For me, growing up knowing I’m gay taught me one thing very early on: secrets keep you safe from social reprieve. Secrets keep you safe from losing that person you just want to be friends with. They shield you from the scrutiny of a neighbor or relative whose comments fill you with shame about that thing you hide, so you bury it so deep that no one will ever know.
Every time I think about posting about my life or talking about my experiences, I feel fear. Is it worth it? Is it worth risking how others perceive me, or causing a bit of a fuss? I see friends and family progress around me, but I’ve kept a wall up around my life. Honestly, coming out didn’t seem worth it. Straight people don’t have to do it, and it’s none of y’alls business anyway.
All this is to say that when members of the church rally around the idea of expressing gratitude, I want to participate, if I can. So here goes.
It’s been interesting to see the #GiveThanks posts. On one hand, I love seeing positivity on social media. I enjoy seeing updates on people’s lives who I haven’t heard from in years. I miss you, and I hope we can see one another someday in the future.
On the other hand, the posts have exposed an uncomfortable truth to me. I’m terrified of sharing about my life. This is no one’s fault; it’s just how I deal with things. I don’t post about my life on social media. I don’t talk about my life with most of my friends. The only dimension of my life I can talk about in public is my writing, and even that took me a while to ease into. I’ve always been afraid that people would judge, or make assumptions. I’ve always been afraid I would lose friends, or that it would affect my career.
I’m grateful I have been able to explore life’s opportunities. I’m grateful we live in a society that affords individuals the agency to live with intent according to their circumstances. I’m grateful for my boyfriend, James. We’ve been together well over 4 years now. We have both learned more about ourselves and grown together as a couple during that time, and I’m grateful for that.
I’m grateful for my parents – yes, all four of them – who taught me to work hard, to care for what I have, and cultivate my skills. They only ask on occasion for a wedding date (I’ll get there, I’ll get there. Sheesh.). They’ve accepted James into the family while refraining from intentionally embarrassing me too often. Unintentionally is another story. They also tolerate my borderline unhealthy obsession with writing, so I guess that’s cool. I’m grateful to have something like writing in my life. It gives me purpose, and I love sitting down to start the next chapter.
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This story is dedicated to helping people learn to love better, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.