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  • It's been a long road to where I am now.

    There was a time when the very idea of being romantically attracted to men disgusted me. It's actually kind of frightening how recent that time was, and there is still some vestigial part of my conscious mind that doubts whether I am gay. It's the part I have trained to accept no conclusion without evidence, and while the friends I have used as sounding boards for my journey to the outer walls of my labyrinthine closet would say that there is ample evidence, this doubting vestige requires more than the life experiences of an eight year old and a fifteen year old, neither of whom very much resemble the twenty three year old who has taken their place.

    It's a silly argument, really, one that I concluded months ago but that I still fight every day. A public declaration, the sort I've considered almost every day for the past two months, might help sure up my confidence -but again, that vestige yells that it might lock me into a state of mind that, like many preceding, is entirely false.

    I want to tell you the story of how I learned I was gay.

    My high school years were spent pining after women. I had several girlfriends and a few sexual encounters thereabouts, and these relationships always came to ruin due to a few very unfortunate obsessive and naive tendencies on my part. There was a point, somewhere in my Sophomore or Junior year, where I acknowledged that I was probably bisexual, because I preferred gay porn, tried to peek in the men's shower room every time I walked past, and because sexing it up with a lady didn't really do much for me. At the time I put it as, "I enjoy men sexually, but I prefer women emotionally." IE, I would never ever consider a relationship with a man. It was an impossible concept, so much so that I threw out the bisexual ruling altogether and just said I was straight.

    I had a dozen momentary fits of love and lust, internet meetings where my imagination filled in the blanks and I made the perfect other of a complete stranger. These always ended in frantic disappointment. Summer of 2010 brought a long-anticipated fling with the girl I'd dated briefly in my Junior year (2007). She was everything I should have wanted from a woman. I thought she was beautiful and smart, and the fact that we had an unrivaled emotional rapport only bolstered our amorous aspirations. But goddamnit, I just could not get myself to be physically attracted to her. It's not like we didn't try. It's just, my body's desires were in direct opposition to what my mind said I should want. We broke up after a month and a half, and I moved from Texas to Oklahoma. At that point I'd pretty much figured out that something didn't add up. I abandoned the internet obsessions and purged all hopes of actively pursuing romance, instead putting all my efforts into figuring out just who, exactly, I was attracted to.

    There was a lot of back-and-forth, especially in my brief stint with a psychologist (more for my depression than sexuality, but we talked about that too). The whole time I basically knew that I was gay, but it was Christmas 2010 when I realized what that meant. All the romantic experiences I had as an adult were null and void, I had no idea what kind of person I was attracted to, what kind of appearance I was attracted to- it was like going back to high school again, with all the terrifying doubts and clumsy experimentation thereabouts entailed. Worse still, I could not comprehend a world in which a man could kiss another man with love and passion and genuine emotion. It was a very depressing Christmas for me.

    My biggest problem, I now realize, was that at no point in my life had I ever been presented with the image of a healthy, nonstereotypical homosexual relationship. As a kid, I was attracted to other boys, but as I got older I sensed more and more that this was not okay, and eventually came to the conclusion that it was a wrong and disgusting lifestyle. I built up wall after wall in an attempt to play the part of the heterosexual, because I wanted to please everyone, because I wanted to be normal. But as I sought out works of fiction and nonfiction that depicted homosexual relationships as organic and natural the way any other relationships were, I started to normalize to myself. It's funny that I have tried so hard to live my life by a doctrine of asking questions and never accepting norms, and yet in this one area that much of our culture claims is of the utmost importance I never once let myself be myself, as corny as that sounds. As stories piled up, homosexuality became a human condition rather than a dehumanizing stereotype. When I paid attention to the way I reacted to people, I was able to single out the things I'd trained myself to do and bring forward the instinctual responses. I let myself be attracted to men in a public setting.

    You see, I never wanted to be gay because I thought it was wearing pink, speaking with a lisp, attending pride rallys, being promiscuous, being sassy, all those things that TV and movies and popular culture say that gay is. But it is not a lifestyle, not a fashion, not a fad, not an attitude, not anything -it is a tick in a census column. Nothing wrong, nothing right, nothing moral in any sense of the word, because it is no different from any other attraction or sexual orientation. The negative connotations are entirely cultural, and that is the hardest part to overcome because it is just so fucking ubiquitous. But it's all in your head. All those patterns are just abstract bullshit nonsense you only have in your head because other people barfed it out their mouths and into your skull. The only meaning it has is the meaning you give it, and when other people judge you, when you judge yourself, when you let all those imagined fragments of cultural history and sexual preference and religious bias, when you let all that horseshit trick you into thinking that there is anything moral or immoral about being gay, they and you are wrong.

    Who are you has absolutely nothing to do with right, wrong, moral, immoral, good, or bad. It's what you do.

    Aaaand... what I'm doing now is waffling, weighing my options to see which is more advantageous. God, it's so hard to practice what you preach.
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