A Man Like Me

I spent most of my life hiding.

I spent most of my life scared.

There’s always this thought in the back of my head that whispers softly with tension, it tells me over and over:

“They will never love you for what you are.”

The majority of my life has took place in a small town in the northern parts of BC. No shopping malls, no cool coffee shop to hang out, no clubs or decent bars. It was run-down houses, dirt roads, churches, tiny schools, and farm lands and Reservations. I had the mountains and the everlasting starry heavens to call sweetly to me and love me. That was my home, the wild.

There was always something in me that told me that I was different, I could feel it in my bones. The older I became, the more understanding of what separated me from others. I never really did feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m still not sure if I do today. It’s always been a constant affliction.

It felt like drowning, the days that go by, the lonely nights where I am always by myself. The others walk past me, me praying that they would never look my way. I longed for the shadows so I could hide away and not have to exist. I never wanted people to see me, to look me in the eyes. I feared they would see what I see, the things that keep me quiet.

I grew up hearing phrases like: “that’s so gay”, “don’t be such a homo”, “why are you such a queer?”…fag this, fag that, I heard it all. I knew what that word is and what happens if you were one. I grew up being alone, because I knew what would happen if anyone knew what I was. I grew up thinking I had no future or any real chance at life.

I hated my reflection in the mirror, I hate the way I talk sometimes, I hate the way my body moves. I fear that any slight fault that I give away would end it all. I never wanted to be me for me that I was is something revolting. I pretended to be normal, wanting to survive as much as I could in such a small town. I told lie after lie, saying all that I could to deflect anything that could alert the others. After a while, my whole life really, the lies blended in with the truth. Suddenly, it was too much for me to handle and I knew nothing when I pretended to know everything. Nothing about me makes sense, all because I can’t accept myself, because I think no one will accept me.

It all changes once you tell someone the truth, when their questions beg more questions and the lies can’t help you. Once it’s out, they never look at you the same. You are not you anymore, you become a label and that’s it.

That was my fear, that’s what I never wanted for myself. It’s what always kept me waiting on the outside.

Maybe it was all in my head, constantly letting my monsters grow and be fearful. The things that haunted me were because I made them do it. Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. Maybe it wasn’t growing up with people that were homophobic that troubled me, but that there is a underlining sense of homophobia within myself.

I remember the first time I held hands with a guy in public. I felt panic, my heart beating sporadically. I started to sweat and tensed up. Something in me told me it was wrong, that it was forbidden. I looked to the people on the streets and feared they would see what was happening. I half expected an angry mob with pitchforks.

The first time I kissed a guy I wanted to cry,  because I was worried what would happen to me. Would anyone know of the things that happened in the late of night where there was nothing but silence? We were miles away, but I still ran away out of fear.

The first time I had sex with a guy, I had to be drunk beyond measure, for it was the only way I wouldn’t freak out on him. I let my mind become so numb, all so I wouldn’t have to hear the words of hate inside my head that I projected of what people would say to me if they knew what I did.

But, the first time I told a guy that I loved him, I felt a gut-wrenching pain inside of myself, the ache of knowing that I knew nothing of love and have next to none to give. I was a fraud, I didn’t know how to be gay, I didn’t know how to be straight. I was just a lost soul, struggling with the motions of life, letting the waves come and go. Who the hell was I?

I first admitted to being gay 5 years ago. It hasn’t gotten any easier since. I still feel a sense of fear telling the truth, watching the reactions on someones face, wondering if they will hate me.

Why am I so scared? Why do I shy away?

I tell lies to people. I tell them I’m Bi, so I’m not so much of a freak. I pretend to be straight. I deflect questions because I can’t stand the truth.

And I have to ask myself: Is it really that wrong to be gay? What kind of man am I to feel such shame for something I can’t control? Why do I still hate myself so much for it? Who am I really hiding from? Is it really that bad?

I never grew up having support the way other people had. I grew up being on my own, because I’m different. I grew up having to take care of myself, confiding in only myself, learning to walk through the darkness by myself. It’s always been just me. It never changes. I’ve built walls that extend to the heavens up above.

But, I want to ask…

Is it alright to hold your hand?

Can those lips be my lips?

What if we forgot the world for a second?

Will you grasp onto me while I fall?

I told you no before, but maybe it could be different.

I told you I wasn’t alright. I’m still a haunted man.

This is what that plagues me. Maybe if I got a second chance, I would do it right. Maybe I would try not to be so alone all the time. Maybe this fear would go away. Maybe I would be near you.

So, what if this is it? With all the hate in the world, could I still stand tall? I’ve known what I am my entire life. It’s been the ghost inside my head this whole time. This game of being a runaway has grown old and I need to stop. There’s more breath to savor, maybe I could come home to you. This is what I ask, that what if I could say I’m sorry? That hating my reflection is too much for me, the whispers of grief take all that is me away. But, I can’t hide anymore, these colours are brimming over the edge, I am what I am. I think of the times of when you were here.

I still miss your sweet kiss.

Your hands can fit into mine perfectly.

Your body moves, I sway, we latch on.

I dream of your voice calling my name

I know you think of somebody to love,

I think I could be that person. I could be that man.

-T

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