Since I posted my last piece about Isolation of the Spirit, some wonderful things have happened.
Family and friends who didn’t at first accept my coming out (when I was 17) have messaged, commented and explained that they love me. Some felt the need to let me know that they never even viewed me as an outcast or a disgrace as I thought they might have.
This has affected me more than I ever thought it might.
My next piece was going to be a continuing introspection of my darkest secrets and reasons behind my isolation and addiction—and of course the path out of it. But today, I felt compelled to write this piece and let you know how receiving these amends has affected me.
First of all, my last piece was deeply personal and was posted simply for the sake of sharing it and helping myself be freed from some of the isolation I’d been imposing on myself. My hope was—and is—that others might identify with my writing and be somewhat freed themselves.
I didn’t call anyone out, and I only generally touched on the homophobic atmosphere I grew up in. However, for some reason, a handful of souls from my past read it and felt a need to let me know their true feelings about me as a person.
I actually don’t believe homophobia exists as a true feeling. I believe it is a habit energy we are born into, and a behaviour that is taught and passed through generations. I truly believe that if you were able to momentarily free someone of all their teachings and life experience and get down to the very core of their being and ask what they authentically believe, you’d be surprised. I believe they would tell you that the hatred as an ideal/value/belief they may have been taught doesn’t actually reside within them.
This is why I don’t resent the people who didn’t accept me when I was coming out.
That being said, it’s taken some time for me to uncover my own beliefs about this. And in the days when I was first coming out of the closet—although I never felt that I was wrong or dirty or a bad person inside for being gay—I think I picked up a habit of believing along the way that I am—to some extent—unlovable as I am.
Revealing myself to people was often met with hatred, threats and violence. It only makes sense that developing ways to keep parts of my identity hidden became my own way of keeping myself safe and surviving.
I was in the middle of writing my continuing piece about the negative beliefs I had about myself, when the first amends came in. It was an apology from a family member for having not accepted my homosexuality—and a reminder that I was loved. This person had been brought up within homophobia and expressed true regret for having continued that behaviour with me. They sincerely wanted only love for me.
This apology affected me deeply. More so, I was really moved by the reminder that I had actually been loved all along—despite the damaging words of the past.
As I continue to write, uncover truth, and share my journey, it’s moments like this and messages like these—the reminders that I am (and have been) loved—that stitch up and help mend the fabric of my past. With this fortified foundation, it’s easier to face the future and live my truth boldly.
Later on in the day that I had been sent this message, I was at a birthday party for one of my best friends. There were about ten of us gay boys out for dinner. For no noticeable immediate reason or incident, I found myself feeling warm and loved–more than before. Maybe it was coming from myself, or a feeling reverberating from the pleasant message I had been sent earlier. Or maybe (probably) it was because I believed a little more now than before that I truly am loved.
A couple days later I was at a very ‘straight’ conference where it’s obvious that being gay is the minority. I had actually spoken at this conference a year ago to the day and had talked openly about being gay.
It’s in the moments when I’m teaching a class or speaking at a recovery meeting that I find it easier to reveal myself. This is most likely because I’m somewhat in control of the moment and can set the tone.
This past weekend however, I noticed myself sitting in the ballroom of the conference during an intermission with my legs crossed at the thighs—a way of sitting that I had come to believe as feminine and ‘gay’.
My first instinct was to uncross my legs and sit upright in a more manly fashion. But, I didn’t. I was comfortable the way I was sitting, or I wouldn’t have organically sat in that fashion.
In my mind, I reassured myself that doing and being what I was comfortable with will bring connection with the people who love and accept who I really am.
I’m not saying that a simple amends has drastically changed the way I view myself, but it is a little more of a weighted reminder in these moments that there are people who will accept me as I am regardless of how I sit or speak.
In sharing this post, I’m not suggesting anyone do—or be—anything. I’m not telling you to run around making amends.
You might feel it’s too late to remind someone you never disliked them for being gay, or to apologize for bullying or not accepting them for being different. You may believe the past is just water under the bridge, and an amends won’t change anything now—and you may be right.
For me though, it wasn’t. It wasn’t too late to hear that I was loved (not unlovable)—even though it was all those years ago.
In fact, an amends might not change the past, but it can definitely impact the course of the future and emphatically assure me that it always has been, still is, and always will be perfectly ok to be myself.