I know what it is like to be harassed, and even beaten up, because someone (or more likely a group of someones) calls you gay. I know the stigma of others treating you different because you act a little “gay” around them. I know what it is like to be the butt of both homophobic jokes and homo-sexually suggestive jokes.
To say I have been hesitant to write on the subject of homosexuality is a huge understatement because of all the layers attached. I used to think it was a pretty simple issue. Now I think the layers make it complex… or at least how to explain what I think about homosexuality is complex. For some reason, I feel a strong burden to share my gay experiences.
In Junior High School, I was often picked on because I was a little more effeminate than most of the other guys. Everything from wearing childish t-shirts depicting Disney characters to how I placed my hands on my hips, I’m sure I seemed gay.
Just a small side-note, with all the stereotypes of gay guys have superior fashion since, at the very least I would be the exception. These pictures should only further show than fashion is not my strongpoint.
I probably should be more embarrassed of these pictures, but they remind me of how quickly I am to judge others based on looks and actions. Around the time Michael Jackson married Lisa Presley was about the same time I was in Jr. High. Despite the fact that I really did like 2 girls in particular during those 2 years, I was accused, along with Jackson, that I was only pretending to like girls. To make matters worse, I remember being singled out many times for people to test my “straight-ness” with various trivia questions dealing with sexuality. I’m sure my answers did not help because, like many young teenage boys, sex talk is uncomfortable. It also probably did not help that I spent more time talking to girls than boys on the buses to basketball games. I honestly thought that I was becoming more attractive to the girls, but in retrospect, I think they thought I was a safe, harmless boy.
In high school, I started to escape the gay stigma by playing football. Because I have always felt comfortable making friends with people who are generally considered odd at best, I never lost the stigma completely. It is way too telling and sad when we label people who are different than us in vile ways.
I really wish when I was teenager there would have been campaigns to encourage gay teenagers to not give up hope, that life gets better. I also wonder if I would turned out gay if those campaigns were active then. Let’s face it, all teenagers need to be encouraged to not give up hope and that life gets better. Few, if any, teenagers feel comfortable as teenagers. When I worked as a youth pastor, this was the most common topic to talk about; that what their peers thought of them as a teenager is not necessarily what their peers as adults would think. Everything was so image focused during those years. That’s why there were cool kid tables and the tables I sat. It is a fact that I considered suicide for my freshman and sophomore years of high school, but it wasn’t because of my sexual identity so much as trying to conform to an image that I just didn’t fit.
I can’t speak to everything gay, but I can say that being a victim of bullying and persecution because I was considered gay was something that no one should ever be forced to go through. Because of these experiences, I definitely feel empathy for the gay community. Maybe sometime I’ll share my thoughts of working through more of the gay layers, but for now, I hope these thoughts are helpful to you becoming a complete person.