The funny thing is, I almost forgot that I was coming out as queer, because at the same time, I was coming out as a survivor of child abuse. I was 19, and I’d finally confronted my abuser – my stepmother. I came out as a survivor and a gay man, and immediately set about avoiding the topic. I was afraid to look at myself, and so I was constantly seeking external validation – a surrogate support system that would make up for what I’d lost. I became involved with gay groups, binged on social situations and tried to create an identity for myself that I could be proud of. I’d felt alone for so long, that to find people who could understand a part of who I was as a gay man, was a huge relief.
That most people were horrified by my childhood was a relief, but I couldn’t stand the looks of pity that always followed. And so I stopped talking about it. I stopped talking about how alone I felt, how hurt I was, how angry I was that I had to defend myself, how angry I was that no one had ever tried to save me. I didn’t want to be pitied, and yet, pity was the one thing I needed in order to heal.
My education and exposure to the queer community has empowered me in some ways. In educational contexts, I can break down my identity into compartments: the words “privilege” and “able-bodied” and “cis-gendered” and “exoticization” are all a part of how I can be defined, but at the same time, they do nothing to describe who I am. Socially however, I feel rejected at every turn. I experience encounters that left me feeling – that still make me feel – that I’m not enough.
In the last year though, things have shifted. Someone said to me that I needed to figure things out and move on for the best. I realized that my biggest fear was to be alone, and that I wasn’t enough ~ and so I embraced it. I finally let myself feel for myself – it is only when we can feel compassion for ourselves that we can believe in compassion in others. I do not know if I’ll ever meet anyone who can make me feel all the things I need in order to feel happy and safe. But as long as I can do that for myself – that’s a start. My journey continues. Woot woot.