Tuesday January 19th, 2016
Growing up I never really had a large grouping of friends. In fact, I can count on one hand every friend I had until the age of 29. Never at the same time either, they were always at stages of my life. I remember one friend, his name was Josh. I was in seventh grade and my life was tumultuous. We had crazy people living with us, my mom was acting strange, we were in a strange new town and my experiences told me that where we were was temporary. So I treated it temporary.
One night, while he was sleeping over, we found some weed. We got high like idiot teenagers do and we were laughing and joking and all kinds of stuff. Josh knew some stuff about me, but most of all, he didn’t make me feel weird about things. He just kind of understood that some stuff could be found out, but that it had to be let go of, not mentioned again. One night while we were laughing he leaned over and kissed me, right on the cheek. I immediately reacted violently. I began to punch him over and ever again. Mainly because he had exposed something in me that I had been made to feel ashamed of. He leaned over and pecked me on the cheek, and then laughed about it. In my mind he wasn’t laughing with me, he was laughing at me. Making fun of the fact that I was soft. I was afraid of his parents rottweiler, I didn’t like getting hurt, I didn’t like wrestling around or football. Most risks I didn’t like taking and I was very reserved and shy. He picked up on all that and then exposed it for what it was and thought it was funny when I became self-conscious of it.
Okay, maybe he wasn’t aware of all that, but I was. That was a very telling moment for me. One that I knew I had to protect my sexuality from others. So I never wanted to let another person experience that part of me again. That brought shame and guilt, both of which I didn’t like. So I didn’t try to make friends, and when I did I forced the relationship into a very specific corner. One that involved exclusivity, privacy. Which brought on similar types of personalities. That wasn’t healthy.
I talk about this because once I came out, I realized that I didn’t have a network of friends that I could rely on. I literally had to figure out how make friends again. I had no idea what it was going to take to be completely transparent with the world, and I was scared to death. Josh played over and over in my head…
That lended me a very good well of water to draw from whenever I came across other people who needed it. Many men in here have had similar experiences with shame and guilt when it comes to their hidden sexuality. I have put myself out there as an advocate against that. Everyone here knows that if someone is just coming out that they have to meet Jeff. Jeff can help, Jeff can help you get through this, he knows where to find resources for you.
That feels good…It feels like I have finally done something right and it’s something that I don’t feel bad about. Coming out is hard to do. It’s hard to face the judgement you have feared all your life. It seems as though coming out is going to end your life for some, so when they finally exhale the words “I’m gay” they expect their whole world to come crashing down, but instead, they find themselves. That is a beautiful thing, something that I want to witness over and over again.
It feels good to have friends, to be apart of a relationship where people help each other. We draw from each others wells, happily finding answers to our own lives within each other. We are connected, even if only temporary. It feels good. To be continued .. out of time, my 20 minutes is up.
Jeff Utnage 823469