can help others just coming to terms with their own sexuality.

  12. W Says:

    I’ve experienced most of the emotions that you express. I really wish for a day when heteronormative norms aren’t the gold standard. I am glad that you are blogging, it helps a lot of people. Goodluck.

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