While speaking with one of my favorite blog writers about a post he wrote, John from Open A Window (click on link to see his post) told me about knowing something was different from as early on as four years old. This statement gave me a jolt, and like a computer searching it's memory banks I suddenly had childhood images and emotions flood back. I was a little shocked because I had to agree, even though I say I was around fourteen when I first admitted to myself that I was gay, like John I felt there was something different about me from a very early age. Even as young as four I remember I liked to play with either quieter shy type boys or girls, I could not understand why most boys wanted to play rough, and actually take part in games and adventures where the result could be pain. I felt something was wrong, a lot of times I could identify with girls but not boys. I did not play with dolls but I was fascinated with a neighbor's kitchen set where I could do dishes just like Mom! I did like to play with trucks but not to the same level as my male friends. I hated most sports and preferred to play tag or kick the can when there were a lot of kids over. Sports made me look clumsy and awkward and I did not want the extra negative attention. It certainly proves to me that I was born this way, I knew that something different was in store for me as a man but I did not understand what that was. It wasn't only me, a lot of neighbors, family, teachers also knew there was something different about me as a little boy but could not put their finger on it either.
I felt like a failure as a 'boy', like there was something damaged about me, something I wanted to change but did not know how. My male friends seemed so brave, so fearless, so strong and I felt weak and a coward compared to them. Everything seemed to make me cry easier than for them, I was always over sensitive to situations as well and was painfully aware of it. When I started school it became worse, that is when for me it showed up more. I remember as a little kid playing on the school grounds, hearing the words over and over, sissy, queer, fag and even though at that time they were not meant for me, I knew somehow deep inside they were directed towards me. I was not really sure of the meaning to these words but I was sure that they were meant to assault a guys masculinity, meaning less than perfect male, meaning someone like me. Life also gave me the card of always being half the size and half the strength of my friends. Some times even neighbors jokingly said "you should have been born a girl" but I knew it was meant in a back-handed way as well. It is a very hard blow for a child to get such an unsolicited cruel statement from an adult and often I remain cold to these people to this day.
As much of a failure being a boy I felt inside, it was double the feeling of being a failure as a son. I knew something was different with me but so did my father and he was not pleased. Yes I know a lot of you will want to write and say kind things like he loved me anyway, but I'm sorry that is Hollywood I grew up in real life. My Dad was very much the rough and tumble little boy when growing up, I was told many stories by older neighbors about the adventures he got himself into. I always imagine the way people congratulated him when he had a son and then must have scratched their heads later when my personality started to develop. As hard as it is for me to write this, I am sure he felt cheated from being stuck with a son like me and was ashamed of me, I know he was because many times he told me he was ashamed of me. I told John of nights when I was a kid, lying tense in bed, straining to hear my parents talking when my Dad was angry with me, I knew they thought I was asleep and I was fearful that I would hear my Dad say something like "why did I have to get stuck with him for a son" or "I wish I had a better son like Chris, Frank, or Jim, instead" I know he thought that often.
I think these past experiences are a large part of the reasons why I could not accept being gay. I saw it as a total sign of weakness and living gay would have been to give myself over to the image that I had been fighting my whole life. It is also part of the reason that I plunged myself into my work, staying late and working weekends. This way I did not have to deal with life, particularly a gay life and I could appear dedicated like a hard working man so that my Dad would be proud. It has cost me lost time. We are closer now my Father and I, he has mellowed with age, I think he sees me as a good person and understands I am more of an office guy than hockey jock. He calls just to talk now sometimes which he never did before. I worry now that if it should come up that I need to tell my parents I am gay, it will throw things back to the tense way they were before. However I have started on this path and it is the one that I will follow through. I have already had some of the hardships of being gay or trying not to be gay, so time now I think to experience some of the good things it has to offer, and yes I will now accept the experiences, the fun, the new friends that my gay life is sending directly towards me.