That Day in August

by rheeb

About a year or so after I fell for 418, I began having this sense of urgency that I would need to tell people that I was gay.  Right before summer of 1999, I was ready to get everything out.  So, I instant messaged my cousin “Teresa,” who was eight years my senior.  I’ll never forget this.  I was in the backroom on the computer listening to “When” by Shania Twain on repeat.  I felt adrenalin coursing through my veins as I typed, “Teresa, I’m gay” into the monitor and clicked enter.  Her response to me was that I was going through a phase and that I’d eventually grow out of it.  I knew her belief was incorrect, but it felt so good to finally tell someone my big secret.  Up until that point, I would browse AOL Christian chat rooms, asking for advice.  This lady who’s handle was “RawDeal” IMed me, letting me know that she “used to be” gay, but God changed her.  My concern while talking to her was whether or not I would be able to get married when I got older.  I’ve always wanted to have a family.  She reassured me that I certainly could.

In December of 1999, my sense of urgency extended to me wanting to tell my parents.  So I distinctly remember making the decision to tell them before the year ended.  Looking back, I think I had a firm belief that the rapture was going to come back before 2000, so I wanted to make sure that I was sin-free (even free from “lying by omission”) so that I wouldn’t be “left behind.”  For weeks I tried to psych myself up enough to tell them, but I never did.  I also made big plans to tell AntiM around that time.  Thankfully, nothing happened at the turn of the century and I’m pretty certain that I’d nestled myself safely into the bosom of denial that held me close for the next few years.

So, 2004.  Twelfth grade.  I’d fallen madly for Smoke, and in another adrenalin rushed panic I said to Staz, “I can’t look at her without wanting to have sex with her!”  He seemed elated that I’d finally admitted my feelings to him.  Now, that year, we had a new, beautiful girl in our class named “Jury,” and I just hated her from the beginning.  Everytime I saw Jury, I felt like she was hiding something.  And I wasn’t the only one.  So did Staz and “Madge,” another girl in our class that Staz and I were very close with the year before.  Anyways, Staz, Jury, Dodge (who was madly in love with Jury), and a few others were in a speech class together.  One day, right before class began, I noticed that Jury had a rainbow bracelet on her wrist.  For a couple of weeks prior, rumors began to swirl about her sexuality.  As the week went on, Jury and I began to talk.  I don’t know how this started.  Staz, Jury, and I would sit in the very back of the class and talk about things.  It wasn’t until one night that all three of us ended up on the phone playing what we called “The Question Game.”  It was basically Truth or Dare but without the dare.  So we played the game and Jury asked me, “Would you ever consider ever being with a girl?”  I adamantly refused to answer, and she had to get off the phone, so we vowed to continue the game throughout the next school day.  The next day came, and between each period, we’d ask each other questions.  She asked me the question again, and I told her that I “used to” be gay and throughout the day, I told her a very polished and lacking version of the 418 story.  She then told me that she was, indeed, a lesbian, and just recently broke up with her girlfriend because she’d went off to college…

…Damn, I swear, looking back on this is bringing back all kinds of feelings for me.  For one, I suddenly feel seventeen again, which is very freeing, and two, I wonder deeply what the fuck happened to me along the way.  I used to have dreams–dreams that I was certain would come true.  I just knew I was going to be a famous writer.  I almost feel like something horrible happened (that of course I can’t remember) that made me begin living like a dead person.  Anyways, anyways, back to the story…

So, I somewhat came out to Jury.  And fuck, I swear, as the school year went on, that was the glue that held our bond together.  Jury, Staz, and I were always talking about gay stuff.  It was like a secret gay kid society.  Staz told us the story about he and Smoke’s son, Temptation and their little affair throughout high school (that is, until Temptation graduated from Fundie Academy a year before we did).  Jury was also involved in tons of drama.  Lots of boys and girls loved her–especially Sapphire, who, a year later ended up telling me that she liked me, too.  As I’ve stated on this blog before, I was extremely religious at the time, so instead of living out of the closet, as I should have in a sea of gay kids (mind you, the entire middle and high school of Fundie Academy consisted of about 120 students.  The entire thing.  Right now, just off the top of my head, I can name ten gay kids eight of which were in my class of 25 alone–including “Madge” who is now Jury’s best friend in real life), I lived in secret silence that ate at me like a parasite.  Then of course college happened, and I began living like a dead person actually.  I was knee-deep into the whole “ex-gay” thing, so I actually wrote my entire “gay/ex-gay” story in a composition book and gave it to my mom.  I wanted to tell her that I was an “ex-gay.”  I gave her the book, and for the next five years, she saw me as an “ex-gay” person.  This makes me sick to my stomach just talking about it.

Then I turned 24 and couldn’t continue living a lie, because I felt split in two–so much so that I began writing journal entries entitled “Dichotomy,” “Split,” and “Double Life.”  Twenty four was one hell of a year, because I was working at PFCM, but knew I was gay as all hell, so I began praying to God to help me see if being gay was OK, which proved to be a resounding yes.  So, one day in August, I was on the phone with Jury, who, years prior, had come out to her parents and subsequently was kicked out.  I told her that I’d finally come out to myself, and didn’t know when I would tell my parents.  Well, about twenty minutes after that phone call ended, I sat in my mom’s room as she said, “You’re not still dealing with that gay thing, are you?”  I said, “Yes.”  And that is when I officially, seriously, finally came out.

Of course, coming out is a process that never ends for some, and I am one of those people.  About a month before I told my mom that day in August, I sat at my desk talking to Chocolate Baby who dragged it out of me and accepted me completely.  And then, during the last election, as Smoke sat in my office talking to me, I asked her if she was going to vote for the same-sex marriage ballot.  She said, “No.”  I asked, “Why not?”  And she said, “I don’t want them to do that here.”  I said, “So, you don’t want me to get married?”  She ignored me and continued talking about whatever it was she was previously talking about.  I then said, “See, you didn’t even hear what I said,” and she said, “No, I heard you.”  All those years of wanting, specifically, to tell her, who I believed to be the love of my life–the one who I would have instantly ran off to Vermont with to marry–the one I would be happily divorced from now–and it all ended up being so intensely uneventful.  She never brought it up again, and neither did I.

So there we have it–the “so far” journey of my coming out.

Song of the Day: When by Shania Twain