Pride – Gay really is a strange choice of word

I can’t speak for all homosexuals, I can only speak for me but, maybe some of this rings true for others and it’s a story that only part told to date. Perhaps in reading it you might discover more of me than you knew, it might explain to you why I appear strong and capable of dealing with anything.

Being gay … well, I didn’t know I was for many years and that’s because I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Some have found it strange but I am telling you like it is, from around age 5 I certainly knew I wasn’t like other boys. My first same sex experience was with another boy actually in class at school. We were just being innocent kids, surely most kids do this sort of experimentation at some point don’t they? I remember doing straight experimentation too, I can also remember wanting that to be over with as quickly as possible whilst the same sex one I yearned for it to happen again. I don’t remember whether he started it or I did, we were both the same age, it was innocent exploration.

No way could I play with other boys, they were rough and tough and that wasn’t me. I liked the way that when a girl got hurt at school the other girls would hug them, I wanted that from the boys but, I was told that it was sissy, not right or queer and, as soon as I heard that word ‘QUEER’ I absolutely knew it was wrong, unnatural, perverted and no way could that be me because I was destined to grow up tall like the men in my family, get married, have children, a great job and make my parents proud.

My entire childhood I was promised I’d grow big and strong if I are this or that, if I exercised or whatever. Everyone meant well but, I didn’t grow big and strong, I was short and insignificant.

I was told each parents evening that getting ‘average, could do better’ wasn’t acceptable. If they say I can do better than not doing better isn’t an option, not doing better is failure but, in my heart I knew I was doing my best, what they were telling me was that ‘I’ was not good enough.

Into my teens and by now I knew I was attracted to other boys in every way. I still didn’t fully comprehend this homosexuality thing because it wasn’t anything which was part of my life or experience. It turns out we quite regularly had a gay guy visit but it wasn’t mentioned, that sort of thing wasn’t.

PE was a nightmare for me, changing rooms were places I had to avoid. To me, as a young teen it was like a straight guy being asked to change with the girls, can you imagine how awkward that could be? I couldn’t be with other guys in contact sports because I wanted to, needed to touch them, it was a stupidly powerful need. I closed myself off from all guys except those who didn’t seem fussed about sexuality at all whether they were gay, straight or, as yet undecided, didn’t much matter.

I got badly bullied at school, punched and kicked daily and I had to learn to tough it out because if I showed it hurt I’d get it all the more. What hurt more than those beatings was just how attractive those guys were, one I later discovered was gay, trying to fit in, his way of coping in a world where being gay wasn’t an option. That bullying has shaped my life, taught me to cover my emotions at all costs, to hold back the feelings I’ve had for others.

I left school and life became a little more pleasant, the bullying at least had stopped. By now I was open to at least the possibility part of my thinking was at least bisexual. I tried dating girls, two of them to be exact and, that didn’t go so well. there was nothing natural about it.

4 years after leaving school I met and fell in love with a boy. There is no point mentioning his age but, suffice to say, the legal age for homosexuality then was 21, we were both illegal (He’d have been legal under current legislation). The first time we had sex was amazing, it was, to me, the proof I needed that homosexuality wasn’t evil, wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I got so close to coming out but, some heavy duty situations happened at home, relationship breakdowns and so on and, it just wasn’t the right time, wasn’t fair on them.A friend of mine was also going through a rough patch and, I made the mistake of neglecting my boyfriend of nearly two years to help my friend. Sadly, my boyfriend assumed me and this friend were sleeping together and I lost him, he just disappeared. I was devastated and he’d gone so well that no one would tell me where. It would be another decade before I’d discover him truly again.

At a low point in my life I met the only female I ever had feelings for, it just ‘happened’. Even knowing that it was all wrong, that I should have put the brakes on, I had a chance for normality. I was so naive that I genuinely thought that, given time the homosexual feelings would pass, they didn’t.

I can’t give up on people, not when it’s my fault that they are where they are so, despite trying to come out to her within a year of marriage, it lasted a total of 9 years before I had to make it abundantly clear that my sexuality was fixed. I was gay and was going to stay gay.

