Zachary, in his own words: “I have always been observant.
I could easily spot wildlife long before anyone else while hiking in the mountains of Utah. As for rules, their inherent purpose was to be observed, so I implicitly complied. As for people, in social settings I was keenly aware of what they did while always asking myself, “Why?”
Ultimately, these observations have led me to succeed in my HR career and serve as fuel for my character work in improv. However, before it was a triumph, I could hardly even see it as a silver lining.
Being 6’6” it was (literally) hard to fit in, but that’s all I’ve ever wanted. Add being gay, and I was acutely aware of how different I was while growing up as Mormon in Utah. It’s a weird paradox going through school desperate to set yourself apart by being the best with a perfect GPA, with a lead in the school play, with the sweater of a Student Body Officer, and yet to remain being part of the group. Balancing these conflicting desires ultimately came down to not gaining undue attention. Give me attention, sure – but when it’s on my terms. So, I teetered back and forth always testing what was socially acceptable, toeing close to the line, but always sure to keep a safe distance away.
Awareness was my protection, my defense.
But despite my keen observations, there was a lot I didn’t see. It wasn’t until I moved to New York and later came out that I started to recognize the world for what it truly was. Mind you, coming out doesn’t magically make life better. A fairy drag queen of a mother doesn’t plop down, shower you with glittery rainbows, and whisk you away on a unicorn of dreams with fat-free thin mint girl scout cookies. You don’t suddenly become best friends with Nate Berkus throwing perfectly decorated rooftop brunches. Nor at that brunch does someone invite you to “summer” at their beach house next year.
Life still exists. It will be hard at times. And people, gay or not, are still people with all the emotions and bias that come along with being human. Friends will rush in and out. Morals get challenged in ways never previously imagined. God’s existence may come into question and surprises await on the other side of that pondering. Memories of past hardships will begin to fade. New talents will emerge. Confidence finds its way back into existence.
Nowadays, I love my life! Through it all, I have started to notice changes within myself. As a gay man, I have been able to expand my capacity to love and understand others. I connect with others in new ways and have deeper insight to the human condition. This would not have happened otherwise. My greatest trial has become one of my greatest blessings.
I will continue through life taking time to observe the world as it is, trying to find ways in which it could be better, and asking myself new and challenging questions. Luckily, one thing will no longer be rattling around inside for I now realize that while being gay isn’t inherently easy, it’s the only way I know how, or would ever want, to be.”