Steven, in his own words: “Being gay, to me means simply being; staying true to who I am; the way I was meant to be.
I really try to focus on not complicating myself, so that I have a more clear since of who I am at all times.
So I guess, being gay means being completely honest with myself.
The only challenge I can say I have encountered was my struggle with balancing religion and homosexuality. I used to lay in my bed as a child at night, every night praying to be “straight”. I just wanted to be normal; accepted both in society’s eyes and God’s. However, age taught me that I could be both gay and accepted and loved by my maker. I learned to keep my faith in God, while remaining the way He created me. His love for everyone, homosexuals included gives me a never ending peace.
There is a line from the Tony Award winning musical “RENT” that always came to mind while struggling with acceptance.
“To sodomy. It’s between God and me.” -Jonathan Larson
Being gay is mine and God’s business. It took me a while to not let other people make it their own.
Unlike most gay men, I don’t really have a coming out story. I am very fortunate to have a very “out and proud” uncle. My dad’s brother, cleared a nice big path for me to act and be who I was every step of my journey to adulthood. Not once was I ever ridiculed in my own house for playing with Barbie or dressing up and pretending to be Dorothy from “The Wizard Of OZ.”
After meeting and getting serious with the first guy I ever dated, I wanted to introduce my family to him. So to bring it up, I just started using masculine pronouns in conversation with them. “Mom, I’ve been dating someone, and HE is so amazing. You’re gonna love him!!” And, she did. She still does.
I had it easy. Thank you Uncle Jim.
Apart from 3 or 4 guys on Grindr, there is no gay community in Batesville, MS that I am aware of.
This would be my advice to my younger self:
“Don’t bother trying to figure yourself out, or letting others label you too much. You are always evolving. You always will be. Be the best at what you love doing, and love those you love wholeheartedly.”