I am not writing this for pity or sympathy or for anything besides as a reaction to a book. I cannot express how important this short book was to me. It opened my eyes to the fact that I did not grow up wrong or as a monster like I have always assumed. My mindset was not unique. It is easy to say that I was and still am confused, but when you’re growing up different from everyone else and you can just feel the difference, you have no one to talk to. You just assume that you will get to the place where everyone else resides. I didn’t know how it felt to love someone or to have a crush on someone. I had crushes on lots of people over the years but they didn’t make any sense to me. I would hear guys talk about the girls that they liked and it wasn’t how I thought, so I assumed that I was just different. I have no idea if that is truth or what I could have done differently. And in truth, it doesn’t matter. All that I can do now is live the best life I can live.
I had to accept this fact: “What I was in the dark about was something which in fact much or most of the world still misunderstands: homosexuality is not about what you may or may not do for sex, it is about who you fall in love with.” My life does not have to be the sexualized version of homosexuality that Hollywood and the media like to portray. I have never been to a gay bar, I have never gone dancing, I have never gone to a parade, I have never walked around even with my shirt off. Ask my old teammates – I never ran without at least a t-shirt on. There is nothing wrong with any of those traits, but at my core, they aren’t me. But I thought, just like I thought that a heterosexual has to talk about girls the way I heard guys talk about them on runs or while riding a bus. I assumed if I was a homosexual, I needed to like those things that I am told to like and that those qualities define who I am. I hate parades. I hate crowds. I hate bars. I hate dance music. But I want to fall in love. And I want to be loved.
It is still incredibly difficult. I still cannot have all of those things I imagined I would have. Getting married is not a reality yet. I am sure it will be, but as of this writing, it is not. Finding someone to marry will still be difficult, just like it is for everyone else. Having a family – that may be where it gets harder than normal. It is expensive, time consuming, spirit crushing, but, in the end, rewarding. I suppose it is why I get upset when I hear parents complaining about their children or how hard raising kids are. I suppose it is why I get upset when I see people treating their children like crap. I suppose it is why I want to be a father. I listen to people talk about their children or grandchildren and I want to be kept up at night by a child. I want to bring a grandchild over to my parents’ house for them to enjoy. I want to see the joy in their eyes when they see something new and the hate in their eyes when I won’t buy it for them.
I end many nights thinking that if I wasn’t built this way, I would have those things. I think about how much simpler life would have been and would continue to be if I could just be like the majority of people. It isn’t a self-hatred or because I believe I can change who I am. I don’t hate who I am – I am sometimes not fond of myself or my behavior – but at the same time, I think it is easy to forget how difficult being different is. However, this sense of difference is not like being a comic book nerd or being a little smarter than the average kid. At the end of the day, love is central to life. Almost every song that is written is about love. Almost every book that is written is about love. Almost every day, you think about who you love and how you want to be loved. And on those nights when I wish I wasn’t built this way, I do what I did back in junior high when I couldn’t take the bullying anymore. I grab my stuffed dog puppet, Wrinkles, and question why I was dealt this hand and what I can do differently.
Yet each day, I wake up in the morning believing that life will come together. I have always been a goal-orientated person who does my best to achieve what I want to accomplished. I don’t need a 100% success rate, but I do have to feel like each day I’m moving a step forward towards my end goal. And I am going to be happy that day when it all comes together. I know it will be a hard road and there always will be bumps – there have been bumps already. But as Rauch ended the book: “I am the man who is grateful to fall down because he once believed he would never walk.”
Buy this book: Denial by Jonathan Rauch