Tyler, in his own words: “Being gay has meant very different things to me in different stages of life. When I was young it meant deep shame and pain–I thought my attraction to guys was a curse. It meant feeling different. Being gay meant severing my sexuality and desire in ways that later took years of undoing. It meant many years of hiding a very basic human part of me.
Now, after numerous years and a lot of good (and hard) therapy, I can wholeheartedly say that it is a gift (that said, I don’t always feel it is easy). Being gay–being different–is an opportunity to expand humankind’s imagination of desire and of what love can be and do. This truly is Good news. For me, being gay has been an invitation to take a deep and difficult look into my own life and story, and I feel grateful for that.
My coming out was a slow process. Although I didn’t have language or even a context for what being gay was when I was young, I was aware of my difference quite early on. When I was 19 years old I called my immediate family together and told them that I was attracted to men. The home and environment that I grew up in was a very conservative Christian one and so at that time in my life I was very much not okay with the idea of being gay. I told them that I was never going to date a guy and that I wasn’t relationally attracted to men, which at the time I entirely believed myself.
After college I began to realize that I really needed to address my sexuality and I began to wonder if sexuality was indeed a gift from God–even for me–as I had been told it was for everyone else growing up.
I began dating men when I was 25, and it wasn’t until 28 that I officially came out to myself and to my parents.
I think the biggest challenge and greatest success are one in the same–the process (and ever-ongoing process of) accepting the many and interconnected parts of myself. The work of undoing; taking down the walls of the closet that I built around myself to protect me from a world that could not bless my difference.
I’ve often wondered about what advice I’d give to my younger self, and whether I’d be receptive to it or not….but I think I would say, “Be kind to yourself, Tydo.”