You see, it’s that word ‘gay’, I wasn’t allowed to feel happy at all about it so, why did I have that label?

Anyway, the catalyst for me eventually coming out fully as gay was a one night stand with a male friend. It shouldn’t have happened, of course not but I DID want it to happen. I could have said no but I chose not to, I wanted it to happen because I needed to be me. I spent over 30 years pretending to be someone else and I’d had enough. For that one night I needed to be me and once I was, I couldn’t go back.

It would be another 6 years before I got divorced and started to live a gay lifestyle only, I didn’t.

I lived a hybrid gay lifestyle.

Truth is, I was neither in one camp or the other. I was an a a contradiction. I am a gay man with 4 children, children for whom I was responsible 24/7. Most other gay men couldn’t get their head around that, it was as unnatural as many would think homosexuality to be. Straight people couldn’t really feel comfortable with me because, I bummed men. There were a few, a tiny few who accepted to one extent or another. True, I have always felt a little like the freak show, the weird one but, it’s been the best I could get.

I’ve suffered terribly from depression for years. I’ve used medication in the past, for over two years in fact and it worked until the side effects got too much. I can normally recognise the early signs and distract myself out of it, not always though and, one thing anyone who suffered any form of mental illness knows is that no one wants to know about it, keep it hidden, don’t talk about it. Broken bones they can deal with but, heavy, deep emotions, no, not really. Those with mental health issues learn to keep it hidden and, because of that, seem to attract others in need because they come across as strong.

In reality, each person who needs helps takes a little more from me. I recover but, sometimes, so many need me at the same time my mind shuts down. I have to go into recovery mode to stop me going into a deep depression.

Because of my emotional state I do tend to fall in love quite quickly and, it’s always been to my cost. I truly loved my first boyfriend, probably always will. One guy a few years back not far off my age just didn’t like relationships so, my deep love for him was rejected. Another thought me too old, yet another is just straight so, that can’t go anywhere either. All those three I felt a deep, passionate love for, one which goes beyond lust. Of course, there was my Filipino love, I was just plain stupid there and ignored all the warnings, even those I saw for myself. I’ve been cheated on by someone I loved, treated selfishly by another whilst another was violent toward me. I even suffer by knowing guys have or do love me that I don’t share those same attractions back for.

So, there are times when I wish I could be straight. By the time I can pretend to be fully gay without the family being around all the time to scare guys off, I am just going to be too old, my prospects don’t look good.

The vast majority of those who think they know me, they really don’t. They know the man they want me to be. They want and need me to be this super human strong person who can be there whenever they need me. They don’t want to accept me as vulnerable or needy because that’s not what they want. I should let them go but, I don’t want to hurt them yet, it hurts me each time I am suffering and they don’t see it or choose not to see it.

Being gay has made me anything but ‘GAY’. Too many gays are only interested in sex and acting gay. With all my experiences, I now have to not act at all except, I do, I hate it but I do. I keep up this strong persona because people need me to be that. I have so many tears locked up I don’t know how I don’t drown.

What scared me most is that I shall some day die, quite possibly alone and so few will even notice. I am proud of who I am, I am pleased to know I have improved the lives of so many people. Yet still I am screaming out inside for someone to really appreciate me, to know me as the person I really am, to be there when I need them without my having to say a single word, to care about me as much as I care about them,

Being gay isn’t a lifestyle choice, I didn’t choose this, I wouldn’t have chosen this. By living a lie for years it damages a person. Yes, on coming out I finally felt relief that I could finally be open and honest only to learn that, in reality, I couldn’t. I am still a victim of that bullying as a kid, I still painfully feel the loneliness I felt then as an outsider, as the short freak who doesn’t quite fit in.

BUT …. because of that I fight on because I believe that if there is a purpose in life that it may have some reward for me, that if I keep plugging away at being me I shall some day meet that special someone who sees me as that special someone.

I don’t have pride because I am gay, I have pride because I am me who just happens to be gay and, if any of that confuses you and you are just not sure whether to call me gay, bi, confused, pervert, queer, faggot or otherwise, just call me ‘Steve’ because that is the one thing I know I am.

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