When I was in the thick of realizing I might be gay I was still under the impression that I had a choice in it. I was looking at my current life, comparing it to the life that might be out there if I were to choose to be gay. I remember being in Target, the bubbly red cart steady forward, smiling at the other mother’s I passed, trying to recall if we had milk left, wondering if I could be gay there. Could I be gay in the grocery store? In front of people? I suspected there might be some really intense joy if I were to choose a gay lifestyle, but that felt like a selfish move considering my marriage and three kids. So I chose to ignore that part of me. There was enough other goodness in my life outside of my sexuality that was fulfilling–so I leaned into that. But the more I ignored it, the more it doubled and quadrupled in size. Maybe you’ve experienced this as well, shoving down feelings that were uncomfortable and inconvenient. Come to find out feelings don’t like to be stuffed. It didn’t take long before I was lying in bed, my family living loudly outside my bedroom door, my head pounding in migraine agony. I could barely swallow water.
I’d gotten the idea that being gay was choice from about a thousand different voices and experiences. So I was fairly shocked when my body confirmed it wasn’t. Now that I have some distance on those hard days of realization my warrior self is a little angry for all the lies that filled my head my whole life. I’m not sure why it is that gay people have to come out and fess up to their sexuality while straight people get to carry on with their lives, families and careers without ever having to mention their preferences for who they want to wake up next to everyday.
Here’s the thing: the only choice I had in realizing I was gay was whether to be honest about it or hide it the rest of my life. I could’ve potentially lied to myself, my husband, my kids, my family and friends for the rest of my life. I may have died prematurely from stress related illness; I may have learned to cope in a slightly jaded, emotionally unavailable way. I can only project those outcomes. I chose to be honest. And I made that choice for my own health, my own well-being.
I went out to dinner with a friend recently and in the course of our conversation the phrase, “when you chose to be gay and get divorced.” slid out from her lips. I knew she meant no harm, but it landed in my chest like a dagger. I can’t really fault others for thinking my sexuality is comparable to what shirt I wear or what hobbies I like because I thought that for too long too. But now when I think of my life, who I am, I don’t see any choices I made other than to live honestly. In general we all lack the ability or desire to put ourselves in other people’s perspectives. I would never think that a straight person was choosing her lifestyle to be confrontational to me, or even to go with the flow of pop culture. If sexuality is a choice then it’s a choice for all of us. If it’s not a choice, then it’s not for any of us. Truth is truth is truth.
Even a year and half after admitting I was gay I found myself wondering if I’d made the right choice. The thing is I wasn’t trusting myself. Life had gotten exhausting in the long, gray winter days. Everything was breaking down at once. Writing about my awakening has illuminated so much for me though, and through the reflection of it and some great friends, I realized I was only ever choosing to be honest with myself. I want my kids to see me living my truth, no matter how hard it is. I’m not sure what I’m doing here on this planet if it’s not living truthfully with who I am.
Perhaps you’re someone who still believes gay people go against the natural order of the universe. Maybe you think we’re off center, irregular, abnormal—maybe you even have worse things to say about all that. Maybe you’re afraid of your own truth too. Grace and peace to you friend. I wish you bravery to let the world and yourself in it spin the way it was meant to. I hope you’ll feel released from the responsibility of worrying about who I hold hands with. I hope instead you’ll just hug the people you love and embrace them with all your own truth.
And if you’re the one hiding your truth, please come out. It’s worth it, I promise. Nothing feels better than letting go of a lie. Lies are so impossibly heavy and suffocating, and I don’t want that for you. A friend of mine has adopted a motto for the intention of her life: Live Free.
We all have the choice to live free in our own honesty. Find your bravery. Find your truth.