We recently celebrated our anniversary. Yes, celebrated is certainly the right word, despite the fundamental contradiction of a gay man being married to a straight wife. We’ve had many happy years, many happy times. Shared heartaches and triumphs. We love our kids; we really do enjoy one another’s company; we share so much in terms of worldview and values.
But nevertheless, my heart is dark inside of me. As time goes past, fear and shame grow stronger; pain and resentment deeper. Fear of the inevitable day when my secret will be made known to people I love. Shame for my actions – unfaithful, weak, pathetic. Pain that stems from the message that I heard and embraced again and again throughout my life: that deep in my heart I was evil, broken, bad. Resentment toward those who sold me the lie that, if I was honest and sincere, that god would “fix” me. That if I found the perfect girl, if I was honest with her from the start, and if we entered into marriage with pure intentions and faith in god, that everything would work out. Well guess what? Despite finding the best girl in the word, despite my most genuine attempt at honesty, despite our sincerest faith, it isn’t working out. It’s not OK. We both live with chronic emotional pain, a wound that won’t heal.
The truth is, even though my resentment pretends to be directed at others – my family, my church, my culture – maybe the proper target of my resentment is me. I’ve read plenty stories of gay people who grew up in the church, in families that were not accepting of gay people, and yet at an early age they found the strength to reject the messages they were hearing. So why couldn’t I have done so? Why didn’t I?
Maybe it’s time to stop blaming everyone else for choices I have made. Time to start making new choices. I mean, I can’t change what I thought and felt and did in the past, but what I do now and in the future – that is not yet set in stone. And I would like to think I’ve made progress. Many years ago, whenever I heard the dominant cultural narrative about what it was to be gay, I pretty much accepted it without question. I willingly embraced the judgment. Over time I found the strength to question and reject those same demeaning attitudes and beliefs, if only internally. I questioned and rejected them, yet almost always remained silent, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want people to figure out my “secret.”
As I look to the future, I’m not satisfied with that. It’s progress, yes; and I’m grateful for it. But it’s time for more; time for something new. It’s time to speak up. Time to counter the anti-gay attitudes and beliefs still too prevalent in my everyday experience. Time to get over my stupid fear that people will figure out that I’m gay, and stop letting it determine what I do and what I say. It’s time for a new chapter.