Erastes, in his own words: “We are more than who we are or who we want to be or who we will become. We have always been more–more than our attributes, our identities, and our flaws. Upon a cursory glance, one would be tempted, convinced even that we were made to be free to our will. Yet, through a deeper examination of our lives, every aspect of our lives, we will realize our lives are not our own. We belong to others, and they belong to us. We belong to each other, and we are compelled to love one another, no matter how subtle or gentle the innate longing. Still the urge for something greater than ourselves is there: the love of all people, not for the sake of being loved in return but for the mere sake of loving them because they need to be loved. I cannot begin to disclose the profundity in my mundane and simple life, but I do see it in the sunrise and the sunset, in the blooming flower, in another’s smile; hear it in my nephew’s laugh, my niece’s coo; and feel it in my mother’s love and my father’s and my grandmother’s and my friends’–all of my friends’ love. And in such wondrous moments, I am in awe at how much greater life is than me, and I know that I am supposed to live for that which is greater than me, as I believe we all are. And no matter how lost or despairing we may be, the fact remains that we are greater than our desires, greater than our sufferings, because we are a part of a universal, endless, unbridled, undying, relentless love that makes us greater than our greatest strengths and stronger than our strongest weaknesses. And so, I say to you, whoever you may be, wherever you are, that I love you, though I may never know you, and that you were meant to be a part of something greater than either of us is or will ever be. Therefore, whenever you look hopelessness in the face, remain steadfast and continue loving without ceasing, for you are more than who you are, more than who you want to be, more than who you will or long to become. You are a part of a cosmic, selfless love that is experienced by dying to yourself and living for others. Now, go and love and serve others.”
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.”