December 01, 2009

I Won't Back Down...

As you may have noticed, I took a little hiatus from writing recently. I’d like to say that during my break I was doing something meaningful or productive like going green, campaigning for change, or rescuing orphaned cats in Zimbabwe, but alas, I was not.

I was stewing in a corner, taking a breath, counting to ten, and just trying to survive the twists and turns this road we call life throws at us. I watched friends of mine buy their first home, another get married, and another have their first child, all the while feeling inadequate because they were doing what you’re “supposed” to be doing in your early thirties.

What was I doing? Engaging in several brief affairs, busting my ass to cover the rent of my tiny, but adequate apartment, and continuing my downward spiral of addiction to hair products. Clearly, I was not on the same page as the rest of the grown ups in my life. Oh, and one of my best friends died suddenly and unexpectedly, which, for lack of a better phrase, really fucking sucked. He, like myself, marched to the beat of his own drummer and wasn’t necessarily living the way most people his age were “supposed” to be living either. He was one of the very few people who got me and my quirks. And now he was gone. Crap.

So there I was feeling completely out of place with the people still around me, and abandoned by the one who wasn’t. So no, I didn’t feel much like writing. Or laughing. Or dealing with the outside world in general, much less myself. I even lost the will to touch up my roots. Now that's saying something.

But for every frost, there is a thaw they say. Okay, I’m not sure they say that, but you know what I mean. In time, things started to happen around me and in the world that awakened that part of me that refuses to roll over and take it like a good boy. I would hear about hate crime and police brutality stories in the greater LGBTQ community that would somehow fly under the radar with hardly a mention in mainstream media. That would work me up into a state. And news of yet another state passing yet another measure further regulating us gay folk to non-existent citizens would anger me so much I could piss hydrochloric acid. And when the biggest national news story involving gays happened to be our “feud” with Beauty Queen-turned-Viper of the Decade Carrie Prejean and her work on behalf of Christianity to promote marriage as a sacred institution between men and women, well, damn it all to hell, someone needed to stand up and scream, “THIS IS BULLSHIT!” After a long spell on the island of Poor Pathetic Me, I am happy to return to my post.

The re-ignition of that spark that drives me to write about things ranging from my everyday mundane life to bigger things like political and social issues that face the gay community has reminded me of why its so important that none of us cave in to the stresses of everyday life (real or perceived) and back down from letting our “voices” be heard.

One of the greatest gifts in life, I’ve come to rediscover, is an enthusiasm for sharing stories with people. I consider this a gift because so much of our society is trained to shut up, be still and follow the status quo, whatever the hell that may be in your particular neck of the woods. If you’re a woman, you’re supposed to stand by your man, take care of your babies, and keep house. If you’re of a different race or ethnicity, you’re supposed to aspire to be like the “powerful” white man, but expected to keep your place behind him. And if you’re gay, lesbian, or trans, well, large portions of our planet would much rather not even acknowledge our presence, period.

This is where I stand up and scream, “THIS IS BULLSHIT!”

The most powerful way the disregarded can combat feeling bullied, stifled, and ignored is to stand up and speak out as often as they can, wherever they can. People like Del Shores who is the creator of the film and series Sordid Lives and writer of numerous plays touching on gay issues, radio personality Ben Harvey and comic Dave Rubin who host a weekly podcast about all things gay called The Six Pack, and local columnist/activist KaeLyn Rich who not only writes about issues facing the LGBTQ community and women’s rights, but speaks out about them every chance she gets, are people who’s work inspires me to do my part in being visible and heard. There is so much more to share and learn from each other on this planet.

Now that I’ve had this moment of reckoning, I promise to keep on sharing my stories if you promise to keep reading them! Hell, maybe some inspiration will rub off on you and you’ll want to share your experiences and stories too.

Just don’t ask to borrow my hair products. There are limits, people.

Originally written for The Empty Closet, a publication of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley in Rochester, New York.