Friendship…(Continued from Tuesday, January 19th, 2016)

Building positive friendships has been a goal of mine since I came out. Coming out for me was an opportunity to reinvent myself into the man that I wanted to be finally. I had always envisioned myself as confident, happy, goal oriented and strong willed. I had the idea that one day I would be this positive person who got things done, but not in the brutish sort of way. Just kind of eased into where I wanted to be and made a real impact. That’s who I always tried to be, but was always kind of stuck behind this reasoning in my head that I couldn’t do that because I wasn’t even being strong with myself.
Coming out changed all that for me. Actually a combination of life altering events did that for me, thankfully. I came to prison for an awful deed, then I got saved, my family all but disowned me (some actually did..) and I kind of came to a place in my life where there was nothing else to lose. I figured that I had lost so much already I might as well deliver the final blow…I was gay too. Then, all who stuck around were getting to know the real me. I had nothing to lose by just displaying the real me and opening up to everyone. It was kind of like “I would rather you hate me for everything I am, then love me for something that I am not”. I had heard that in a song somewhere and it just kind of stuck with me. Now I live by those words.
That’s the good thing about being me and totally immersed in the man that I wanted to be. I was able to find friends that actually like me for me. Then I found out that there was more than one person in the world who felt that way. It’s exciting to know that all I have to do is be honest, be me and people like the confidence that comes along with just being real. I don’t have to hide anything. I can talk about liking men and wanting to dress in drag. I can talk about being effeminate and cross my legs and talk about eating disorders and my lack of self-control when it comes to certain foods and men. I can talk about the fact that I am a very emotional being or the fact that I love musicals and have always wanted to be a dancer.
Did you know that’s the first time I every admitted that? Just now, that I wanted to be a dancer all my life. I always wanted to dance, unfortunately, I have no idea how to move my body like them. So I watch in absolute awe. Just awestruck by their ability to show emotions in movements. Just amazing…I can also admit things like my desire to be a waiter. Why did that take me so long to realize? Why was I embarrassed by that? Who did that to me and why? Why did it take me 33 years to admit that I have always had a desire to wait tables.
One of my first jobs was a dishwasher at a high-end restaurant. The cook was always showing me how to make things, but I was always watching the waitresses. The guys around me assumed it was because I was attracted to them, but it wasn’t, it was because I was picturing myself in their shoes…usually literally. I envisioned myself with my suit on and a towel over my forearm moving swiftly between the tables with a platter of food above my head and cocking my hip to one side while I write down a tables orders and making the diners laugh while I got to know their little families. Calling everyone “hon” and answering everything with “Okay sweetie, be right back” and then disappearing into the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere. But I couldn’t tell that to anyone. Now I can and no one is ever going to make me feel bad about it.
So I am going to be a great friend and I am going to promote that thought process to everyone I meet. That includes you who read this. I want you to follow your dream, no matter how small or absurd you think it is.

Love yourself enough to be honest. Know that I love you too, I don’t need to know you to say that either. We are family, whether we like it or not. I just happen to love it!

Jeff Utnage # 823469