What would Jesus do with a boy like me?
A boy who’s hurting for affection,
Are you capable of such love?
The man I hold dear turns your eyes from mine in disappointment;
however, I can’t change the way I feel.
Out the door and the cold air hits my face—
nature suddenly reminds me I’m actually human.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”
but I wonder how much love you actually have for yourself.
I press the gas pedal and hold on tight.
My breath escapes my body in a cloud of frigid fog
as I watch my life turn to shambles before my eyes.
You said you could love me,
but all I feel is hate.
I wrote this poem in December 2009, which was 7 months after I officially came out to everyone I know and love. I wrote it after coming home from my (then) boyfriend’s house and watching my Mom look at me with disgust, without asking any questions. I love this poem because it shows where I’ve come from in my gay experience and how things have changed today. Although my Mom still doesn’t openly talk about my sexuality, I know deep down she cares and still loves me. She just hasn’t yet found her voice for expression. I even still laugh when I hear her saying, “Matt, God did not create Adam and Steve.” It wasn’t only the feelings I had toward my Mom, though, that inspired this poem, but I’ll get to that a little later.
I officially came out in May 2009 at the age of 19 to 535 people. I didn’t make a public speech, and I didn’t send out mass text messages. I did something even more… interesting. I wrote a “note” on Facebook for everyone to read. I did it because after putting up “in a relationship” I got a lot of comments asking who the lucky girl was. Well, I had two options. I could either respond, “Her name is Jason” or write a note explaining myself. Though I wanted to be a smart ass, I chose the latter. This note ended up receiving 120 comments, all ranging from congratulatory comments to more, well, I’ll call them distasteful hate messages.
But why in the world would I take the time to come out in such a drastic way? Because I was fed up, sickened rather, by the
person I had become who got comfortable living a double life. Some days I would pretend to my friends, family and co-workers that I was straight and completely attracted to women, and I’d denounce my evil ways to God. But other days I’d find myself searching for gay guys on MySpace (when that was the cool thing to do) just to have conversation with other guys who felt the same way I did. It gave me a sense of normality in a culture I knew was anything but the norm, and I met and still have some pretty good friends from that time. I came out because I was tired of crying and praying myself to sleep for God to rid me of my sexual disease. I was tired of living a life that didn’t match up with a strong sense of how I felt. And I simply came to a point when I said to myself, “you’re stronger than this and worth more than this heartache. It’s time for liberation.” And liberation is exactly what I found.
I can’t credit this bravery to only myself, though. I had a couple good friends who helped me in my journey, and if it wasn’t for their love and acceptance, I don’t know where I’d be today. The cool thing is that a couple of these people are those who I feared would judge me most. The quote, “those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter” really proved itself to me in a very raw (and sometimes disturbing) way.
I remember a good friend of mine at the time who kept asking me every day if I had told anyone in my family. I always responded no, and she would get so upset. She got mad for me when I thought I couldn’t be angry, when I thought I was doing everyone a favor by keeping it hidden. But one night we were hanging out, and she asked who I would be most comfortable telling in my family, and I told her my sister. She told me to text her and just say it. Just say it because it will help you feel better. Just say it because she deserves to know. Just say it because it can’t stay hidden any longer. So I said it. I said it, and my sister still laughs today about the way I told her. That experience then helped me verbally say it to my Mom a couple weeks later, and the experience alone of just hearing myself say those two detrimental yet liberating words, “I’m gay,” encouraged me to keep going, even though I didn’t like half the responses I received. But here’s the thing: I didn’t care because I finally wasn’t lying to myself. I finally had the courage to be who I was without any apologies.
The poem I wrote in December proved just how hard it was, though, to not care what others think about my sexuality. I wrote the poem in response to a lot of hate messages I received from people who claimed they loved me, and who claimed they were loving individuals. I hated their hate, and I didn’t understand – nor could I comprehend—why they had such a hard time with my lifestyle, calling it a choice and a sin that can be fixed. I realize today that people are deathly afraid of what they can’t control and what they don’t understand, but it’s those who rise above that tide and choose to love someone, even in their difference, who I truly respect and in whom I can comfortably confide. Like the saying goes, “people will talk whether you’re doing bad or doing good,” but if they’re talking, at least you know you have their attention and the fantastic potential to be an agent of change.
In honor of National #Coming Out week, I leave you with the words of #Harvey Milk, a prominent political leader in the gay rights movement during the 1970s. He said in 1978, “Gay brothers and sisters… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions.”
P.S. I encourage anyone who’s thinking about coming out to their family and friends to watch the movie MILK, in which Sean Penn extraordinarily plays the role of Harvey Milk. Its gay rights #encouragement and vibrancy helped me immensely in my struggle for personal liberation, and I know it will help you too.
And for some comic relief, check out this story highlighting a new book written by God himself, but with a little help from comedian David Javerbaum. Advocate.com presents Adam and Steve’s story.